2 Russians, Others Sentenced in 2016 Montenegro Failed Coup

VOA’s Eurasia Division contributed to this report.

A Montenegran judge on Thursday sentenced two political opposition members and two Russian intelligence officers for a 2016 plot to overthrow the government and kill the prime minister on election day.

The judge in the capital, Podgorica, said on Oct. 16, 2016, the 13 people sentenced had planned to attack state institutions, murder then-Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, and install a pro-Russian regime in government.

The two Russians, Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov, were convicted in absentia of “attempted terrorism” and “creating a criminal organization.” The court gave Shishmakov a 15-year prison term and Popov a 12-year term. The two men — who returned to Russia to avoid arrest — are suspected to be members of Russia’s military intelligence service, the GRU. Moscow denies involvement.

Interpol has released an international arrest warrant for Popov, who, the Bellingcat investigative website reports, is also known as Vladimir Moiseev.

Two Montenegrin opposition members, leaders of the Democratic Front movement, were each given five years in prison, while two Serbian citizens, Nemanja Ristic and Predrag Bogicevic, were given sentences in absentia of seven and eight years.

The Montenegrin politicians say they plan to appeal the ruling.

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