Eduard Shishmakov, a member of the Russian GRU military intelligence service and one of the prime suspects in organising the failed terrorist attacks in Montenegro, left Serbia on 25 October 2016, just a day before Nikolai Patrushev, the head of all Russian intelligence services, came to an unannounced visit to Belgrade, Pobjeda newspaper learns from several diplomatic sources.
Shishmakov left Belgrade along with other suspect, Vladimir Popov, and a female person whose identity is not known so far, by regular Aeroflot’s flight, regardless of the fact that they were under surveillance of Serbian Security and Intelligence Agency (BIA) due to a number of evidence of involvement in the attempted terrorist attacks.
Shishmakov’s departure was the result of intense negotiations of Patrushev and Serbian authorities. Only after Shishmakov and Popov arrived in Moscow, Patrushev flew to Belgrade and make sure that three other agents of the Russian Federal Security Service(FSB) were released.
Belgrade-based daily newspapers Blic and Danas wrote about the true motives of Patrushev’s arrival to Belgrade only ten days after failed coup attempt in Montenegro. The news on expulsion was indirectly confirmed by Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic. He said that the media reports about expelled Russian spies who were responsible for preparing terrorist attacks “were not incorrect”.
One of the suspects Nemanja Ristic also confirmed the information on the expulsion of FSB members who claimed in several intercepts “that FSB agents will solve everything”.
Pobjeda also reported, quoting the British Bellingcat research network and the Russian Insider magazine, that Shishmakov attended the meetings of the Russian Security Council in 2014, when Patrushev was the council’s secretary.
According to Pobjeda’s information, Shishmakov attended the meeting at the invitation of Vladimir Putin or the very Patrushev. The topic of the meeting was the investigation of the plane crash in which Polish President Lech Kaczynski was killed.
Shishmakov’s name appeared in intelligence circles after a diplomatic scandal in Poland in 2014, when he was charged, along with several other persons, with recruiting high-ranking officers of the Polish army for the needs of Russia. Shishmakov was a deputy military attache at the Russian embassy in Warsaw then. He was declared persona non grata and expelled from Poland. In a tit for tat act, Russia expelled two Polish diplomats then.
Serbian BIA did not miss Shishmakov’s stay in Belgrade and his intensive contacts with extreme right-wing organisations Zavetnici, Ravnogorci and Vukovi. The agency wiretapped conversations between Shishmakov and Aleksandar Sasa Sindjelic, current cooperative witness of Special State Prosecutor’s Office (SDT).
The intercepts show that Shishmakov asked Sindjelic to find someone who can use sniper rifle efficiently to shot to then PM Milo Djukanovic. Since Sindjelic could not provide such a professional, Shishmakov asked him to perform the task himself.
In his testimony in SDT, Sindjelic said that a murder of cooperative witness Mirko Pajo Velimirovic was planned because the Russians suspected he had ratted out the plan. When Sindjelic surrendered, BIA seized a total of €125,000 from him. He allegedly received the money from Shishmakov.
Although BIA has numerous pieces of evidence against Shishmakov in the form of intercepted conversations, a part of them cannot be used, because in this concrete case Serbian security was not endangered.
According to Pobjeda, Serbia is under a strong pressure from the Russian foreign policy to remove or ignore evidence against Shishmakov. Although Russian officials denied the existence of Shishmakov, his identity has been officially confirmed on the website of the Russian Embassy in Poland.