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Montenegro’s pro-Russian opposition leader arrested


(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 04, 2008 Nebojsa Medojevic, leader and presidential candidate of the opposition Movement for Changes, gestures during the final pre-election rally in capital Podgorica. – One of the leaders of Montenegro’s pro-Russian opposition Nebojsa Medojevic was arrested on November 30, 2018 overnight for “refusing to testify” in a corruption case, a police statement said. Intially pro-Western, Medojevic’s Movement for Changes party is part of the pro-Russian Democratic Front coalition and took part in 2015 protests against the country’s membership in NATO. Medojevic is suspected of “refusing to testify” after he went on Facebook to accuse Montenegro’s special prosecutor Milivoje Katnic of receiving a 100,000-euro (USD 113,800) bribe for enabling a member of the ruling DPS party to avoid going to prison. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)

One of the leaders of Montenegro’s pro-Russian opposition was arrested Friday for refusing to testify in a corruption case, officials said.

An arrest warrant was issued for another opposition leader who also refused to testify in a separate case.

The parties of the two men, Nebojsa Medojevic and Milan Knezevic, are part of the pro-Russian Democratic Front coalition which opposes the country’s membership of NATO.

Medojevic, 52, was arrested for “refusing to testify” officially about allegations he made against Montenegro’s special prosecutor Milivoje Katnic, a police statement said.

Earlier this year Medojevic has accused Katnic in a Facebook message of receiving a 100,000-euro ($113,800) bribe.

He claimed the prosecutor was bribed to enable a member of the ruling DPS party to avoid going to prison.

Medojevic can be detained for up to two months.

A warrant was also issued on Friday for Knezevic, who has alleged that a judge asked him for 10,000 euros in bribes in another case.

But Knezevic refused to identify the judge and testify on his allegations to the High Court in Podgorica, a tribunal statement said.

Knezevic and another opposition leader, Andrija Mandic, are currently on trial for allegedly taking part in a plot to overthrow the Balkan country’s government in 2016.

They say the accusations against them are politically motivated.

A verdict in their case is expected in early 2019.

After Medojevic’s arrest, Democratic Front deputies stayed in the parliament part of the night protesting the move.

“This is something that never happened in Montenegro, that an MP is put in prison for words (he) said,” Mandic said.

He said Medojevic was “kidnapped and taken to prison.”

The European Commission said in a report in April that corruption in Montenegro’s judiciary was “widespread and remains an issue of concern.”

It urged Podgorica to “strengthen the independence …. of the judicial system.”

Montenegro joined NATO in 2017 and is a candidate for membership of the European Union. It aspires to join the bloc in 2025.

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