Montenegro overturns convictions of 2 Russians accused of coup attempt
Montenegro sent for review the case of the 2016 coup attempt, the defendants of which were two Russians. According to Newsru.com, the sentences of all the defendants in the trial were overturned.
In 2019, Russians Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov received 15 and 12 years in prison in absentia. Other defendants included Milan Knezevic and Andrija Mandic, leaders of the Democratic Front as well as several Serbian citizens.
The Montenegrin authorities accused them of attempting a coup in the country in 2016. They were accused of preparing a series of attacks aimed at seizing parliament and assassinating Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic “to bring the opposition Democratic Front party to power and prevent Montenegro from joining NATO”. Russian special services were reported to be involved in the process.
After the Democratic Front party won the elections in 2020, the coup case was put under reviewed, and, on February 6, 2021, the Court of Appeal of Montenegro overturned the convictions against the defendants, explaining that they were handed down “with serious violations of the law”. In addition, the court stated that it was not proven that the defendants had committed the crimes that they had been accused of.
On October 16,2016, the day of parliamentary elections in Montenegro, 20 citizens of Serbia were arrested under accusations that they had planned armed attacks on state institutions.
Opposition parties claimed that the entire operation was fabricated and accused then-Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic of using security services to hold on to power.
Prior to the vote, Djukanovic said that Russia financed the opposition in order to derail Montenegro’s forthcoming membership in NATO.
In November, Milo Djukanovic accused the pro-Russian opposition of direct involvement in planning a power shift in the country, as well as his assassination on Election Day.