The abortive coup in Montenegro used to undermine the influence of Moscow.
Montenegro continues the investigation into the coup attempt. Among the suspects — several citizens of Russia, which is accused of organizing a terrorist act and the assassination of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. However, many experts in the country and on the Balkans suggests that the coup was staged, by which Djukanovic has managed to remain in power despite low popularity. About how this story might affect the relations of Russia and Montenegro, "Газете.Ru" said the expert of Institute of Slavic studies George Engelhardt.
— How do you now assess the situation in Montenegro after the scandal with the assassination attempt on the Prime Minister?
— I think we will still have to deal with the consequences of this case. In the first place because the Prime Minister of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic is now in a very difficult position and forced to defend myself means available (Djukanovic's Party won 36 of the 81 seats in Parliament, the opposition — 39; for the formation of the government need 41 votes, so the country's future now depends on the positions of the parties of national minorities, Bosniaks and Albanians are behind the scenes negotiations — note "Газеты.Ru"). So this story will probably become the main tool of its political survival. In addition, you need to understand that now the Prime Minister has quite a powerful lever of pressure on Moscow. And now the main chance Djukanovic is a big conflict between Russia and the West.
After all, this new "cold war" allows you to politicize any dispute in the Balkans. Now the main parties can be forced to accept the fact that someone is a "son of a bitch", the main thing is he "our", but what he's a scoundrel, no one is looking.
Is it possible to say that Russia do somehow may be involved in the assassination? Many experts and world media, in particular, the Washington Times, expressed doubts that the attempted coup took place in fact and called the incident a hoax.
— In this story is the key organizer and the chief witness. It's certainly not a Russian citizen, a Serb Alexander Sindzhelich. It supplies a consequence the bulk of the information. The Sindzhelich ex-convict. Fifteen years spent in the prisons of Serbia and Montenegro. Basically, he has a pretty strong reputation of the agent of the Montenegrin security. Say to the colleagues from Serbia, it also has some relevance.
In the last couple of years Sindzhelich quite actively spun in Moscow in the so-called "Patriotic circles", which was engaged in Donbass. He had not fought, although occasionally accompanied the delivery of humanitarian aid to the region. Probably, gathered information, and now shares the acquired knowledge in Podgorica. Using these data it is possible to come up with something plausible about the coup.
It is important that Sindzhelich actually surrendered to the Montenegrin police and is now just under house arrest. However, if you believe the testimony of the Prosecutor's office of Montenegro, it is the man who recruited all other people and organized the procurement of weapons.
So when they say that some citizens were its leaders, and Sindzhelich acted almost, "superintendent", then it looks pretty unlikely.
According to reports, the Montenegrin media has already been released without charges most of the detainees "terrorists-Serbs".
The same happened in Montenegro in 2006, when on the eve of the elections were revealed, the "Albanian conspiracy" to murder Djukanovic. His "participants" in the end also released without charges, paying compensation.
— Immediately after the arrest of the group was visited by the head of security Council Patrushev in Serbia. Do you think that this visit had something to do with the situation? The Western press wrote that he almost came to apologize.
— I see no reason to doubt that the visit was planned. Another thing is that the stuffing of the story with the coup clearly could affect the negotiations and contributed to the emergence of some new subjects. The media picture looks very neat. Due to the current unpleasant situation of the Belgrade authorities, in particular the Prime Minister of Serbia Alexander Vucic has behaved in the most correct and even friendly against Patrushev. Another thing is that some people inside the government in Belgrade began to merge in the local media the details of the "negotiations" that someone was expelled from the country (the Serbian government officially denied reports about the expulsion of the Russians — note "Газеты.Ru"). All this happened behind Vucic.
— After the elections, Djukanovic resigned. How likely is it that he will again be able to return to lead the country?
— Let's start with the fact that he had already pulled a similar trick. And if I'm not mistaken, even twice. He went for the role of party leader, and it was enough. However, the place the Prime Minister, he offers his fellow party, Dusko Markovic. But Markovic is included in the inner circle the former Prime Minister. He was in charge of his security. Paradoxically, Montenegro, Russia supported the democratic wing, but the West — authoritarians. Although, logically, everything had to be the opposite.
— When Djukanovic was still a politician in Yugoslavia Slobodan Milosevic, he was his loyal ally. Can you compare these two political figures?
— I think that Milosevic was a little bit different style. He was a bureaucrat and a populist. Djukanovic closer second. It is more like don Corleone.
— NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the formal process of accession of Montenegro to NATO should be completed as soon as possible. What are the problems for Russia resulting from membership of Montenegro in NATO?
— In the current, acute situation of confrontation between Russia and the West it will be rather painful political blow for our country. Still, Russia has, paradoxically, been a strong political position in Montenegro. And, of course, this story also struck a very severe blow to the conventional "anti-NATO" forces in the country.
It is clear that by itself, Montenegro does not affect the balance of power in Europe. Except that theoretically, we closed the last possibility of basing the fleet somewhere in the Mediterranean. This can be important from the point of view of any of the balance of power in Serbia and in neighboring Bosnia. But the question is whether this is critical for Russia from the point of view of foreign policy priorities.
However, I still would not put a fat point in the history of the accession of Montenegro to NATO. Yes, of course, there are more chances that this will happen. But the final decision is still pending.
— How the membership of Montenegro in NATO will affect the reduction of the presence of Russian business in the country?
— We have remained mostly private investment. And it is not primarily economic, but rather so-called "private travel". The attempt by Mr Deripaska to invest in the development of the aluminium plant in Podgorica failed. (Currently, the structure of the billionaire are at law with the government of Montenegro, accusing them of misappropriation of investment. — "Газета.Ru"). Another thing is that private investment has potential. But once local authorities realize that the Russian owners can be weak or vulnerable, they will easily begin to put a spoke in the wheel. Will begin any proceedings, clarify and so on.
— Can we say that we are completely lost to Montenegro?
— Montenegro under Djukanovic's regime, we had a great relationship.
If viewed exclusively through the prism of economic cooperation — the construction of villas, the resort, the development of coastal some of the projects were beautiful. Djukanovic even in the West blamed that he was too Pro-Russian politician. But as soon as the Prime Minister's opponents put pressure on his weak spots associated with criminal problems in neighboring Italy (the Italian prosecutors have accused Djukanovic of involvement in cigarette smuggling — note "Газеты.Ru"), he immediately understood everything, politically regrouped and quietly began to forget his business partners from Moscow.
As for Montenegro, it is necessary to speak not about the loss, and the lack of any consistent line of strategy. At the same time, there is no clarity in what Russia wants to achieve in the Balkans. Our policy is generally reactive. If there is any external stimuli, such as some country start to take into NATO, this causes us some response.
Or when the wave of the Ukrainian crisis, we began to supplant the Balkans, we immediately responded.
My subjective opinion is that with whatever "friends" Montenegro, it is unlikely that this "friendship" for anything affected in the country.
Another thing, if Russia had a relatively solid line in the block of the Balkan countries, it is possible that Montenegro would be a more coherent policy.
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