Moscow slams ‘absurd accusations’ that Russia plotted Montenegro coup
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has dismissed as “unsubstantiated” recent allegations claiming Moscow was involved in last year’s Montenegro coup attempt, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was “irresponsible ” to make such accusations.
This comes after British newspaper the Telegraph published a report on Sunday which claimed Moscow had conspired to overthrow Montenegro’s government. Senior UK government sources claimed that Russia plotted to assassinate Montenegro's prime minister and overthrow its government last autumn, allegedly “to sabotage the country's plan to join NATO.”
On Monday, reports emerged suggesting that Montenegro's special prosecutor, Milivoje Katnic, had accused "Russian state bodies" of "involvement" in an alleged attempted coup. "So far, we have had evidence that Russian nationalist structures were behind it, but now we have evidence that Russian state bodies were involved at a certain level," Balkan Insight quoted Katnic as telling the local Atlas TV channel.
The prosecutor also reportedly called on Russian authorities to "investigate which bodies were involved."
However, it wasn't immediately clear whether the Montenegrin official's reported remarks had come before or after the publication in the British media.
Last November, Montenegrin authorities announced they had foiled a coup attempt and arrested some 50 people from Montenegro, Serbia and Russia during the country's parliamentary elections.
“The [Telegraph article] you mentioned stands in the same line as yet another unfounded accusations against us and our country, including hacking attacks against the entire West, interventions in the election campaigns of the majority of Western countries, the Trump administration’s ties with Russian special services and many others. [Yet] none of these unsubstantiated allegations have been supported by any facts,” Lavrov told reporters on Monday, commenting on the Telegraph report.
The Russian Embassy in London earlier also rejected the report as “pure innuendo.”
The entire report is a recycling of long discarded news in order to “to stoke tensions with Russia,” the Russian embassy said on Sunday. Previously, Moscow had already “categorically denied the possibility of official involvement in any attempts to commit any unlawful activities” during parliamentary elections in Montenegro in October 2016.
The Telegraph published its report citing unnamed “senior Whitehall sources,” but last week Montenegro prosecutor Milivoje Katnic openly accused Moscow of orchestrating the coup attempt, according to AFP.
“So far we have had evidence that Russian nationalist structures were behind [the plot], but now also that Russian state bodies were involved at a certain level,” Katnic told local media on Sunday evening.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that making such statements without intending to provide proof to back them is irresponsible for an official.
“Day after day we hear absurd accusations against Russia; day after day we disprove them. With all due responsibility, we declare that there can be no talk of the involvement of official Moscow or any officials from Russia in the internal events in Montenegro.
Russia did not, does not, and will not interfere in the internal affairs of other states, especially such as Montenegro, with whom we have very good relations. We regret that such accusations come from officials. They are too serious to utter them without supporting them with any reliable information. This is, at the very least, irresponsible,” Peskov told reporters in a daily press call.