PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) — The Latest on Montenegro’s parliamentary election (all times local):
Montenegrin police say a former Serbian special police chief is among the 20 people arrested amid the Balkan country’s crucial parliamentary vote.
A police official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because she wasn’t authorized to speak about the ongoing investigation, said Sunday that former police Gen. Bratislav Dikic led the group that is suspected of planning armed attacks in Podgorica, the capital, after the polls close Sunday.
The 46-year-old Dikic fell out of favor as the commander of Serbia’s gendarmerie units in 2013 because of his alleged criminal activities.
He was identified by Montenegro’s prosecutors by the initials B.D. and as the leader of the “terrorist” group.
–By Predrag Milic in Podgorica.
Montenegro’s interior minister has warned people to stay indoors instead of celebrating in the streets after parliamentary election results are announced.
The appeal Sunday came after authorities announced they have arrested 20 Serbian citizens who planned attacks on the country’s parliament and its officials after the vote.
Goran Danilovic said “I appeal to all political parties who are taking part in the election, whoever has a reason to celebrate, to stay at home with their families.”
Danilovic, who is a member of an opposition party, says he wasn’t formally informed of the arrests.
There have been fears that violence could erupt on the streets of Podgorica, the capital, between opposition and government supporters after the results of Sunday’s vote are announced.
Prosecutors in Montenegro say the group arrested for allegedly planning armed attacks after a parliamentary election was also planning the capture of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.
The Special State Prosecutor said in a statement Sunday that the group “formed a criminal organization” earlier this month with an aim to “influence the legal and executive authorities in Montenegro.”
The statement says the group is suspected of planning an armed attack on citizens who would gather outside the Montenegrin assembly building and the police after Sunday’s vote, before taking control of the parliament and declaring the victory of “certain political parties.”
The prosecutor adds that “suspicion exists that the plan of the criminal organization also was to detain the prime minister of Montenegro.”
Serbia’s prime minister says that authorities have no information about 20 people from Serbia suspected of planning armed attacks after the parliamentary vote in Montenegro.
Aleksandar Vucic said Sunday that he has been informed about the arrests in Montenegro by Serbia’s interior minister. Vucic says “the day this is happening is strange, and that is all I will say.”
Vucic says he will issue further comment on Monday, once the election in Montenegro is over.
Montenegrin police director Slavko Stojanovic said earlier that the group arrested Saturday night came from neighboring Serbia and planned to “pick up automatic weapons” to attack state institutions, police and possibly state officials after the vote.
There have been fears of violence between opposition and government supporters after the results of the vote in Montenegro.
Montenegrin police say they have arrested 20 people suspected of planning armed attacks after the parliamentary vote.
The country is seeing rising tensions amid Sunday’s vote, which could determine whether the small Balkan state continues on its Western course or turns back to traditional ally Russia.
Police Director Slavko Stojanovic says in a statement that those arrested Saturday night came from neighboring Serbia and planned to “pick up automatic weapons” to attack state institutions, police and possibly state officials after the vote.
He says they were charged of “forming a criminal organization and terrorism.” He said one Serbian is on the run. No other details were released.
There have been fears that violence could erupt on the streets of Podgorica, the capital, between opposition and government supporters after the results of the vote are announced.
Montenegro’s prime minister says he expects to win the parliamentary election and then hold talks on a new coalition government.
Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic says, after voting Sunday, that “my expectation is that, after this election, Montenegro will steadily and dynamically move toward its European and Euro-Atlantic goals.”
The vote pits his long-ruling Democratic Party of Socialists against a cluster of pro-Russian and pro-Serbian opposition groups that staunchly oppose the government’s pro-Western policies, especially its NATO bid.
Before the vote, Djukanovic said the ballot for the 81-seat parliament will decide whether Montenegro continues on a Western course or becomes “a Russian colony.” He is facing the toughest challenge yet to his quarter-century rule.
Montenegrins are voting in a parliamentary election that could determine whether the small Balkan state continues on its Western course or turns back to traditional ally Russia.
The vote pitted the long-ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, led by Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, against a cluster of pro-Russian and pro-Serbian opposition groups that staunchly oppose the government’s pro-Western policies, especially its NATO bid.
The outcome could jeopardize NATO and European Union enlargement in southeastern Europe and could prove decisive in the Kremlin’s attempts to regain influence in the strategic Balkans region.
The scenic country of 650,000 people, squeezed between the Adriatic Sea and towering mountains, is deeply divided among those who favor and those who oppose Western integration.
Pre-election polls have predicted the closest race since Montenegro gained independence from much larger Serbia a decade ago.