BELGRADE – Montenegro’s prime minister suggested that Russia was involved in an alleged coup attempt on the country’s election day and he accused the opposition of collaborating with the Kremlin.

Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said on October 25 that there was “a strong connection of a foreign factor” in the October 16 vote, which was marked by the arrest of 20 people suspected of planning armed attacks against Djukanovic and his supporters after parliamentary election results were announced, RFE/RL reports.

Russia has strongly opposed Djukanovic’s bid to join NATO and the European Union while opposition leaders made frequent visits to Moscow ahead of the vote.

The Montenegro prosecutor’s office has alleged the detained group planned to attack people in front of Parliament after the vote results were proclaimed, then storm the building and arrest Djukanovic.

Opposition parties cried foul, however, charging that Djukanovic — whose pro-Western party won the election but did not secure a parliamentary majority — staged the alleged coup attempt to try to extend his quarter century of dominance over Montenegrin politics.

But within hours of implicating Russia in the plot, Djukanovic announced he was stepping down and would not continue as prime minister. His Democratic Party of Socialists announced it would nominate his deputy Dusko Markovic to replace him.

Among those arrested in the coup plot was a former commander of Serbia’s special police forces.

Djukanovic said authorities would investigate the extent of the involvement in the alleged coup attempt both by Russia and Serbia. Montenegro split from Serbia after an independence vote in 2006.

“There should be no panic… We will find out the facts,” Djukanovic told reporters.