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New evidence in Montenegro’s coup affair?

Flags of Montenegro and NATO; Photo: NATO

Two Russian agents suspected on plotting a failed coup in Montenegro were photographed in Serbia prior to the incident, British media reported. Media have dubbed them “key proof that Russian intelligence was behind attempt to assassinate a European Prime Minister” during the parliamentary elections last October.

The pictures have been first published by Sky News and were obtained from “an unnamed European security service”. Photos allegedly show “two officers of Russia’s GRU military spy service visiting the Balkans and overseeing the man they hired to orchestrate the bloody overthrow of Montenegro’s government”, daily newspaper Telegraph reported.

Reports say that Russian citizens Eduard Sismakov and Vladimir Popov have “begun plotting several months earlier, traveling to neighbouring Serbia to search for a suitable organizer on the ground”. Surveillance pictures allegedly show Sismakov and Popov together in a park and also Sismakov talking to Aleksandar Sinđelić. Serbian citizen Sinđelić, the reports continue, is an anti-Western activist “who had in the past boasted to associates of his ties with the Russian Defence ministry”, who was appointed to be the leader of the coup.

Eduard Sismakov is an alleged member of the Russian military intelligence service (GRU) and former deputy Russian military attaché in Poland, who was deported to Russia for espionage in 2014.

Indictment against the plotters alleges that terrorist network was given “sophisticated encrypted phones set up from Moscow”, while at least one money transfer to the conspirators was made from the same street as GRU headquarters in the Russian capital.

The two Russians are believed to be back in Russia and are being tried in their absence, along with 13 others for their part in a plot to attack Montenegro’s parliament. Sinđelić is now a cooperation witness in the coup case, which is also being launched against Democratic Front (DF) leaders, Andrija Mandić and Milan Knežević, CDM reports.

DF has recently stated that Sinđelić was sentenced to 21 years in prison for murder and theft in Croatia, with a warrant for his arrest, and has continuously accused Montenegrin government of plotting the “fake coup” with an aim to discredit them. Russian Federation has publicly denied any involvement in this incident, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissing them as “absurd”.

Montenegrin police on the night between 15 and 16 October arrested 20 Serbian and Montenegrin nationals on suspicion of committing criminal offenses of “creating a criminal organization” in connection with terrorism, reported regional news organizations. Six were released the same week, later some of them entered into a plea bargain, and were given suspended sentences. This incident happened during heated deliberation for- and against Montenegro membership in NATO, which was criticized by Kremlin. Montenegro officially joined NATO on 5 June 2017.

Publication of this article has been supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy of the German Marshall Fund of the United States

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