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Montenegro Court Postpones Hearing On Alleged Coup Plotters

Lawmaker Andrija Mandic in front of the prosecutor's office in Podgorica on March 3
Lawmaker Andrija Mandic in front of the prosecutor's office in Podgorica on March 3

A Montenegrin court on May 5 postponed a hearing to confirm the indictments of 14 people, including two Russians and two pro-Russia opposition leaders, who are charged with plotting to overthrow the government last year.

The High Court in Podgorica said the session was delayed until May 24 to give defense lawyers more time to sift through thousands of pages of documents and other materials and evidence in the case.

Lawmakers Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic of the Democratic Front, two Russians, nine Serbian citizens, and one other Montenegrin have been charged with "creating a criminal organization."

The Russians were also charged with "terrorism."

Montenegrin officials allege that Serbian and Russian nationalists plotted to take over parliament during the October 2016 parliamentary elections, assassinate then-Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, and install a pro-Russia leadership to halt Montenegro’s bid to join NATO.

Prosecutors said the Russian citizens, identified as Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov, were based in Serbia and were allowed by authorities there to return to Russia. They remain at large.

Accused lawmaker Mandic on April 13 called the charges "a staged political trial against the opposition."

Montenegro's special prosecutor has said "Russian state bodies" were involved in the alleged coup, something Russia denies.

Montenegro's parliament ratified the country's NATO membership on April 28, marking a historic turn toward the West amid protests from traditional ally Russia and the country's pro-Russian political opposition.

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