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Montenegro - 2018 Election - President

With 80 percent of ballots counted, the Center for Monitoring and Research said on 15 April 2018 that Djukanovic had won about 53 percent of the vote, ahead of his main opponent Mladen Bojanic with 34 percent. Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) declared him the winner on Sunday evening. Party leader Milos Nikolic said at the party's headquarters: "Djukanovic is the new president of Montenegro... there will be no second round."

The vote was seen as test for the long-time leader Djukanovic, who favors European integration over closer ties to Montenegro's traditional ally, Moscow. If confirmed, the result was an approbation for his move in 2017 year to defy Moscow and take Montenegro into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The former prime minister and his DPS had ruled the country for nearly 30 years. Current President Filip Vujanovic did not run due to term limits. The ballot was the first election in Montenegro since Djukanovic's party ignored calls from Russia and joined NATO in December 2017. Montenegro was also expected to be one of the favorites to join the European Union next.

Milo Djukanovic has held power and just about every high-level post in Montenegro over the past quarter century. For 21 years, the country was led by the same man, Milo Djukanovic. He resigned as prime minister in December 2010, after suggesting that Russia had interfered in the election results, and shortly after Montenegro was granted the status of official candidate to the EU. Montenegro's ruling DPS party wanted its leader, Milo Djukanovic, to be a candidate in the presidential elections in 2018.

In mid-December late 2017, Montenegro's largest opposition group, the Democratic Front, said it will return to parliament. This move would end the collective opposition boycott that began after elections in October 2016, which government opponents claimed were fraudulent. Almost half MPs, 39 out of 81, did not attend the sessions.

US Vice President Mike Pence launched a verbal assault on Russia amid his visit to Montenegro on 02 August 2017, accusing Moscow of actions that could prevent the tiny Balkanese nation from joining NATO. Pence accused Russia of trying to attack the Montenegrin parliament and attempting to assassinate the countrys prime minister to dissuade Podgorica from joining NATO.

"Russia continues to seek to redraw international borders by force, and here in the Western Balkans Russia has worked to destabilize the region, undermine your democracies and divide you from each other and from the rest of Europe. Russias intentions were laid bare over the past year when Moscow backed agents, sought to disrupt Montenegros elections, attack your parliament and even attempt to assassinate your prime minister to dissuade Montenegrin people from entering our NATO alliance," Pence said in an address at the Adriatic Charter Summit in Montenegro.

Vladimir Putin's government denied allegations that Russia was involved in alleged attempt to kill Milo Djukanovic, Montenegro's pro-Western prime minister. "We, obviously, categorically deny a possibility of official involvement into arranging any illegal actions," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said 07 November 2016. Montenegro's chief special prosecutor said that Russian nationalists were behind an alleged coup attempt. It was said to include plans to assassinate Djukanovic because of his government's bid to join NATO. The special prosecutor for organised crime and corruption, Milivoje Katnic, said that "a powerful organisation" comprising as many as 500 people from Russia, Serbia and Montenegro was behind the alleged plot.

On 10 November 2016 Montenegro's president named a former head of the secret police as the prime minister-designate who will try to form a new government. Dusko Markovic, 58, was also the deputy leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists and one of the most trusted allies of Milo Djukanovic, the leader of the DPS.

Montenegro's special prosecutor on 13 February 2017 received permission from a parliamentary council to strip immunity from two pro-Russian opposition leaders charged in an alleged sedition plot. Prosecutor Milivoje Katnic wanted immunity lifted from Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic as part of efforts to detain the pair and place them on trial for "acts against constitutional order and security of Montenegro." Katnic says both leaders of the pro-Kremlin Democratic Front (DF), which oppose the nation's bid to become the 29th NATO member, have undermined national security.

The decision to formally lift immunity was put to a full parliamentary vote 15 February 2017. Montenegro expected to wrap up the NATO membership process by May 2017. Once the Balkan stronghold of pro-Russian sentiments, tiny Montenegro on 05 June 2017 celebrated its entry into NATO in a historic turn that made the Kremlin furious.

Montenegro's higher court on 08 June 2017 confirmed prosecution indictments against 14 people, including two Russians charged with masterminding a coup attempt aimed at preventing Montenegro from joining NATO. Russian nationals Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov have been indicted with various criminal offenses, terrorism and acts against the constitutional order of Montenegro.

Russia is trying to destabilize the Western Balkans and undermine democratic efforts and progress of countries in the region by using misinformation, the president of the Atlantic Council Savo Kentera said 12 December 2017. As he added, it is to be expected that the country will continue to position itself as a geopolitical opponent to Western democracies.

Montenegrin opposition leaders, Milan Knezevic and Andrija Mandic, accused of staging a 2016 coup in the Balkan state, allegedly with Moscows assistance, handed over a letter to the Russian Embassy 29 Novemver 2017 addressed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In this letter obtained by Izvestia, the politicians asked for Moscows support and informed the Russian minister that the indictments at the trial include the name of Chechnya head, Ramzan Kadyrov. According to prosecutors, the Chechen leader allegedly conducted propaganda among the Montenegrin Muslim community in favor of cooperation with the Democratic Front opposition alliance to seek regime change in Montenegro.



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