PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) — Montenegro's prime minister suggested Tuesday that Russia was involved in an alleged coup attempt on the country's election day and he accused the opposition of collaborating with the Kremlin.
Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said there was "a strong connection of a foreign factor" in the Oct. 16 vote, which was marked by the arrest of 20 people suspected of planning armed attacks against Djukanovic and his supporters after parliamentary election results were announced.
Russia has strongly opposed Montenegro's bid to join NATO. Opposition leaders have made frequent visits to Moscow ahead of the vote.
The Montenegro prosecutor's office has alleged the group planned to attack people in front of Parliament after the vote results were proclaimed, then storm the building and arrest Djukanovic.
Among those arrested was a former commander of Serbia's special police forces.
Djukanovic said authorities would investigate the extent of the involvement in the alleged coup attempt both by Russia and Serbia. Montenegro split from Serbia after an independence vote in 2006.
"There should be no panic ... we will find out the facts," Djukanovic told reporters.
Russia has launched a propaganda campaign to keep both Serbia and Montenegro, which are seeking European Union membership, within its sphere of control. Both countries are traditional Christian Orthodox allies.
After first denying that Serbia was involved in the election, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Monday that an unspecified number of people were arrested in Serbia following the alleged coup in Montenegro.
Vucic said the people arrested were not connected to politicians in either country, but had ties to a third country and criminal groups. He did not name the country.
Djukanovic's pro-Western party won the election, but needs coalition partners to continue its 27-year rule.
AP Writer Dusan Stojanovic contributed from Belgrade, Serbia