Montenegro’s former prime minister accused Russia of seeking to destabilize the Balkans following a thwarted attempt to overthrow Podgorica’s pro-Western government. Milo Djukanovic, who stepped down after an alleged plot emerged on election day in October aimed at preventing the small Balkan country from joining NATO, said that pro-Moscow groups “harnessed a lot of destructive material toward Montenegro” in that coup attempt. Montenegro is now “in the line” of Moscow’s attempts to expand its influence in the Balkans, and pro-Russian opposition parties are ready to use “bloodshed and a coup” to install a pro-Kremlin government, Djukanovic said on February 21 in an address to Socialist Democratic Party youth in Niksic.
Articles about voting issues in Montenegro.
The websites of the Montenegrin government and several state institutions, as well as some pro-government media, have been targeted with increasing numbers of cyberattacks in recent days, the government in Podgorica told BIRN. “The scope and diversity of the attacks and the fact that they are being undertaken on a professional level indicates that this was a synchronised action,” the government said in a statement. Official websites and network infrastructure came under serious attack for the first time on the day of the parliamentary elections in Montenegro on October 16, amid speculation that Russian hackers had a role in it. The major new attack, which the government describes as more intense than the one in October, started on February 15 and peaked the following day, but continued over the weekend, the statement said.
Montenegro: Russia plotted to overthrow Montenegro’s government by assassinating Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic last year, according to senior Whitehall sources | Sunday Telegraph
Russia plotted to assassinate the prime minister of a European nation and overthrow its government last year, according to senior Whitehall sources. An election-day coup plot to attack Montenegro’s parliament and kill the pro-Western leader was directed by Russian intelligence officers with the support and blessing of Moscow, to sabotage the country’s plan to join Nato. The plot was foiled only hours before it was due to be carried out, but would have caused heavy bloodshed and plunged the tiny country into turmoil on the eve of becoming Nato’s 29th member. The allegation came as Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, criticised Nato as a “Cold War institution” whose expansion had led to unprecedented tensions in Europe over the past thirty years. The planned Montenegro coup scheduled for October 16 last year was one of the most blatant recent examples of an increasingly aggressive campaign of interference in Western affairs, Whitehall sources told The Telegraph.
Montenegro’s prosecutors said Tuesday they have issued international arrest warrants for two Russian and three Serbian nationals suspected of planning an anti-government attack during October’s parliamentary election. The five are wanted for “setting up a criminal organisation and attempted terrorism,” a statement from the prosecutor’s office said. A group of Serbians was arrested on the eve of Montenegro’s October 16 polling day and accused of plotting to seize parliament.
Russian nationalists were behind an alleged coup attempt in Montenegro that included plans to assassinate the pro-Western prime minister because of his government’s bid to join NATO, the Balkan country’s chief special prosecutor said Sunday. Milivoje Katnic said the investigation leads to the conclusion that “nationalists from Russia” organized a criminal group that planned to break into the Montenegro Parliament on election day, kill Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and bring a pro-Russian coalition to power. Some 20 Serbian and Montenegrin citizens, including a former commander of Serbia’s special police forces, were arrested in Montenegro during the Oct. 16 vote. Fourteen of them remain in custody, including some who have fought for pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine. Russian officials have denied any involvement. But they have openly supported the “patriotic” parties that are against Montenegro’s membership bid in the Western military alliance.
Montenegro’s state election commission has declared the final results of the Oct. 16 parliamentary election despite a walkout by opposition representatives who have alleged irregularities during the vote. The commission late Saturday confirmed the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists won 36 seats in the 81-member parliament, followed by opposition Democratic Front with 18 seats and the Key Coalition with nine. The remaining seats went to smaller groups.
Montenegro’s long-serving prime minister is to step down, the governing Democratic Socialist party has said, and will be replaced by his deputy, Duško Marković. Tuesday’s announcement came hours after Milo Đukanović, who has governed as Montenegro’s prime minister or president for a total of 21 years since 1991, announced his government was investigating a possible Russian role in an alleged 16 October coup plot aimed at derailing the country’s elections. It is unclear whether there is any connection between Đukanović’s claims of a coup and his abrupt departure. Party officials were quoted as saying that he would be replaced by Marković as its candidate for prime minister if it was able to secure a majority coalition in post-election negotiations. Đukanović, whose time in office has been dogged by allegations of authoritarianism and corruption, has retired from leadership on two previous occasions, in 2006 and 2010, before returning to the helm.
Serbia has detained a number of people over a suspected plot to sway the outcome of Montenegro’s Oct. 16 election, the Serbian prime minister said on Monday, citing “undeniable and material” evidence found by his country’s security services.Aleksandar Vucic’s remarks were the first detailed Serbian reaction to the arrests on election day in Montenegro of 20 Serbian citizens, including a retired police general, accused of planning attacks on government institutions and officials. The vote, in which veteran Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic’s party came out ahead but without a parliamentary majority, was billed as an opportunity for voters to endorse his pro-NATO and pro-EU stance instead of pursuing closer relationships with traditional allies like Serbia and Russia. Vucic told a news conference that the evidence found included 125,000 euros ($135,975) in cash and stashed uniforms that were to be used in attacks on Montenegrin state institutions and individuals. Supportive evidence had been given by detained suspects under questioning, he said.
Montenegrin authorities on Wednesday defended a decision to block popular messaging services WhatsApp and Viber during the country’s parliamentary election, saying it was prompted by citizens’ complaints and in line with EU regulations. The state Communications Agency said in a statement that its move on Sunday was designed to prevent the abuse of the services on election day. The agency said a number of users — it did not specify how many — complained of receiving unwanted election propaganda. “The users of mobile communications in Montenegro asked for protection,” the agency said. “The ban of Viber and WhatsApp application turned out to be the only option to prevent the distribution of unwanted communication.”
Montenegrin officials blocked popular messaging services WhatsApp and Viber during the country’s parliamentary election, a ban that drew allegations of interference from opposition politicians and concern from European election watchers Monday. “Blocking such apps is unthinkable in any normal country,” said opposition party leader Ranko Krivokapic, who previously monitored voting for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. “I have never heard of that happening anywhere ever in an election.” Authorities said they blocked Viber and WhatsApp for several hours during Sunday’s inconclusive election because “unlawful marketing” was being spread through the networks. Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic’s long-ruling party won the most votes in the contest, but without enough support to govern alone. Both the opposition and the Democratic Party of Socialists will now have to try form a governing coalition with several small groups represented in the 81-seat parliament.