PODGORICA, 20. FEB. 2017 – Montenegro’s special prosecutor has accused the “Russian state bodies” of involvement in the alleged coup attempt last October, amid dramatic new claims of Moscow’s involvement in bid to overthrow the pro-Western government, B92 media reported. The “Russian state” orchestrated an attempted coup on October 16 in Montenegro in a bid to stop the Balkan country from joining NATO, Montenegrin Prosecutor Milivoje Katnic stated. “So far, we have had evidence that Russian nationalist structures were behind [the coup attempt], but now we have evidence that Russian state bodies were involved at a certain level,” Katnic told the local Atlas TV. Katnic previously said the conspiracy to kill former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and overthrow the pro-Western government was orchestrated by “some Russian nationalists”, but he went a step further, saying the Kremlin was involved. The Montenegro’s opposition has continued to claim that the pro-Western government formerly led by Djukanovic faked the coup plot to discredit both the Democratic Front and the anti-NATO campaign. Opinion in Montenegro remains divided over NATO and the opposition has demanded a referendum on membership. Katnic stressed that “the bodies of the Russian state must investigate which bodies were involved and open a criminal trial over these acts.” The Special Prosecution in November said a criminal group based in Russia, Serbia and Montenegro had intended to “commit a terrorist act” on election day. It claimed the security services had thwarted the coup after the arrest of 20 Serbian citizens, including a former Serbian police general, Bratislav Dikic. On November 18, the Special Prosecution released the names of two Russians – Eduard Shirokov and Vladimir Popov – who it accused of organising the plot. Katnic said the aim of the coup attempt, on election day, was to stop the Balkan country from joining NATO. According to him, the head of the group preparing the coup and the murder of Djukanovic was the Russian citizen Edward Shirokov, currently on the Interpol’s red notice, based on a warrant issued by Montenegrin authorities. Katnic said Shirokov’s real name was Edward Shishmakov, however. “In 2014, Shishmakov was a deputy military attache in the Russian embassy in Poland, but got expelled because of espionage for Russia as a persona non grata. This passport [the new one] was issued to him by the Russian authorities and he is a member of the Russian security services,” Katnic claimed. He said the prosecution’s key witness, Serbian citizen Sasa Sindjelic, was invited to Moscow by Shishmakov to be cleared for the mission. Shishmakov – using the alias Shirakov – “asked him to work first to prevent Montenegro from entering NATO. That is the sole motivation of these structures,” Katnic said. He said the Special State Prosecutor’s Office would complete an indictment against 25 people for the attempted coup by 15 April. Suspects include two leaders of the pro-Russian opposition alliance, the Democratic Front, Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic. Parliament lifted their immunity last week so that they could face charges and be arrested. Both Mandic and Knezevic have dismissed the plot allegations as false. In a surprise decision immediately after the parliamentary vote on immunity on Wednesday, Supreme State Prosecutor Ivica Stankovic ordered that the two men be allowed to remain at liberty. “Stankovic decided not to remand Mandic and Knezevic with the best intentions because Montenegro was on the brink of civil war,” Katnic explained.