Date: 11 December 2018
More Information about Montenegro Coup Trial Is Revealed
One of the suspects on trial over a failed 2016 coup attempt fled to the Serbian Embassy. Branka Milic is among the twelve people whose trial is currently taking place in Podgorica while two alleged suspects, officially identified as Russian GRU military intelligence officers, are to be judged in absentia for organizing the failed coup plot. Media recently reported on the real personal details of the second of them.
Podgorica’s High Court opened a trial of people accused of the alleged coup d’état in October 2016. Montenegrin authorities claimed that Serbian and Russian nationalists intended to attack the country’s parliament and kill Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, thus dissuading Podgorica from joining NATO. The coup was to be organized by two Russian GRU officers, both of whom had already been identified. Nonetheless, due to their escape, they are now being judged in absentia. 12 others were supposed to stand trial yet some of them were agreed to be released on their own recognizance. Among them is Branka Milic who holds dual Montenegrin-Serbian citizenship. On November 23, she provided her testimony in the court. At some point, she walked out of the courtroom, complaining that her rights had been violated. Podgorica’s High Court later ordered Milic to be detained yet she had managed to flee to the Serbian Embassy. Montenegro’s Foreign Affairs has summoned the Serbian ambassador, seeking more explanations. The state authorities in Podgorica said they requested Belgrad’s official position on the matter.
The Milic case may contribute to the further deterioration of mutual Montenegrin-Serbian relations. Russia’s military intelligence service GRU managed to prepare and carry out an operation targeted against pro-Western authorities in Podgorica both from Serbia’s territory and with the participation of Serbian nationalists. Yet the operation failed as one of the plotters had informed Montenegrin services about their intentions. Some of the putschists were ultimately detained while others, including GRU officers, playing key roles in the conspiracy, managed to flee to Serbia. They were both accused in absentia while the real name of one of them was quickly identified. The name of the first Russian officer indicted in the Montenegro coup trial was Eduard Shishmakov (alias Shirokov). Back in 2014, he was expelled from his post as Russian Deputy Military Attaché in Poland after being accused of espionage. After two years, it was finally possible to determine the identity of the second GRU conspirator. He turned out to be Vladimir Moiseev who worked in Poland at the same time as Shishmakov alias Shirokov.
Nevertheless, many more people could be involved in the plot as the network included Russian agents, Serbian right-wing extremists, and Montenegrin opposition activists. According to investigators, in the night ahead of the foiled coup, as many as 50 GRU agents crossed the Serbian-Montenegrin border in order to provide support to the participants in the putsch. Regardless of the trial of the fourteen suspects, the prosecutor’s office and service keep establishing more information on the activities of the putschists.
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