British officials believe Russian authorities were behind a plot in October to kill Montenegro’s pro-Western prime minister, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported, citing senior British government sources.
A special prosecutor in the previous Yugoslav republic said in November that a gathering of “Russian patriots” had wanted to kill Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic to get a resistance party into power.
Moscow denied contribution in any plot, and Montenegrin resistance parties have said the plot was created and blame Djukanovic for utilizing the security services to help augment his quarter century of strength.
The British daily paper gave an account of Sunday that senior British officials believed there had been a plot to kill Djukanovic, and that Russia had built it in a way that it could be faulted for maverick Russian patriots if revealed.
“You are talking about a plot to disrupt or take over a government in some way. You can’t imagine that there wasn’t some kind of approval process,” the newspaper quoted one anonymous source as saying.
The newspaper said Britain and the United States’ intelligence agencies had gathered evidence of high-level Russian involvement in the plot for Montenegro’s government.
Asked about the newspaper report, Britain’s foreign ministry said Montenegro had recognized Russian nationals as behind the plot.
“Montenegro must itself deliver a competent, transparent judicial process and trial of the coup suspects,” a foreign ministry spokeswoman said.
“Success would be a major step in convincing the international community of real progress in Montenegrin rule of law reform and compatibility with NATO and EU standards,” she included.
The leader of Britain’s residential spy agency said in November that Russia was pushing its outside policy in progressively forceful ways including cyber-attacks and espionage, representing a developing risk to Britain and whatever is left of Europe.
Moscow has denied this, and challenged Britain to produce hard evidence.