2016-10-16 19:57:00

Montenegro detains 20 Serbs planning election attacks

(Vatican Radio) Police in Montenegro say they have detained 20 Serbs suspected of planning armed attacks after voting closes in the Balkan country's parliamentary elections. News of the attack comes as the pro-Western prime minister faces his toughest challenge yet to his quarter-century rule in a vote that commentators have described as as a choice between Russia and the West. 

Listen to the report by Stefan Bos:

As voting was underway, Montenegro's police said the 20 Serbs detained overnight came from neighboring Serbia and planned to collect automatic weapons to attack state institutions, police and possibly state officials. The suspects allegedly planned to carry out the massive attacks after Sunday's already tense parliamentary elections. 

In a statement, Police Director Slavko Stojanovic said the Serbs were charged with "forming a criminal organization and terrorism." He said one Serbian is still on the run.

The prosecutor's office said the group planned to attack people who gather in front of the parliament when the vote results are proclaimed, then storm the building in the capital and declare the victory "of certain parties" in the election. The statement claimed that they planned to capture Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.

Police vans were seen bringing in the handcuffed suspects to the prosecutor's office in Podgorica, the capital.


People in Montenegro had expressed fear that violence could erupt on the streets of the capital Podgorica between opposition and government supporters after the results of Sunday's vote. The government also said hackers have attacked several web sites, including that of the ruling party.

Yet Serbia's prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic suggested that the arrests might have been staged by the government saying "it's a strange day on which all this is happening."

News of the possible attacks, came as opinion polls show that Montenegro's pro-Western prime minister Milo Djukanovic faces his toughest political challenge in decades. 

The long-ruling Democratic Party of Socialists is competing against pro-Russian and pro-Serbian opposition groups that strongly oppose the country's to join the NATO military alliance and its planned membership of the European Union.  

As he cast his ballot, Prime Minister Djukanovic said: "Following the election I expect Montenegro to keep moving towards its European and Euro-Atlantic integration."


He added that the ballot for the 81-seat parliament will decide whether Montenegro continues on a Western course or becomes "a Russian colony." 

Yet elsewhere Andrija Mandic, who leads the opposition Democratic Front remained confident. "I have no doubt that the opposition will show the strength it has and that the Democratic Front will be in the centre of the future government," he told reporters. 

Predominantly Orthodox Christian like Russia, Montenegro was Moscow's historical ally. But after splitting with Serbia in a 2006 referendum, Montenegro took a strong turn toward Western integrations.

The latest polls show that Djukanovic’s party will win a majority in parliament. However, if it does not get enough seats to rule alone, he might have difficulties forming a ruling coalition. 

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