Coup or Hoax in Montenegro?**

By Gordon N. Bardos* - Exclusive
Wednesday, December 20th, 2017 @ 7:13PM

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For those who remember the sad spectacle of Colin Powell at the UN Security Council, promoting bogus intelligence alleging Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD,) recent statements by American officials such as vice-president Mike Pence and Senator John McCain about an alleged “Russian-backed-coup attempt” in Montenegro inevitably bring to mind Marx’s famous observation in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon: “History repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

Over the past few months, Pence, McCain along with several foreign policy “experts” and media pundits have been promoting a story about an alleged Russian-backed coup plot in Montenegro. While this allegation is on a different scale of Saddam’s alleged WMD, both incidents show the dangerous degree to which individuals (both foreign and domestic) are willing and able to deceive American gullible policymakers and the general public to achieve their particular objectives. Moreover, while Russia spies, interferes and takes advantage of any power vacuum created to expand its influence – as do most states, especially China, Iran, Turkey and radical Muslim entities – the U.S. and Europe’s Russophobia detract attention from other serious enemies.

Hardliners in Washington argue that the fact that Russia tried to attack democratic Montenegro means we need to get tougher with Moscow. But what if Montenegro is not really a democracy and Russia didn’t try to attack it? The obvious point here is that mistaken understandings of what is really happening are driving us into an even deeper and more dangerous New Cold War while foreclosing potential opportunities for constructive engagement with an important regional power.

Speaking on the floor of the US Senate in June 2017, John McCain laid out the standard narrative of the events surrounding the alleged Russian-backed coup attempt in Montenegro:

perhaps the most disturbing indication of how far Vladimir Putin is willing to go to advance his dark and dangerous view of the world is what happened in October 2016 in the small Balkan country of Montenegro, when Russian intelligence operatives, in league with Serbian nationalists and others, attempted to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Montenegro and murder its prime minister on the country’s Election Day.[i]

A serious examination of the details of this allegation suggests something quite different took place. What should be worrisome for anyone concerned about how American foreign policy is conceptualized and formulated, is how and why leading US officials repeatedly accept and endorse the flimsiest of stories.

The Backdrop

Any determination of what might have happened in Montenegro on Election Day, October 16, 2016, has to take into account the country’s recent history; specifically, the nature of the regime, which has held power in the tiny Balkan country for decades.

Since 1989 Montenegro’s de facto ruler for twenty-five years has been Milo Djukanovic, whom a leading expert on Montenegro, Srdja Pavlovic, has described as “the longest ruling former communist in Eastern Europe.”[ii] In a unique feat in Eastern Europe, Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS, the renamed former League of Communists of Montenegro) has been in power continuously since 1945. From 1989, until he resigned 10 days after he failed to secure a majority in the 2016 elections, Djukanovic has served six terms as prime minister, and one as president.

Maintaining power for so long has depended on a keen sense for shifting political winds (foreign and domestic), and having a deft touch when it comes to controlling the levers of power in this small country. It has also required an abundant level of corruption and electoral fraud.

The political scientist Moises Naim, for instance, has defined Montenegro as a “mafia state” in which:

Government officials enrich themselves and their families and friends while exploiting the money, muscle, political influence, and global connections to criminal syndicates to cement and expand their own power . . . In a mafia state, high government officials actually become integral players in, if not the leaders of, criminal enterprises, and the defense and promotion of those enterprises become official priorities . . . [i]n mafia states, the national interest and the interests of organized crime are now inextricably intertwined.[iii]

For instance, one of Montenegro’s largest banks, Prva Banka (“First Bank”), owned by Djukanovic’s brother and sister, also happens to be the favored bank of many prominent Balkan criminals and drug lords.[iv]

In 2015, Djukanovic himself was named “Man of the Year in Organized Crime” by an international anti-corruption watchdog group. The announcement noted, “. . . this as a lifetime achievement award . . . Nobody outside of Putin has run a state that relies so heavily on corruption, organized crime and dirty politics. It is truly and thoroughly rotten to the core.”[v] None of this, however, prevented Djukanovic from getting the official U.S. stamp of approval by being invited to the White House in April 2014.

The Djukanovic regime has never taken elections for granted. Indeed, the alleged October 2016 Russian-backed coup attempt is at least the third “attack on the state” that has happened in Montenegro on the eve of elections in recent years. For instance, in 1997, during a second round of presidential elections between Djukanovic and a former political rival, Montenegrin security forces arrested 11 people that have “infiltrated from Belgrade and Novi Sad.” They were accused of preparing a terrorist attack. Djukanovic won the runoff, but it would take five years for the Montenegrin Supreme Court to clear those arrested of any criminal responsibility.[vi]

Similarly, on the eve of parliamentary elections in September 2006, Montenegrin security services “uncovered” another budding terrorist plot code-named “Eagle’s Flight” that was allegedly planned by a group of seventeen ethnic Albanians. Pro-forma court proceedings resulted in the group being sentenced to a total of 51 years in prison; Several of the accused, however, went on to sue Montenegro before the European Court of Human Rights, alleging that while in custody they had been tortured and starved to extort their confessions.[vii]

Clearly, the Djukanovic regime has developed a well-honed technique for manipulating the levers of power to maintain control over the country. In the past couple of years, however, defections from his own ruling coalition and a more organized united opposition have begun to threaten Djukanovic’s decades-long grip on power. This was most evident in Montenegro’s widespread popular demonstrations in 2015, in which the political opposition was able to bring thousands of people onto to the streets for weeks-long demonstrations. Faced with such unprecedented opposition, Djukanovic realized that the outcome of the October 2016 elections could not be taken for granted.

October 2016: Coup or Hoax?

Extra help was thus needed to ensure victory in Montenegro’s 2016 elections, and it came in the form of what has become internationally known as a ‘Russian-backed coup attempt.’

According to the Montenegrin Special State Prosecutor, Milivoje Katnic, a few days before the elections he uncovered “an organized criminal group” that was planning on committing – in Katnic’s own words – an “unprecedented horror” on the streets of the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica, and that Montenegro would have been “shrouded in black as never in its history.” According to Katnic, several teams composed of dozens of people were supposed to wreak havoc in various cities in Montenegro, fire on crowds, attack military units, overthrow the government, and ultimately assassinate the prime minister. Some of these units, according to Katnic, were composed of former soldiers and police officers, although only one of the teams was ultimately identified.

Curiously, having discovered such a dangerous, nation-wide plot, which according to Katnic involved up to 500 people (many of which were unidentified and at large),[viii] Katnićthen kept quite. He did not inform the interior minister, Goran Danilovic  (responsible for police forces), or the defense minister, Milica Pejanovic-Djurisic (whose military units were allegedly going to be attacked), nor the country’s Council for National Security about such an unprecedented threat to the country. Even the target of the plot, Djukanovic himself, said he only found out about the alleged affair from media reports.

This point deserves further examination. In comparative terms, populations, 500 people in Montenegro equal 250,000 in the U.S. Can you imagine that a special prosecutor in the U.S. claiming that he or she has uncovered a foreign-backed conspiracy involving 250,000 people who were planning to kill people across the country, attack military units, occupy Congress and assassinate the president—but telling anyone about it? There would be only two logical explanations for this sort of behavior. Either the special prosecutor is a dangerously incompetent and treasonous buffoon or the story is a fabricated hoax and there never was any real threat, to begin with.

As Interior Minister Danilovic himself noted somewhat incredulously in the days after the alleged coup attempt was made public “There has not been a meeting of the government or of the Council for National Security, the state president has said that he does not want to comment, the prime minister said that he does not know anything about it or that he does not have enough information . . . I have to admit that this is a very specific ‘coup d’etat’.”[ix]

Furthermore, despite the fact that Katnic alleged that the plot was directed from neighboring Serbia, he did not inform his Serbian counterparts of this information or request their cooperation to disrupt the conspiracy. Even more curiously, despite the fact Katnic was apparently running a covert intelligence operation in a neighboring, sovereign country—carrying out surveillance of “coup plotters,” directing their actions, acquiring and transporting weapons across Serbian territory, etc., there have been no protests from Belgrade authorities about Katnic’s actions.

Indeed, the reactions of Belgrade officials to the alleged events were confused and contradictory. After expressing his skepticism about the allegations on the day the purported coup attempt was made public, then-Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic did an about-face and gave a press conference in which he said that “we have incontrovertible evidence that specific people—and these certainly are not the people who have been arrested [in Montenegro]—were following the movements of the Montenegrin prime minister on a daily basis, at every second, and informed other individuals who were supposed to act on the basis of this information . . . We have much information, details, direct confessions, photographs . . . in every proceeding you will see everything.”[x] A full fourteen months later, however, official Belgrade has provided any detailed information about this affair.

Added confusion was sown by the visit to Belgrade a few days after the alleged coup of Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, and reportedly a close Putin confidante. Although unconfirmed news reports claimed it was an emergency visit to deal with the aftermath of the coup, both the Russian foreign ministry and Serbian government officials said the visit had in fact been scheduled months in advance.[xi] Similarly, some reports claimed that two Russian nationals who have been involved in the affair were deported from Serbia. This information was later officially denied.

In the meantime, Katnic had milked his alleged coup attempt for all it was worth. Despite having “uncovered” the plot days earlier, Katnic waited until Election Day itself to move. In a concerted effort to manufacture a sense of emergency in the country, internet communication apps such as Viber and WhatsApp were shut down, and twenty individuals had been rounded up were brought to Katnic’s office one by one, sirens blaring all day long in Podgorica.[xii]

Yet the alleged coup plotters arrested by Katnic raised eyebrows; as one investigative journalist put it, the characters involved were more suited to opera buffa than espionage.[xiii] According to the New York Times, many of the people arrested in the plot “were elderly and in ill-health.”[xiv] Those arrested consisted of “a tile-installer, an agricultural laborer and taxi-driver, a tailor, a musician, a fisherman, an ambulance-driver, a theater production designer, and a retired construction technician.[xv] This motley band of alleged coup plotters, it should be noted, was supposed to overthrow a government defended by 5000 trained police officers and 2000 military personnel.

Of the twenty arrested, six were released the next day. Five other alleged participants were released a few months later after admitting their involvement in the plot, although at least one of the accused quickly declared that his guilty plea had been coerced. Interestingly, none of the five people who pled guilty claimed to know who the leader of the coup was.[xvi] Yet another person who has subsequently been released is Mihajlo Cadjenovic, a driver for opposition leader Andrija Mandic who claims government prosecutors attempted to get him to provide false testimony implicating Mandic’s in the “plot.” He refused, and after eight months imprisonment was finally released.[xvii]

Over the following months, as more information about the alleged coup has become known, the more incredible the allegations have become.

Most of Katnic’s case rests on the testimony—as does most of John McCain’s floor testimony in the Senate—of a man named Aleksandar (Sasa) Sindjelic, a fantasist with a history of mental illness whose greatest achievement in life appears to have been the theft of a tractor and the murder of its owner.[xviii] Interestingly, Sindjelic was quickly transformed from being the main organizer of the plot to the prosecution’s star witness. Among the many absurdities that Sindjelic has “revealed” during courtroom testimony has been his belief that Montenegro’s “pro-Russian opposition” was, in fact, working for Western intelligence services. Sindjelic has also claimed that Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov was involved, and was intending to finance a post-coup government.[xix]

Sindjelic is the sole individual who has claimed contact with Russian intelligence agents. According to Sindjelic, two GRU agents named Eduard Shirokov and Vladimir Popov asked him to organize the coup — on three weeks’ notice — and provided him with financing and equipment. Shirokov had allegedly previously been posted in Poland, where he was uncovered as a spy and forced to leave the country. However, despite the fact that he had already been outed as a spy and was known to Western intelligence agencies, Russian intelligence services allegedly decided to have Shirokov run what one news report called “one of the most audacious examples of the Kremlin’s attempts to undermine European democracies.” Curiously, the GRU did not even try very hard to give him a new identity—his new cover name only had a few syllables changed, thus, “Eduard Shirokov” became “Eduard Shishmakov.” Montenegrin officials claim that further “evidence” of Russia’s hand in the coup plot could be seen in the transfer of monies from a Western Union located on the same street as GRU headquarters in Moscow to Sindjelic’s bank account in Belgrade. [xx] This, of course, is intended to make us believe that to finance the overthrow of a foreign government and assassinate a country’s leader Russian intelligence agents do not take cash out of a black budget, but walk down the street to their local bank and stand in line for a teller to make an easily traceable wire transfer.

Sindjelic’s testimony has been littered with other inconsistencies, contradictions and probable prevarications throughout this process. On one occasion, he stated that in September 2016 he traveled to Moscow to meet with Shirokov/Shishmakov, but was not allowed out of the transit zone at Sheretmetyevo Airport because of passport irregularities. In subsequent testimony, he claimed he was able to leave Belgrade airport without obtaining an exit stamp on his passport and when he arrived in Moscow Shirokov arranged for him to bypass passport and customs controls.[xxi]

The other witness for the prosecution in the case, Miroslav Velimirovic, also turned out as a comic figure. Velimirovic was allegedly tasked with acquiring weapons for the plot, but got cold feet and turned himself in, to Montenegrin police several days before the coup was to take place.[xxii] Although Velimirovic testified that he bought armaments for the plot, the weapons have never been produced because he claimed he destroyed and dumped them in a lake in Kosovo—but the location of the lake has never been revealed either. In his testimony, Velimirovic gave “wildly conflicting accounts” of the weapon to be used to assassinate Djukanovic.

The case took another bizarre turn in April 2017 when Velimirovic renounced his testimony altogether and claimed that his earlier statements had been made under duress.[xxiii] A few days later he had a serious “car accident.” He then claimed that his earlier denial had been coerced. In any case, despite allegedly being involved in an attempt to overthrow the constitutional order and assassinate the country’s prime minister, Velimirovic was released on €100 bond. (By way of comparison, individuals charged with disturbing the court proceedings have been given €500 fines.)

Another alleged conspirator in the plot, a self-confessed drug addict named Milos Jovanovic, was tasked with breaking windows and throwing Molotov cocktails at a political party headquarters—but he got the address wrong.[xxiv] During his confused testimony Jovanovic claimed “Actually, I don’t even know what I was supposed to do. The only people I know here are people who work for the government.”[xxv]

This improbable story has, of course, been promoted on this side of the Atlantic as well. In June 2017, one witness testified before a U.S. Senate committee that a former commander of Serbia’s gendarme force, Bratislav Dikic admitted his involvement in the affair. In fact, Dikic has done no such thing, and has consistently denied any guilt related to this so-called “plot.”[xxvi] The fact that Dikic was forced to suffer through these proceedings while terminally ill with cancer makes this farce all the more distasteful.

As time has passed, even Katnic has begun to contradict his own version of events.

In February 2017, Katnic claimed to have evidence that Russia’s Federal Security Bureau (FSB) had been involved in the alleged coup attempt, adding that “we know that Russian state organs are behind this.”[xxvii] In October 2017 Katnic claimed that a unit of GRU commandos to be used in the coup was stationed in the Serbian mountain resort of Zlatibor.[xxviii]  But in November 2017, Katnic claimed that he had never suggested that the Russian government was behind the alleged plot.[xxix] Katnic has also admitted that transcripts made of the alleged conspirators’ communications were “inaccurate” or only “half-accurate.”

* * * * *

Given Balkan politics and intrigue, it will probably take years to get to the bottom of these conflicting claims and purported evidence. However, available information today, one can hypothesize three possible scenarios of what might have happened.

The first, publicly popular version—that this was an official Russian intelligence operation intended to overthrow the Djukanovic regime and prevent the country’s entry into NATO—seems the least likely. Whatever one thinks of Russian diplomacy and security services, few people would accuse them of being unprofessional or sloppy. It strains credulity to believe that on three weeks’ notice, Russian officials would task an intelligence operative whose identity had already been blown to organize a coup with the help of people such as Sindjelic and Velimirovic. Suffice it to say that anyone who has watched their court appearances would quickly realize that knocking off a lemonade stand would strain the mental capabilities of these individuals. Moreover, it’s an open secret that for decades Moscow has had sympathetic individuals in the military establishments and security services of all the Balkan states. Any serious attempt to overthrow the Montenegrin government—or any other government in the region—would have activated these people rather than relying on the likes of Sindjelic and Velimirovic.

A second possibility is that this might have been a rogue, unauthorized operation by shady Russian and Serbian nationalists. Evidence supporting this possibility could be found in the existence of photos purporting to show Sindjelic meeting with individuals who are claimed to be Shirkovo/Shishmakov and Popov in a Belgrade park.  Though, if this had been a serious surveillance operation one wonders why uni-directional microphones weren’t used to pick up the conversation of the alleged coup plotters. Nevertheless, while this possibility seems slightly more plausible and cannot be discounted altogether, it is still difficult to reconcile with all the other inconsistencies and absurdities that have emerged in the official accounting of these events.

The third possibility is that this was a hoax designed and perpetrated by the Djukanovic regime to create a sense of emergency in the country, smear its political opponents as “pro-Russian traitors,” and ultimately provide the regime with yet another term in office. Supporting this possibility is the fact that Djukanovic’s clique has already (successfully) used this trick on several occasions.

Djukanovic probably also rightly calculated that the U.S. the EU, and NATO would allow him to do anything he needed to do to stay in power. As Vanja Calovic, one of Montenegro’s leading human rights and anti-corruption activists, has noted with regard to the “Russian-coup” plot,

Djukanovic portrays NATO and Russia as the major issue; and he’s succeeding because looking at Montenegro from London or Washington, of course you’re going to say this is more important than what’s actually happening in the country: the corruption and human rights violations. Montenegro is a haven for criminals and provides them with different kinds of support like money laundering. This is what Djukanović is trying to hide from the West by putting NATO as the major issue.[xxx]

Of course, in Djukanovic’s Montenegro, this sort of critique does not go unpunished. For people who find any critical comments about women beyond the pale, Djukanovic has taken such misogyny to a whole new level—in 2015 he and his surrogates launched a public smear campaign against Vanja Calovic, accusing her of having sex with dogs. It bears noting that in the same year the U.S. Embassy in Podgorica named Calovic the “Most Courageous Woman in Montenegro.”[xxxi]

* * * * *

As farcical as much of this may seem, what has been happening in Montenegro points to more serious, Europe-wide problems. Since the fall of communism, Western policy towards Eastern Europe has been based on the belief that the mere promise of EU accession would in and of itself have lasting, transformational effects on the political, economic, and legal systems of these states, and turn them into the “liberal democracies” fetishized in the foreign policy salons of New York and Washington. What we have seen across the region, however, and especially in countries such as Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, is quite the opposite. Not only are these countries not transforming as expected, they are now actively and consciously rejecting the political and social directives issued by Brussels. Thus, the entire paradigm of Euro-Atlantic integration as a catalyst for democratic reform is now seriously in question.

The Montenegrin example points to something even more concerning. In the current political climate in which the perceived need to wage Cold War against Russia/Putin subsumes all other interests, Western policymakers, whether consciously or not, now view NATO accession as an alternative to democratic reform—and Balkan authoritarians have been quick to understand this. It is no exaggeration to say that the consequences of current Western policy in the Balkans—pursuing Cold War against Russia at all costs—are guaranteed to delay the region’s democratization for yet another generation. The political scientist and Montenegro expert Srdja Pavlovic has termed this phenomenon stabilotocracy. Hence,

The core value of stabilitocracy is a conviction that protecting and promoting western interests is paramount. It is, however, a two-way street. Regimes which understand that core conviction and are willing to protect and sustain western geo-political, security, military, economic, or energy related interests in a given country are usually spared the wrath of the great powers such as the United States, the UK, or the European Union. Local autocrats, therefore, can do whatever suits their needs in their private domains . . . Stabilitocracy enables the West to maintain its rhetoric of promoting democracy, free, fair, and transparent elections, an independent judiciary, a strong parliament, the rule of law, the protection of human rights, and the need to fight against corruption and organised crime. At the same time, it enables the local partner to establish a façade democracy while diminishing the role of parliament, holding unfair elections, criminalising the local political arena, assuming dictatorial powers, enacting predatory laws aimed at eliminating political competition, and stifling dissent as well as plundering a country’s resources for the benefit of political leaders and their closest associates.[xxxii]

Empirical evidence to illustrate these phenomena is readily available. Since 2006 Montenegro has gained independence, become an EU candidate country, and is now a NATO member. During this same time, however, according to the Economic Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, Montenegro economy has fallen from 58th place in 2006 to 85th place in 2016. Reporters Sans Frontieres reports Montenegro’s rank in its annual Press Freedom Index has declined substantially as well, declining from 58th place in 2007 to 106th in 2017. (Other democracy monitoring organizations, such as Freedom House and the Bertelsmann Transformation Index somewhat more generously have recorded no improvements in Montenegro’s democratization ratings during the course of its “Euro-Atlantic integration.”)

Another question that the Montenegrin case raises is whether we can formulate effective, relevant, and stabilizing Balkan and Russian policies if the fundamental assumptions underlying these policies are based on false or distorted understandings of the problems facing us.

Finally, to return to Marx’s observation that throughout history tragedy repeats itself as farce. A substantial portion of Colin Powell’s ill-fated presentation before the U.N. Security Council in February 2003 was based on information provided by an Iraqi agent code-named “CURVEBALL,” who turned out to be “a liar … a thief and a poor student instead of the chemical engineering whiz he claimed to be.”[xxxiii] As was subsequently learned, much of CURVEBALL’s description of Saddam Hussein’s biological and chemical weapons came from a Hollywood movie entitled “The Rock.”[xxxiv] The result, as we know, was the death of hundreds of thousands of people and the destabilization of the entire Middle-East.

Though more absurd than tragic, history recently repeated itself in this instance when, speaking from the floor of the U.S. Senate, the former US presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, claimed that the charlatans in the Montenegrin charade were “just one phase of Vladimir Putin’s long-term campaign to weaken the United States, to destabilize Europe, to break the NATO alliance, to undermine confidence in Western values, and to erode any and all resistance to his dark and dangerous view of the world.”

This show politicians and Washington liberal internationalists alike continue to promote any gobbledygook as long as it advances their militaristic, interventionist narratives, agendas, and interests. As the Viennese essayist and satirist Karl Kraus once pointed out, “How is the world ruled and led to war? Diplomats lie to journalists and believe these lies when they see them in print.”

Footnotes

[i] See McCain’s floor statement, “McCain: Russia’s Attempted Coup in Montenegro is Disturbing,” 20 June 2017, at https://www.mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2017/6/mccain-on-senate-floor-today-every-american-should-be-disturbed-by-russia-s-attempted-coup-in-montenegro, accessed 19 December 2017 at 8:48pm EST. US vice-president Mike Pence would essentially endorse the same story during a visit to Podgorica in August 2017; see “Remarks by the Vice President at the Atlantic Charter Summit,” 2 August 2017, at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/08/02/remarks-vice-president-adriatic-charter-summit

[ii] See Srdja Pavlovic, “Montenegro’s ‘stabilitocracy’: The West’s support of Đukanović is damaging the prospects of democratic change,” LSE European Politics and Policy, 23 December 2016, at http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2016/12/23/montenegros-stabilitocracy-how-the-wests-support-of-dukanovic-is-damaging-the-prospects-of-democratic-change/

[iii] See Moises Naim, “Mafia States: Organized Crime Takes Office” Foreign Affairs (May/June 2012).

[iv] See Miranda Patrucic, “Montenegro: Prime Minister’s Family Bank Catered to Organized Crime,” Organization for Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, 8 April 2014, at https://www.reportingproject.net/unholyalliances/prime-ministers-family-bank-catered-to-organized-crime.html.ucić, Mirsad Brkić, and Svjetlana Čelić, “Djukanović’s Montenegro a Family Business,” The Center for Public Integrity, 2 June 2009, at https://www.publicintegrity.org/2009/06/02/6349/djukanovic-s-montenegro-family-business.

[v] See “2015 Man of the Year in Organized Crime: Milo Djukanovic,” Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, at https://www.occrp.org/personoftheyear/2015/

[vi] See Predrag Tomovic, “Predizborna hapsenja u Crnoj Gori: Od Ramba do ‘orlovog leta’,” Radio Slobodna Evropa,  25 oktobar 2016, at https://www.slobodnaevropa.org/a/istorija-predizbornih-hapsenja-u-crnoj-gori/28073982.html,.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] On the numbers Katnic cited, see Dusica Tomovic, “Montenegro Opposition Slam Coup Plotter’s ‘Witness’ Status in Court,” BalkanInsight, 25 November 2016, at http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/blame-game-continues-as-montenegro-offers-witness-status-to-coup-plotter-11-24-2016

[ix] All of this was revealed in Katnic’s own telling of this story during his interview on the program Nacisto (Vijesti TV), which aired on 25 November 2016, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnuNtGgePn0. See also Srdjan Jankovic, “Zasto Podgorica nije obavijestila NATO o ‘drzavnom udaru’?” Radio Slobodna Evropa, 28 October 2017, at https://www.slobodnaevropa.org/a/crna-gora-nato-hapsenje/28080798.html, and Svetlana Djokic, “Danilovic: Smisljena podvala,” Vijesti, 19 October 2016, at http://www.vijesti.me/tv/danilovic-smisljena-podvala-908184

[x] Vucic’s remarks can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlKuwcsSPBw

[xi] See, for instance, the comments by Serbian Interior Minister and deputy prime minister Nebojsa Stefanovic as cited in “Why was Russia’s top security official really in Belgrade?”, B92 (Belgrade), 28 October 2016, at https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2016&mm=10&dd=28&nav_id=99536, and “Reports about deported Russians ‘absolutely false’,” B92 (Belgrade), 28 October 2016, at https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2016&mm=10&dd=28&nav_id=99543

[xii] See Valery Hopkins, “Indictment Tells Murky Montenegrin Coup Tale,” Politico.eu, 23 May 2017, at http://www.politico.eu/article/montenegro-nato-milo-dukanovicmurky-coup-plot/

[xiii] Hopkins, “Indictment Tells Murky Montenegrin Coup Tale,” op. cit.

[xiv] See Andrew Higgins, “Finger Pointed at Russians in Alleged Coup Plot in Montenegro,” The New York Times, 26 November 2017, at https://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/11/26/world/europe/finger-pointed-at-russians-in-alleged-coup-plot-in-montenegro.html?_r=0&referer=http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/michael-j-totten/why-vladimir-putin-covets-montenegro

[xv] See Dusica Tomovic, “Dva oka u glavi,” Vreme (Belgrade), 27 October 2016, at http://www.vreme.com/cms/view.php?id=1438121

[xvi] See “Pet meseci zatvora za pet drzavljana Srbije zbog terorizma,” Politika (Belgrade), 8 March 2017, at http://www.politika.rs/sr/clanak/375788/Pet-meseci-zatvora-za-pet-drzavljana-Srbije-zbog-terorizma

[xvii] See Srdjan Jankovic, “Sudjenje za ‘drzavni udar’: Jesu li krivci cetnici ili statisti?” Radio Slobodna Evropa, 27 septembar 2017, at https://www.slobodnaevropa.org/a/drzavni-udar-sudjenje-deveti-dan/28760374.html

[xviii] Hopkins, “Indictment Tells Murky Montenegrin Coup Tale,” op. cit.

[xix] See “Sesnaesti dan sudjenja: Sindjelic pricao o Ediju, Dikicu, DF, Branku Micunovicu . . . “ Vijesti (Podgorica), 26 October 2017, at http://www.vijesti.me/vijesti/sesnaesti-dan-sudenja-sindelic-pricao-o-ediju-dikicu-df-branu-micunovicu-960274

[xx] See Ben Farmer, “Surveillance photos ‘show Russian intelligence officer plotting Montenegro coup’,” The Telegraph (UK), 29 August 2017 at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/28/surveillance-photos-show-russian-intelligence-officers-plotting/

[xxi] See Jelena Jovanovic and Danilo Mihailovic, “Sta je Sindjelic ispricao dok je bio osumnjiceni: Velike razlike u odnosu na sadasnju verziju,” Vijesti (Podgorica), 19 November 2017, at http://www.vijesti.me/vijesti/sta-je-sindelic-ispricao-dok-je-bio-osumnjiceni-velike-razlike-u-odnosu-na-sadasnju-verziju-963810

[xxii] See Katnic’s account of this during his interview on the program Ziva istina (Atlas TV Montenegro), which aired on 19 February 2017, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Y_abuCyzNY

[xxiii] See Glenn Ellis and Katerina Barushka, “A Very Montenegrin Coup,” Al Jazeera, 2 March 2017, at http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/2017/03/montenegrin-coup-170302060130440.html

[xxiv] Jovanovic’s courtroom testimony is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnJHAg3MI00

[xxv] See Jelena Zoric, “Optuzeni u Crnoj Gori priznao dogovor, ne i krivicno delo,” N1info, 7 September 2017, at http://rs.n1info.com/a316354/Svet/Region/Sudjenje-Milosu-Jovanovicu-u-Crnoj-Gori.html

[xxvi] See the testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, entitled “Russian Interfirince (sic) in European Elections: Russia and Montenegro,” 28 June 2017, page 7, at https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/documents/sfr-vgarcevic-062817b.pdf

[xxvii] See “Katnic: Odredjeni ruski drzavni organi umesani u pokusaj terorizma u CG,” Radio Slobodna Evropa, 19 February 2017, at https://www.slobodnaevropa.org/a/28318828.html, and Milena Veselinovic and Darran Simon, “Montenegro: Russia involved in attempted coup,” CNN.com, 21 February 2017, at http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/21/europe/montenegro-attempted-coup-accusation/index.html

[xxviii] See “Trinaesti dan suđenje: Sef voznog parka, GRU na Zlatiboru, HTZ oprema i Tesa Tesanović,” Vijesti (Podgorica), 6 October 2017, at http://www.vijesti.me/vijesti/trinaesti-dan-sudenja-sef-voznog-parka-gru-na-zlatiboru-htz-oprema-i-tesa-tes-957446

[xxix] See Nebojsa Redzic, “Tuzilac Katnic tvrdi da nije optuzivao Srbiju i Rusiju,” Glas Amerike, 17 November 2017, at https://www.glasamerike.net/a/tuzilac-katnic-tvrdi-da-nije-optuzivao-srbiju-i-rusiju/4120399.html

[xxx] See Ellis and Barushka, “A Very Montenegrin Coup,” op. cit.

[xxxi] See Mila Radulovic, “Calovic je najhrabrija žena u CG: Ponosna sam, nastavicemo borbu,” Vijesti (Podgorica), 21 April 2015, at  http://www.vijesti.me/vijesti/calovic-je-najhrabrija-zena-u-cg-ponosna-sam-nastavicemo-da-se-borimo-830002

[xxxii] See Pavlovic, “West is best: How ‘stabilotocracy’ undermines democracy building in the Balkans,” LSE-EUROPP, 5 May 2017, at http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2017/05/05/west-is-best-how-stabilitocracy-undermines-democracy-building-in-the-balkans/

[xxxiii] See “The Record on Curveball: Declassified Documents and Key Participants Show the Importance of Phony Intelligence in the Origins of the Iraq War,” National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 234, John Prados, ed., at https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB234/

[xxxiv] See Gordon Corera, “Chilcot Report: MI6, a Hollywood movie and the faulty intelligence,” BBC.com, 6 July 2016, at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-36713003

* Dr. Gordon N. Bardos is president of SEERECON, a strategic advisory and political risk analysis firm specializing in southeastern Europe. This article is exclusive to ACD.

** One of the leading papers in Montenegro, Vijesti, reprinted the article as a front-page story, citing ACD as the source.   

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