By Danielle Silvia
Nearly 20 Serbians were arrested in Montenegro for terror offenses on Sunday, Oct. 16, but it has since been discovered that Russian nationalists were behind the plot to assassinate prime minister Milo Djukanovic.
Montenegrin prosecutor Milivoje Katnic told BBC News that the plot included the plan to kill the pro-Western prime minister with a “long-distance sharpshooter.”
The prime minister was a target because he had a bid to join NATO, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“The plan was to stop Montenegro on its Euro-Atlantic path, especially to prevent it from entering NATO,” Katnic told The Wall Street Journal, which also reported that the perpetrators might have wanted to prevent further ties from forming between Europe and Montenegro.
Radio Free Europe said Montenegro’s invite to join NATO has been established since December 2015.
The plot is believed to have been an attempt to bring a pro-Russian government official to power, but there is no evidence that the Russian state itself was involved, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“We don’t have any evidence that the state of Russia is involved in any sense… but we have evidence that two nationalists from Russia were organizers,” Katnic said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The arrests occurred on Montenegro’s Election Day. As of Monday, Nov. 7, 14 of the arrested individuals are still in custody, according to The Wall Street Journal
Since the arrests, nearly €125,000 has been discovered as well as uniforms, which proves the scheme was more detailed than imagined, according to Djukanovic’s report to BBC News.
Many many were upset with the fact that Djukanovic, a democrat socialist, won the election back in October. The fact Djukanovic does not plan to create ties with Europe anytime in the near future is further upsetting citizens, BBC News reported.
Radio Free Europe reported that although Djukanovic won the election, he will perhaps “need to form a coalition to stay in government.” Ultimately, it will take some time to determine if that will be necessary and, if so, what type of further action will be required.
The Wall Street Journal reported that NATO’s Deputy Secretary-General Rose Gottemoeller expects Montenegro to join NATO within the next year after each of the 28 NATO members agree to the addition in their respective parliament branches.
Many natives of Montenegro are unsatisfied with the prime minister’s decision to join NATO, but the country feels safe having a prime minister alive and intact to make executive decisions for the country’s prosperity, according to the Wall Street Journal.