Photos 'prove' Russia behind Montenegro assassination plot

Sky News has obtained covert surveillance photographs that appear to be further proof Russian intelligence was behind last year's attempt to assassinate a European Prime Minister.
The images were taken as part of an undercover operation in the days following the unsuccessful coup in Montenegro.
The photos, taken in neighbouring Serbia by an unnamed European security service, show two Russians accused of plotting the coup - Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov. Both men are said to be members of the GRU, Russian military intelligence.
Eduard Shishmakov, said to be members of the GRU, Russian military intelligence, and Alexander Sindjelic. Via Ali Bunkall
Image:Shishmakov is pictured meeting with Alexsandar Sindjelic.
In one, Shishmakov is pictured meeting with a Serb, Alexsandar Sindjelic. Sindjelic was subsequently arrested and he has reportedly confessed his involvement in the attempted coup and admitted working as an agent for the two Russians.
In another photo, Shishmakov and Popov are photographed together on a bench believed to be in a park in central Belgrade.
Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov. Both men are said to be members of the GRU, Russian military intelligence
Image:Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov, both said to be members of Russian military intelligence
The photos were taken around the time of the attempted coup.
The coup was planned for the evening of 16 October last year - the day of parliamentary elections.
The plan was to infiltrate a pro-Russian rally outside the Parliament building in the Montenegrin capital Podgorica.
Plotters, dressed as policemen, would break into Parliament and turn their fire on the protesters, thus making it look like the Montenegrin state security had shot its own people.
Separately, the pro-European Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic would be assassinated in the hope of a pro-Russian politician seizing power.
The plot was foiled with hours to spare.
Security sources claim these photographs are further evidence that the Russian state was directly linked with the attempted coup and show blatant aggression in a European country.
Sergei Lavrov described the allegations as "unsubstantiated"
Image:Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed the connection as "absurd"
Moscow has always denied any involvement - the foreign minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed the connection as "absurd".
Politically, Russia has long been opposed to Montenegro's ambitions to join NATO and the country was formally admitted into the military alliance in recent months. The Balkan country sits in Moscow's sphere of interest and large numbers of Russian tourists visit each summer.
Montenegro is politically split. Much of the population is in favour of closer ties with Europe but a sizeable and significant proportion would rather stay close to Moscow.
The coup attempt went largely unnoticed at the time - partly because of the US presidential elections - but has attracted increased interest across Europe as further details have come to light.
An old passport in the name of Eduard Shishmakov, later named as Eduard Shirokov
Image:An old passport in the name of Eduard Shishmakov, later named as Eduard Shirokov
He is described as an assistant military attaché to the Russian Embassy in Warsaw. Security sources say this is a commonly used alias for GRU officers.
Eduard Shirokov is alleged to be an alias of one of the  plotters
Image:Eduard Shirokov is alleged to be an alias of one of the plotters
Additionally, Polish intelligence provided a statement saying they expelled Shishmakov from Poland for espionage activities and declared him persona non grata.
The two Russians are believed to be back in Russia. They are therefore being tried 'in absentia' alongside 13 other defendants, including two Montenegrin opposition MPs and 10 Serbians. They have been charged with a range of offences.
Russian Vladimir Popov has also been named as one of the plotters
Image:Russian Vladimir Popov has also been named as one of the plotters
Earlier this year the Montenegrin Chief Special Prosecutor, Milivoje Katnic, told state television that they "now have evidence that nationalist structures from Russia are behind the coup attempt, but also that certain state bodies of Russia are involved, on a certain level".
The trial will be the largest in Montenegrin history and highly political. It is also believed to be the first time serving GRU officers have been charged with terrorism offences and criminal activity in a European country.
It briefly opened last month but was adjourned to give the defence more time. It is expected to resume next Monday.
The Montenegrin prosecutor is expected to produce evidence showing the Russians' phones were adapted with software to allow covert messaging. He will also allege financial transactions linking the Russians with Sindjelic.
Photos 'prove' Russia behind Montenegro assassination plot Photos 'prove' Russia behind Montenegro assassination plot Reviewed by Alexander Von Stern on 22:51:00 Rating: 5