Montenegro’s special prosecutor’s office has rejected an opposition complaint against President Milo Djukanovic, saying there are no grounds for him to be prosecuted for corruption over the so-called “envelope” affair.
Twenty-one opposition MPs had filed a lawsuit against Djukanovic and Chief Prosecutor Milivoje Katnic in January on suspicion of money laundering and forming an organised criminal group. The special prosecution has also rejected the allegations against Katnic.
The allegations against Djukanovic arose from a video clip posted on social media showing Dusko Knezevic, one of Montenegro’s richest businessmen and a representative of Djukanovic’s ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) handing the former mayor of Podgorica, Slavoljub Stijepovic, an envelope with 100,000 euros before the parliamentary elections in 2016. The donation was not mentioned in the party’s financial report.
Knezevic, who claims to have been secretly funding the DPS for 25 years, is thought to be living in exile in the UK after fleeing Montenegro where he had been charged with malfeasance in connection with the business practices at a bank that he owns.
According to Balkan Insight, Knezevic said he had more evidence to prove the wrongdoings of Djukanovic and other DPS officials, including a video of the president taking bribes. However, his failure to publish that video to date has raised doubts in Montenegro as to whether it really exists.
Djukanovic, who has been in power in the small Balkan country for nearly three decades and has long been accused of corruption and connections to organised crime, has denied the allegations.
The “envelope” affair gave rise to demonstrations by the opposition and civil society groups against the government with protesters demanding Djukanovic step down and fresh elections take place.