Montenegro Jails 'Russian Coup Plot' Leaders

A court in Montenegro has handed five-year jail terms to two pro-Russian opposition politicians for trying to topple the government in October 2016.

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The court also found 12 others guilty, including two Russians – alleged GRU secret agents – tried in absentia.

Prosecutors said the plotters had Kremlin support to assassinate then-Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and block Nato accession.

Russia has called the coup inquiry absurd.

Montenegro’s opposition has consistently rejected the charges, alleging what it called a “false-flag” operation – a fake act aimed at incriminating an opponent – to keep Mr Djukanovic in power. He is now the president.

The opposition leaders jailed on Thursday are Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic – MPs in the Democratic Front Alliance.

The other defendants were another Montenegrin, nine Serbs and the two Russians tried in absentia.

The Russians, Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov, were handed the heaviest jail terms – 12 and 15 years.

Interpol has put out an international wanted notice for Popov. The investigative website Bellingcat says “Popov” is a pseudonym for a GRU officer called Vladimir Moiseev.

Bellingcat has previously researched Russian state involvement in the Ukraine conflict and Skripal spy case in the UK.