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Fugitive Montenegrin Banker Says Corruption Cuts Both Ways

Montenegro has issued an international arrest warrant for a banker embroiled in a row with the country’s president and ruling party. 28 February 2019

Banker Dusko Knezevic fled Montenegro after coming under suspicion of money laundering and fraud, and is thought to be in London, The Associated Press reports citing local media.

 

Knezevic claims to have covertly funded the Democratic Party of Socialists, led by President Milo Djukanovic, the iron man of Balkan politics.

 

Dusko Knezevic. Image via Adriatic mne/Wikimedia Commons.

 

Thousands of protestors took to the streets on Saturday for the third weekend running to demand the resignations of Djukanovic and other top officials amid the latest corruption scandal to hit the ruling party.

 

The rallies began after footage came to light in January that appeared to show former Djukanovic ally Knezevic handing over $100,000 to the ruling party’s election campaign in 2016.

 

Another video, released later by Knezevic himself, showed a central bank official apparently demanding a bribe to keep inspectors from investigating one of Knezevic’s banks, according to Balkan Insight.

 

Knezevic claims he had been covertly funding the Democratic Party of Socialists for 25 years. The DPS has led every Montenegrin government since the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s and Djukanovic has held the post of president or prime minister for most of that time, essentially without challenge. Initially an ally of Serbia’s strongman leader Slobodan Milosevic, he oversaw Montenegro’s independence from Serbia in 2006 and its subsequent path toward NATO membership and a spot in the queue of European Union applicants.

 

 

  • In the view of Montenegrin authorities, Djukanovic’s pro-Western stance spurred Russian intelligence agents and a crew of Serbian helpers to plot his overthrow in 2016. The trial of more than a dozen suspected coup plotters is continuing in Podgorica.

 

  • Most opposition lawmakers have been boycotting parliament since the October 2016 elections, alleging poll violations, Balkan Insight reported yesterday. The largest opposition party, Democratic Front, returned to parliament last June but some smaller parties refuse to return. Several Democratic Front members are among the defendants in the coup trial.
Compiled by Eliza Siegel
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