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News 13 Jan 17

Serbia Arrests Alleged Montenegro Coup Plotters

Serbian police have arrested two Serbian citizens who were allegedly involved in a plot to overthrow the Montenegrin government on elections day in October.

Nela Kuburovic, Serbian justice minister. Photo: Beta

Serbian police arrested Nemanja Ristic, 43, and Predrag Bogicevic, 47, on Friday on suspicion of terrorism and in line with an arrest warrant issued by Montenegro, the police announced.

Nela Kuburovic, Serbian Justice minister, told a press conference just hours before police informed the public of the arrests that Serbia would continue working on Montenegrin extradition requests after it receives the necessary documentation from Podgorica, in line with their bilateral agreement on extradition.

“When the men are in custody, we need to get an official extradition request from Montenegro, which still did not happen in this case. We only received a mass warrant that was submitted to the ministry for its opinion,” Kuburovic stated.

On December 27, the Montenegrin prosecution said an arrest warrant had been issued for five persons, including Ristic and Bogicevic, in connection with "terrorist" activities - including plans to kill the former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic on election day, October 16.

The warrants are for the arrest of "two citizens of Russia and three citizens of Serbia in connection with the setting-up of a criminal organization and terrorism," the prosecution said.

Media reports earlier identified the Russians as Eduard Shirokov and Vladimir Popov, while the name of the third Serbian national was not revealed.

The Serbian and Russian governments have denied all involvement in the alleged anti-NATO plot, as the pro-government media in Montenegro call it.

As BIRN previously reported, Montenegrin Special Prosecutor Milivoje Katnic in November admitted that the prosecution has no proof that the Russian state was involved in the affair.

On November 18, Katnic said that a group of Serbs, Montenegrins and Russians tried to organize a terrorist act on October 16. He claimed the security services had stalled the coup after the arrest of 20 Serbian citizens, including a former Serbian police general, Bratislav Dikic.

The group planned to break into the parliament, kill Prime Minister Djukanovic and bring a pro-Russian coalition to power, the prosecution said.

It said nationalists from Russia and Serbia took the view that Montenegro's pro-Western regime could not be overthrown peacefully in an election, but only by violence.

"Planning to violently to overthrow the legally elected government, they formed a criminal organization to commit a terrorist act," Katnic said.

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