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2 Russian spies sentenced in Montenegro in coup attempt

Friday, May 10, 2019

Podgorica (Montenegro): A Montenegro court yesterday sentenced 13 people, including two Russian secret service operatives, to up to 15 years in prison after they were convicted of plotting to overthrow the Balkan country's government and prevent it from joining NATO.

Chief judge Suzana Mugosa said the two Russians, identified as Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov, were convicted of "attempted terrorism" and "creating a criminal organisation." The two were tried in absentia.

Shishmakov received a 15-year prison term while Popov got 12 years. Two leading ethnic Serb opposition politicians, Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic, were sentenced to five years each.

The verdict said the group planned to take over parliament on election day on October 16, 2016, assassinate then-Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and install a pro-Russia, anti-NATO leadership.

Montenegro joined NATO in June 2017 as the Western military alliance's 29th member despite strong opposition from Moscow, which considers the small Adriatic country a historic Slavic ally and is opposed to NATO's enlargement.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied involvement in the coup attempt. Montenegro's police thwarted the action after receiving tips from Western spy organizations, authorities said.

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