Newsbud Exclusive – The Coup That Never Was: A False NATO Intelligence Narrative in Montenegro

There is an old anecdote about the different types of intelligence agencies. It says that a mediocre intelligence agency is protecting the government from the coup, a good intelligence agency is participating in the coup, while the best intelligence agency is organizing it. Mind you, the government in question is not the foreign government, but one's own.

However, if we examine the intelligence agencies of the Balkan states, set up after the break-up of the Yugoslav Socialist Federation, we will quickly see that we cannot even talk about mediocre intelligence agencies. These agencies have thoroughly been made into the puppets of foreign intelligence networks. For all practical intents and purposes, they do not exist as sovereign entities, but as mere transmission belts of what their foreign mentors want them to do.

The foreign mentors in question are the intelligence agencies of NATO countries, especially the CIA and the MI-6, even though the French, German, and Turkish intelligence agencies have also been active. Since the end of the Cold War, the Russian intelligence agencies, the SVR (the CIA equivalent), the FSB (the FBI equivalent), and the GRU (the DIA equivalent) have only recently begun to have their influence felt. Of course, this is far from saying that their operatives were not present before.  However, it is only since Putin's consolidation of the Russian state that these intelligence agencies have started to demonstrate their independence from the West. In the early to mid-1990s, the Russian intelligence community was forced by then-president Boris Yeltsin to play an inferior role within the CIA-led team, especially regarding the developments in the Balkans. This led to the massive wave of resignations and retirements among KGB officers, many of whom Putin later re-instated. There are indications that in this period the GRU was less infiltrated by the NATO agents of influence (and spies) and therefore less susceptible to Western pressures. As a result, the GRU was able to re-bound much more quickly after Putin's re-orientation of the Russian foreign and military policy and project its power beyond the Russian borders. There is no doubt that the success of the Russian interventions in both Syria and Ukraine has to do in large part with the work of the GRU operatives.

This is the reason why at this time the GRU (rather than the SVR or the FSB) is targeted as the main adversary by the NATO-controlled intelligence agencies in the so-called Western Balkans and the allegations of its involvement are used to discredit Russia as a disruptive, malevolent actor in the eyes of the general population. The case in point is the carefully planned and engineered NATO intelligence-media operation, involving several NATO intelligence agencies, including the pro-NATO Ukrainian SBU, to accuse the alleged GRU operatives of allegedly planning a violent regime-change coup on October 16, 2016, the day of the parliamentary elections in Montenegro.

The GRU Agents in Montenegro?

As I have explained in detail in an earlier article,[1] the deeply unpopular government of the long-time authoritarian leader and NATO-favorite prime minister Milo Djukanović would have had to concede the election victory to the opposition had it not been for the arrest of a group of alleged anti-government plotters during the election day. This classic police and intelligence fabrication was used to intimidate opposition voters from turning out to vote and for pressuring the EU leadership into quickly recognizing the election results. Enveloped in the anti-Russian hysteria, the EU was all too eager to accept the false narrative of the Russian-organized destabilization effort, which was opportunistically constructed by Djukanović and his NATO mentors, and, in this way, legitimize the rigged and fraudulent election process.

In an interview after the elections, Djukanović claimed that the ultimate aim of the alleged coup plotters was not only the violent regime change, but also his assassination. He directly accused certain Russian groups for providing the plotters with logistical and financial support.[2] The official Moscow denied all Djukanović's claims as unfounded.[3] However, this did not stop Djukanović and other pro-NATO politicians and media organizations both in Montenegro and beyond from further unfolding the false narrative.

Already in early November, the Montenegrin chief special prosecutor Milivoje Katnić, a member of the corrupt Djukanović's ruling elite, claimed that even though the alleged coup plotters were Serbian citizens (and most were released without being charged just a few days after the arrest), the coup attempt was actually organized and financed by "Russian nationalists" based in Belgrade.[4] He claimed that these "Russian nationalists," who were kept under surveillance by the Serbian intelligence agency (BIA), left for Russia in a hurry after the arrest of the alleged plotters. The NATO-controlled media in Serbia later claimed that some Russian "spies" were indeed deported by the Serbian government.[5] However, the Russian ambassador in Serbia Alexander Chepurin denied that anything of the sort took place and stated that it was already common knowledge what powers (and intelligence agencies) had always stood behind the planning and execution of regime change projects.[6] This was a diplomatic way of putting the ball back into the NATO court.

The confirmation of the direct involvement of NATO intelligence agencies and their puppets in non-NATO countries came from a FB post by Taras Berezovets, a pro-NATO Ukrainian political analyst and a graduate of the Royal College of Defense Studies in the U.K. Berezovets wrote that the alleged plotters were exposed thanks to the activities of the Ukrainian intelligence agency (SBU) in cooperation with the U.S. intelligence operatives.[7] He claimed that the plotters included a group of the Serbian militants who fought in the Donbass on the side of the rebels and were on the radar of the Ukrainian intelligence for years. Berezovets characterized their arrest and the prevention of the coup against Djukanović as "a victory of the Ukrainian counter-intelligence over the Russian intelligence" far away from home. The Russian government-financed news agency Sputnik covered Berezovets' post in the story with the title "Dreaming is not Prohibited."[8]

A Criminal as an Intelligence Operative

However, it is true that Aleksandar Sindjelić, accused by the Montenegrin chief special prosecutor Katnić of being the alleged plotters' leader and the main liaison with the alleged Russian coup organizers and financiers, took part in the rebel fighting in Ukraine. What is not clear, and this is of utmost importance, is who in fact Sindjelić has been working for: the Russian military intelligence (GRU), or the NATO-controlled personnel within the Serbian and Montenegrin intelligence apparatus.

Just like a typical patsy, Sindjelić is a murky character to the extreme.[9] According to the Serbian tabloid press, he murdered two fellow soldiers during the mandatory draft training in 1999. He served his prison sentence in both Serbian and Montenegrin prisons (this was before Serbia and Montenegro became independent states), but was let out earlier under unexplained circumstances. According to one of his acquaintances from that period, Sindjelić boasted that he became an undercover intelligence operative and was granted a false identity.[10] This fits well with the documented history of the Montenegrin intelligence agency's recruiting jailed criminals and murderers for dirty jobs in foreign countries going back to the days of the infamous Yugoslav intelligence agency (UDBA).[11]

That Sindjelić is a Montenegrin NATO-directed operative and not an agent of the Russian GRU is further confirmed by two subsequent events. First, when the chief special prosecutor Katnić accused Sindjelić of being the leader of the alleged coup, Sindjelić was in Belgrade and conceivably could have escaped to Russia (just as his financiers are alleged to have done). Instead, he decided to surrender and voluntarily came to Montenegro.[12] Secondly, after Sindjelić spent no more than a couple weeks in a Montenegrin jail, Katnić announced that Sindjelić agreed to be an informant for the prosecution. He also modified his initial charges against Sindjelić and now claimed that Sindjelić was not a leader, but a mere rank-and-file member of the alleged plotters' group.[13] Subsequently, Sindjelić was freed from jail under the obligation to return when the trial begins. Would any country in the world let an individual charged with taking part in a violent coup with the intent to assassinate the head of government go free like this, unless the coup itself was a fabrication by that very same government and its political and intelligence allies?

This, however, is not to say that we will soon see the winding down of the false narrative. This is far from being the final act, even though Djukanović apparently obtained what he wanted: his political party was able to form the new government and continue pushing from the top down the deeply unpopular accession to NATO without a national referendum. Yet this is not good enough for his NATO intelligence mentors. They want Djukanović to keep Montenegro as an open anti-Russian front in the new Cold War. This is why Katnić, while effectively exonerating Sindjelić, directly named two Russian citizens, Eduard Vladimirovich Shirokov and Vladimir Nikolaevich Popov, and accused them of organizing and financing the alleged coup.[14]

It is Shirokov and Popov who are alleged to be the GRU agents. At this time, there is no evidence to either confirm or deny that allegation. However, even if, in fact, it turns out that they were the GRU agents based in Serbia, it is more than likely, taking into consideration Sindjelić's profile presented above, that they were egged on and entrapped by him rather than the other way round. In any case, the already severe political tensions between Montenegro and Russia, gleefully provoked by NATO intelligence agencies, at the great detriment of the vast majority of the Montenegrin citizens, are bound to increase in the coming period.

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Dr. Filip Kovacevic, Newsbud Analyst & commentator, is a geopolitical author, university professor and the chairman of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro. He received his BA and PhD in political science in the US and was a visiting professor at St. Petersburg State University in Russia for two years. He is the author of seven books, dozens of academic articles & conference presentations and hundreds of newspaper columns and media commentaries. He has been invited to lecture throughout the EU, Balkans, ex-USSR and the US. He currently resides in San Francisco. He can be contacted at











[10] Ibid.






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