Boris Johnson claims Russia was behind plot to assassinate Prime Minister of Montenegro as he warns of Putin's 'dirty tricks'

Kate McCann
Boris Johnson - Copyright (c) 2017 Rex Features. No use without permission.

Boris Johnson has accused Russia of attempting to assassinate the leader of Montenegro as he warned the country is capable of hacking into political systems in the UK. 

Speaking to ITV's Robert Peston the Foreign Secretary said President Putin's Government has been up to "all sorts of dirty tricks" in recent months and added that he is "sad" that relations with the country have deteriorated. 

Asked about whether Russia is attempting to subvert democracy in the UK Mr Johnson said: "First of all, we have no evidence that the Russians are actually involved in trying to undermine our democratic processes at the moment.

"But what we do have is plenty of evidence that the Russians are capable of doing that. And there is no doubt that they’ve been up to all sorts of dirty tricks."

President Putin - Credit: Reuters

He added that the country has been involved in a number of serious foreign security breaches including: "bringing down French TV stations, undermining ...you’ve seen what happened in the United States where there’s no question at all that they were involved in the hacking of the Democratic National Convention."

He added: "You've seen what’s happened in Montenegro where there was an attempted coup in a European state and possibly even an attempted assassination of the leader of that state.

"Now there’s very little doubt that the Russians are behind these things."

Boris Johnson and Prince Harry - Credit: REX

Earlier this year the Telegraph reported that Russia plotted to assassinate the prime minister of Montenegro and overthrow its government last year, according to Whitehall sources.

An election day coup plot to attack Montenegro’s parliament and kill Milo Djukanovic, the pro-Western leader, was directed by Russian intelligence officers with the support and blessing of Moscow, to sabotage the country’s plan to join Nato.

A Nato military drill - Credit: EPA

The Foreign Secretary, who is due to visit Russia shortly to meet with his opposite number, said he feels a "deep, deep sadness" about the issues because ten years ago the UK and Russia enjoyed good relations. 

Mr Johnson said: "When I was becoming Mayor of London, we were going through quite a good phase in our relations with Russia, we had huge investment coming in, we used to have Russian festivals in Trafalgar Square, we celebrated the friendship and partnership between the UK and Russia, and great Russian exhibitions would come to London.

Profile | Vladimir Putin

"And it seems very sad… It’s sad, it’s sad that that friendship cannot continue."

The Conservative MP reiterated the Prime Minister's words of warning about working with Russia, telling ITV that ministers must now "engage" but "beware" about the nation's intentions across the western world.    

 

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