Veteran pro-European Union politician Milo Đjukanović was set to win Montenegro’s presidential election on Sunday with 53.5% of votes, according to a projection by the Centre for Monitoring and Research (CeMI) pollster. Mladen Bojanić, a businessman backed by an alliance of parties – including some wanting closer ties with Russia – was set to come second with 34%, CeMI said, based on a partial count of the votes in a sample of polling stations. The state election commission said turnout at 7.30pm local time (17.30 GMT), half an hour before the polling stations closed, stood at 61.6%. “This [result] is a serious indication of how final results might look, though results might deviate slightly,” said Miloš Bešić, a lecturer of political sciences at Belgrade University who monitors Montenegro’s vote.
Articles about voting issues in Montenegro.
Montenegrins were casting their ballots in a presidential election widely tipped to be won by former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. It is the first election since the country joined the Western military alliance, NATO. Sunday’s vote is being seen as test for Djukanovic, who favors European integration over closer ties to its traditional ally, Moscow. The former prime minister and his Democratic Party of Socialists have ruled the country for nearly 30 years. Current President Filip Vujanovic is not running due to term limits. Opinion polls predict a first-round victory for Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists’. However, if the former leader fails to win the seven candidate race, a run-off vote will be held on April 29.
Over the last two years, authorities in Montenegro have recorded a sharp rise in cyberattacks, mostly targeting state institutions and media outlets in that aspiring EU state on the Adriatic. With a presidential election looming on April 15, the recent NATO entrant and its 650,000 residents are girding for another possible wave of hacks. Montenegro and other countries in the Balkans fear meddling from Moscow to further what they believe is an expansion of Russian foreign policy. Officials in Podgorica feel their country is especially vulnerable, as the winner of the presidential vote is likely to steer Montenegro through early negotiations on EU accession, a move the Kremlin staunchly opposes.
Montenegro: Planned coup in Montenegro shows Russian efforts to hinder elections, Senate panel hears | McClatchy
By the time Montenegro’s police got wind of the plans, the 2016 election-day coup plot was about to launch. Disguised as police, the plotters would storm the Parliament in Podgorica, firing at citizens awaiting election results and generally creating chaos. They would declare their favored candidates the real winners of the elections, and would detain and perhaps assassinate the prime minister. If breaking up a plotted coup at the last minute wasn’t shocking enough, when Montenegrin officials investigated the plan it quickly became clear that the source of this planned chaos wasn’t even local. The plan began with Russia. At the same time in the United States, voters were hearing the first warnings about what would come to be known Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Later, the notion of possible collusion by members of the campaign of President Donald Trump would be added.
Montenegro: U.S. says ‘credible reports’ Russia tried to interfere with Montenegro elections | Reuters
The United States said on Wednesday there are credible reports that Russia attempted to interfere in elections last October in Montenegro, which formally became a member of NATO this week. The accusation came as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met Russian officials in Moscow and as President Donald Trump prepared to meet NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House. “We are very concerned about Russian interference in the October elections in Montenegro, including credible reports of Russian support for an attempted election day attack on the government,” a senior White House official told reporters at a briefing ahead of Stoltenberg’s visit.
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.
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.