|[Published: Thursday May 09 2019]
Montenegro jails 'Russian coup' leaders
PODGORICA 9 May (ANA) - 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.
The court also found 12 others guilty, including two Russians - alleged 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. They are allegedly members of Russia's GRU military intelligence service.
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.
Russia has condemned Montenegro's June 2017 accession to Nato.
Nato membership remains highly controversial in the small Balkan country, which became independent in 2006.
Serbia and Montenegro - both bombed by Nato planes in the 1999 Kosovo war - were originally one country after the break-up of Yugoslavia. At that time there was Russian support for the Yugoslav government.
Special prosecutor Milivoje Katnic said the plot involved using a sniper to kill pro-Western Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. It was to happen on Montenegro's election day on 16 October 2016.(ANA)
FA/ANA/9 May 2019-------