THE people of Montenegro are expected to elect pro-Nato former prime minister Milo Djukanovic during presidential elections.

Sunday’s vote was the first since the small Balkan state defied Russia and joined the Western military alliance in December.

It is seen as a test for Djukanovic, who favours EU membership over closer ties to Moscow.

He is the country’s dominant politician, and his Democratic Party of Socialists have ruled Montenegro for nearly 30 years.

Djukanovic’s main challenger is Mladen Bojanic, who is backed by several opposition and

pro-Russian groups.

Draginja Vuksanovic, meanwhile, is the first female presidential candidate in the staunchly conservative society’s history.

Polls suggest Djukanovic, 56, could win more than half of the votes to seal a first round win and avoid a run-off.

Upon voting yesterday, Bojanic described Djukanovic as an “autocrat leading Montenegro into a dictatorship”.

He said: “The majority in Montenegro want a free and democratic Montenegro.”

Djukanovic was prime minister during tense October 2016 elections, when authorities said they thwarted an attempted pro-Russian coup designed to prevent the country from joining Nato.