MOSCOW Russia said on Thursday it was reviewing a request by Montenegro to help the Balkan nation investigate an alleged coup attempt, but dismissed allegations that Russian security agencies were involved in the episode as "a pure lie."
Montenegrin Special Prosecutor Milivoje Katnic said last month that Russian "state institutions" were involved in the alleged plot, which he said was aimed at bringing an opposition figure to power and halting the integration of the former Yugoslav republic into NATO.
Russian prosecutors said on Thursday they were reviewing a request by Montenegro to help it investigate the alleged coup, the TASS news agency reported, and Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news briefing allegations of Russian involvement were wide of the mark.
"The entire affair...changes its shape every month, new nuances appear... it doesn't follow any logic. It is a pure lie," said Zakharova, who said the allegations were designed to divert people's attention away from Montenegro's own political problems.
On Oct. 16, the same day Montenegrins voted in a parliamentary election, authorities arrested 20 people from neighboring Serbia on charges of planning attacks against the state.
Opposition parties, which narrowly lost the vote, accused the then Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and his allies of fabricating the plot to extend their grip on power over the small Adriatic republic, NATO's newest member.
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Andrew Osborn)