PODGORICA, Montenegro – A key witness in the trial of 14 suspected plotters to topple Montenegro's government has directly implicated an alleged Russian secret service operative in organizing the coup attempt.
Witness Aleksandar Sindjelic testified Thursday that the Russian, Eduard Shishmakov, gave him money to organize some 500 people to trigger disturbances in the capital, Podgorica, on the day of last year's parliamentary election.
The 14 defendants, mostly Serbs, are charged with "creating a criminal organization" with the aim of undermining Montenegro's constitutional order and thwarting the pro-Western government's bid to join NATO.
Two Russians are additionally charged with terrorism. The pair, identified as Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov, allegedly coordinated the Oct. 16 coup attempt from neighboring Serbia. They were allowed to leave Serbia for Russia and are being tried in absentia.