Media publish the pictures by European intelligence agencies, allegedly showing two officers of Russia’s GRU military spy service visiting the Balkans and overseeing the man they hired to orchestrate the bloody overthrow of Montenegro’s government. The covert surveillance photographs said to offer key proof Russian intelligence officers plotted a violent coup that would have ended in the assassination of a European leader, The Telegraph reported.
Surveillance pictures show Shishmakov and Popov together in a park and also Shishmakov talking to Sindjelic.
Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov are to stand trial next month with 13 others for orchestrating the plot in an election day plot to attack Montenegro’s parliament and kill Milo Djukanovic, the pro-Western leader.
The photographs are believed to have been taken in a Belgrade park around the time of the foiled coup and are a key part of evidence prosecutors say links the plot to Russian “state bodies”.
The Kremlin has strongly denied any involvement and two pro-Russian opposition leaders among the defendants claim the plot is fake and confected to discredit them.
However British and US officials believe the conspiracy had high-level backing from Russia and was one of the most audacious examples of the Kremlin’s attempts to undermine European democracies.
The plot was only foiled when a conspirator turned himself in days before Serb nationalists disguised as police were to fire on election day protesters outside Parliament, kill Mr Djukanovic and plunge the country into turmoil.
The Russian pair are alleged to have appointed Aleksandar Sindjelic, a veteran anti-Western activist who had in the past boasted to associates of his ties with the Russian defence ministry.
After the plot was wound up, Sindjelic turned prosecution witness and his testimony will be a key part of the trial.