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Report: U.K. Officials See Russia Behind October Montenegro Plot

Democratic Front Milan Knezevic and Andrija Mandic in front of the Assembly of Montenegro

A U.K. newspaper reports that senior British officials believe Russia was behind a plot last October to assassinate Montenegro's pro-Western prime minister and overthrow the government.

The Sunday Telegraph, in an article to be published February 19, cited senior British government sources as saying Russian intelligence officers, “with the support and blessing of Moscow,” attempted to sabotage Podgorica’s plan to join NATO.

Montenegro’s NATO membership is opposed by Russia and has been the source of tension following the alleged foiled election-day coup.

Montenegro in October arrested about 20 people -- including two Russian citizens -- suspected of aiding the plot.

Montenegro's parliament on February 15 voted to strip two opposition leaders of the pro-Russian Democratic Front of immunity over their suspected involvement.

A prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for two lawmakers, Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic, but Montenegro's state prosecutor overruled the warrant and said there was no need to hold the pair in jail as suspects.

U.K. government sources told The Sunday Telegraph “the planned coup was one of the most blatant recent examples of an increasingly aggressive campaign of interference in Western affairs.”

It said Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson discussed the issue at their recent meeting.

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