Surveillance photos ‘show Russian intelligence officers plotting Montenegro coup’

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The pictures obtained by European intelligence agencies allegedly show two officers of Russia’s GRU military spy service visiting the Balkans and overseeing the man they hired to orchestrate the bloody overthrow of Montenegro’s government, The Telegraph reported.

Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov are to stand trial next month with 13 others for their part in an election day plot to attack Montenegro’s parliament and kill Milo Djukanovic, the pro-Western leader.

The photographs are believed to have been taken in a Belgrade park around the time of the foiled coup and are a key part of evidence prosecutors say links the plot to Russian “state bodies.”

The Kremlin has strongly denied any involvement and two pro-Russian opposition leaders among the defendants claim the plot is fake and confected to discredit them.

However British and U.S. officials believe the conspiracy had high-level backing from Russia and was one of the most audacious examples of the Kremlin’s attempts to undermine European democracies.

Shishmakov and Popov, who are being tried in their absence, are said to have begun plotting several months earlier, traveling to neighboring Serbia to search for a suitable organizer on the ground.

Shishmakov had in 2014 been expelled from his post as Russian Deputy Military Attache in Poland after the Poles caught him spying, according to the charges against him.

He traveled to the Balkans on a genuine passport made out under the alias Shirokov, which prosecutors claim could only have been issued by official Russian authority.

The Russian pair is alleged to have appointed Aleksandar Sindjelic, a veteran anti-Western activist who had in the past boasted to associates of his ties with the Russian defense ministry.

After the plot was wound up, Sindjelic turned prosecution witness and his testimony will be a key part of the trial.

Surveillance pictures show Shishmakov and Popov together in a park and also Shishmakov talking to Sindjelic.

Source: Radio Television Montenegro