Montenegrin citizen Ananije Nikić, accused in his home country of involvement in an attempted coup d'état in October 2016, has been granted political asylum in Russia, reported the Montenegrin news outlet Pobjeda with reference to the Montenegrin Ministry of Justice. The article also notes that Montenegro was notified of the decision by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO).
Nikić was placed on the wanted list following an unsuccessful attempted coup in Montenegro. The investigation believes he was involved in recruiting citizens, including foreigners, to work for Russian intelligence. In June 2017, the Montenegrin court ratified the charges against him.
The Russian PGO confirmed that it did not intend to extradite Nikić to Montenegro, the PGO’s press service told RIA Novosti. The department confirmed that it had considered the Montenegrin Justice Ministry’s request to extradite Nikić, but declined the request since he had been granted refugee status.
It is emphasized that the Russian PGO was guided by the provisions of the European Convention on Extradition of 1957. The Montenegrin Minister of Justice was informed of the decision as early as 9 October.
In autumn 2016, the Montenegrin PGO announced that an attempted coup and assassination attempt on then Prime Minister Milo Đukanović had been prevented. According to law enforcement authorities, in addition to Serbian nationalists, the group of conspirators contained two Russian intelligence agents – Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov. Moscow officially denied any involvement in the organizing of the coup.
The coup was planned for 16 October 2016, the voting day of parliamentary elections in Montenegro. On that day, the country’s authorities announced that they had arrested a group of conspirators who had allegedly planned a series of attacks and terrorist acts. The conspirators’ goal was to capture parliament and assassinate Prime Minister Milo Đukanović. It is also assumed that they would announce the victory of one of the opposition parties, which would seize power and change Montenegro’s foreign policy course – renouncing plans to join NATO and adopting a course to draw closer to Moscow.