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Montenegro parliament moves against members connected to coup

[JURIST] The Parliament of Montenegro [official website] on Monday provisionally approved a motion requesting that immunity be lifted for two officials possibly involved in an attempted coup last October. The motion, raised [TOL report] by Chief Special Prosecutor Milivoje Katnic, named parliament members Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic. They have been accused of "creating a criminal organization ... and preparing an attempt on the constitutional order and security of Montenegro." Parliament is expected to move forward with removing their immunity. The two officials are opposition leaders of the Democratic Front (DF), a pro-Russian group that has firmly opposed the country's plan to join NATO. DF members have been accused of being behind recent violent protests and the failed October coup, though they have continuously denied involvement. Despite the DF's objections, Montenegro is expected [AP report] to finalize the NATO membership process in May.

On October 16, about 20 Serbian citizens were arrested [JURIST report] in Montenegro and accused of attempting a coup against the government on election day. The plan itself was to attack the police outside of Parliament, break into the Montenegro parliament, kill Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, and declare a pro-Russian coalition the party in power. Katnic later accused [Balkan Insight report] Russian nationalists of plotting against the government. Evidence has yet to show that Russia aided the coup in any way. In the months leading to the October election, Djukanovic stated that voters would be deciding whether Montenegro joins the West or becomes a "Russian colony." Djukanovic expressed his belief that the thwarted, terrorist coup was intended to prevent further westernization of the Balkan country. While his party, the Democratic Party of Socialists, won the October election, their failure to win an overall majority may hinder plans to create further Western ties.

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