Comment 20 Feb 17

UK Media Focus on Montenegro Suggests Policy Shift

The strong support offered to Milo Djukanovic’s coup allegations in an influential UK newspaper suggests an East-West tug-of-war over Montenegro is hotting up.

Marcus Tanner
Milo Djukanovic, former Montenegrin Prime Minister. Photo: OSCE Parliamentary Assembly/Flickr

Balkan politics rarely make it to the front pages of major UK newspapers, so Montenegro’s leaders must have been delighted to see the Sunday Telegraph repeating their version of the events of October 16 on its front page under the flaming headline: “Russian conspiracy to assassinate European leader”.

In breathless tones - on not only the front page but over two whole inside pages and in the leading article in the comment section, citing “senior Whitehall sources” - the newspaper opined that the Russian leadership, not just “Russian nationalists”, plotted to kill former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic on election day in a last-ditch bid to stop Montenegro from joining NATO.

“An election day coup plot to attack Montenegro’s parliament and kill the pro-Western leader was directed by Russian intelligence with the support and blessing of Moscow,” the paper concluded.

Were this any old newspaper, one might dismiss this blaze of coverage of events some months ago in one of Europe’s smallest countries as an eccentric editorial decision made on a “slow” news day. But the Telegraph papers, the daily and the Sunday editions, are not any old papers.

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