Failed backflip: can RF block Montenegro’s path to NATO

The Prosecutor’s office of Montenegro made direct accusations against Russia of involvement in the attempted coup in that country in October last year. The consequence considers that the Russian secret services had a hand in the failed coup. In Montenegro believe that Russia thus hoped to prevent the accession of the Balkan countries in NATO. However, the doctors talked of “Apostrophe” refers to this calculation, if it really existed, is extremely naive. Moreover, Montenegro to create barriers to the Alliance is simply too late.

Cyber attacks on the websites of the Montenegrin state institutions have become another alleged attempt by Russia to influence the internal political situation in Montenegro. The government said about the professional nature of the operation and promised to take action. In the hacker attacks, which were committed on 16 October last year with the elections to the Parliament, some media accused the Russian experts.

Prosecutors have pointed at Russia

Appeared another evidence that the unsuccessful October revolution in Montenegro with the approval of the Russian leadership had a hand in the Russian secret service. The British newspaper the Sunday Times, citing anonymous senior official said that the relevant evidence has British and American intelligence services. The same was reported and The Telegraph. In an interview with the Minister of defence of Montenegro, Predrag Boskovic, said that the involvement of the Russian intelligence and the financing of the operation of Moscow “there is no doubt”.

Montenegrin spectacular in cases of organized crime Milivoje Katich earlier in the week stated that in the preparation of the coup involved some of the state bodies of the Russian Federation, in particular the security services. According to prosecutors, on October 16, during the parliamentary elections in Montenegro had to happen the assassination of the then Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and the seizure of Parliament by the opposition. While at the head of the criminal group were Russian Eduard Shishmakov behind the name Shirokov — in the words of Caticha, “a member of the Russian security services” and once the Deputy military attache in Poland, expelled from there for espionage. Now he and his probable companion Vladimir Popov, Interpol announced an international search.

If before the official Podgorica avoided accusations against Moscow and merely pointed to the participation of Russian nationalists (as well as citizens of Serbia), a statement about the role of intelligence agencies is actually a direct accusation. The Montenegrin authorities demanded from Moscow an explanation. And Moscow responded in his style: press Secretary of the President Dmitry Peskov called the accusation absurd and irresponsible, foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is unfounded.

The indictment the Prosecutor’s office of Montenegro expects to prepare by mid-April.

Coup, the opposition and Russia’s role

The investigation finds that a foreign coup was supposed to help to get into Parliament representatives of the openly Pro-Russian coalition of parties of the “Democratic front” (DF), which in the last elections took second place, but were not included in the coalition. Their leaders Andrew Mandic and Milan Knežević 15 Feb was stripped of parliamentary immunity, after which the number of defendants has grown to 25 people. The Prosecutor stated that it was not going to throw Mandic and Knežević behind bars, but now they are available for interrogation in the case of the failed coup. At the beginning of the month both once again visited Moscow and met with Deputy Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia, although not occupy any official posts.

The opposition continues to boycott Parliament and refused to participate in local elections in March. After the vote, parliamentarians for the removal of immunity “Democratic front” accused Djukanovic, now only the President of the ruling “Democratic party of socialists”, in provoking the civil war. But there were a few peaceful protests of opposition supporters. Pro-Russian opposition forces believe that the coup attempt, as well as deprivation leaders of DF immunity, orchestrated by the order of Djukanovic. The obvious goal is consolidation of power.

However, the correspondent of “Radio Liberty” in the Balkans Yulia Petrovskaya does not believe in such a scenario: the Montenegrin Prime Minister, the regime which for nearly 30 years in power, still did not need to invent such complicated moves to completely discredit the Russian policy vector of the country. “This is a very complex and unnecessary design,” said Peter “Apostrophe”. Not least because the society saved the sympathy of the Russian Federation.

I’m not sure she and the involvement of Russia, the indictment, and no one heard, had not seen the letter, which based the allegations of the Prosecutor of Katica. “We must understand that we are talking about a very complex matter, which has serious political component, vary widely in the Montenegrin society. We do not have sufficient information and arguments”, — explained the journalist. She added that it is unlikely it will ever be accurate information about the organizers of the failed coup: “Even if the Montenegrin investigation will establish a very clear hierarchy of Russian citizens and their Association with Russian state structures, Russia just never do not officially recognize, as it occurs in the East of Ukraine.”

Specialist on the Balkans, an analyst with the Ukrainian center for independent political research Vitaliy Martynyuk acknowledged that while it is impossible to speak with confidence about the involvement of Russian state agencies. On the other hand, he found no other explanation for the actions of the two Russian citizens who came to the Balkans to participate in the coup, which required a lot of time and money. “Of course, just so they wouldn’t be here to do it” — he said in comments to our edition.

To prevent the accession to NATO

The prosecutors believe that the only purpose of the coup was to prevent the accession of this Balkan country to join NATO. Podgorica is in need of ratification of the Protocol on accession by the parliaments of four NATO countries, including the United States. Part of the opposition that opposes the membership of Montenegro in NATO, insists on holding a referendum, which could be the only way to stop the country’s integration into the Alliance. The opposition wants to hold a vote on March 24, the anniversary of the bombing of the Serbian and Montenegrin lands (then Yugoslav) forces of NATO. But this perspective is illusory, since the coalition was formed of supporters of membership, and members are unlikely to permit such a referendum. And not all opposition political forces in Montenegro against the membership. The interlocutors of “Apostrophes” expressed doubt that the referendum will be held. In any case, the latest survey showed support for NATO membership among Montenegrins on the level at 45.9% as opposed to 38.4%.

Peter points to the fragility of the ruling coalition, which has a negligible advantage in the Parliament. And the fact that the opposition does not recognize the Parliament, obviously undermines the legitimacy of its decisions, including membership in NATO. Nevertheless, she believes the accession of Montenegro to NATO is irreversible: the process can complicate or prolong, but to stop him will not succeed. “Russia at this moment there are no opportunities to stop the accession of Montenegro to NATO — this process came to an end. It’s too late to do”, — said the journalist. The Kremlin is seriously turned their attention to this country and its desire to become part of the Alliance only after the deterioration of Moscow’s relations with the Western world in 2014.

“Russia did not hide at all possible levels of interest that came to power other political forces,” continued Peter. And if the Russian plan to overthrow Djukanovic really existed, according to her, he was the “pinnacle of naivety and lack of professionalism” because in the region there are Western intelligence agencies.

Agrees with her and Martynyuk: if the scenario of a coup to work, it could destabilize Montenegro and to suspend the process of integration into NATO, but to completely cancel it could only be a complete change of power in the country — was “extremely unlikely scenario”.

Despite this, in the future we should not exclude attempts of the Kremlin to blow up the political situation in Montenegro. “Russia is still trying to go to the end, even when it is obvious that it will be difficult to achieve the objectives, — balkanist. — Why the Russians and not left in the side of trying to destabilize Montenegro — just to, say, punish this country. So that in the future there may be protests or something else. You can expect anything”.