Staunton, November 27 – Vladimir Putin’s decision to develop ties with radical right nationalist movements in various countries in the world and exploit them to promote Moscow’s interests is now a commonplace. But just how dangerous this can be is shown by the links between Russia and Serbia’s radical nationalists, Kseniya Kirillova says.
These links, she says, have profoundly negative consequences not only for Serbia’s domestic stability but also for the stability of the Balkans as a whole, because they give Moscow the opportunity once again to use others for its purposes who can then be disowned or sacrificed if that becomes necessary (lb.ua/world/2016/11/25/351724_serbskie_natsionalisti_sluzhbe.html).
Moscow has a long history of involvement with Serbian nationalists, one going back far beyond the conflicts of the 1990s. But the current upsurge in its role there began several years ago when Russians began actively and openly to support Serbian Radical leader Vojislav Šešelj on his return to Belgrade following 11 years in prison for crimes against humanity.
Working together, they helped revive the myth promoted by the late Slobodan Milosevich that Serbs are being subjected to genocide in Kosovo and that the only possible defense against that is the establishment of a greater Serbian state at the obvious expense of the existence of its neighbors.
Serbian political analyst Ventsislav Buyich says that “people connected with the Kremlin” have promised the Serbian radicals that “the Russians will soon come to this land, occupy all of Europe and bomb all the enemies of Serbia” and have brought many of them to Moscow to expand cooperation (ru.krymr.com/a/27967580.html).
According to Buyich, “approximately 20 percent” of Serbians are prepared to accept this point of view, while as many as “50 to 60 percent” are ready to accept “a softer version” of Russian propaganda about their situation and how Moscow will help the Serbs defend their rights and recover what they consider to be rightfully theirs.
The Serbian analyst recently met with Sergey Lush of the pro-Kremlin Molodaya Rus’ organization in Minsk at which time the latter “openly declared about his plans for the destabilization of Serbia” by the creation of “sleeper cells” in all cities of that country that could be activated at “x hour” (ru.krymr.com/a/28056102.html).
“Unfortunately,” Kirillova continues, “the Serbian authorities treat the pro-Kremlin nationalists extremely indulgently,” and many of them maintain pro-Russian positions despite the threat that the Kremlin-backed Serbian radical nationalists pose to the stability of their country and to them personally.
But these Serbian radical nationalists already pose a threat to other countries because they have been “actively participating in the foreign operations of the Kremlin, including terrorist acts, wars, and even the seizure of foreign territory,” the US-based Russian analyst and commentator says.
Alexander Sinjelich, the leader of the Serbian Wolves organization, has openly acknowledged on a video his group’s close ties with the Russian defense ministry and their participation in the Russian occupation of Crimea and further Russian aggression in Ukraine’s Donbass (ru.krymr.com/a/28127851.html and radiosvoboda.org/a/27141492.html).
The “biggest scandal” that has arisen as the product of Russian-backed Serbs in the failed coup attempt in Montenegro, Kirillova says; but no one should think, Buyich says, that “the aggressive plans of Moscow in the Balkans,” executed with the help of the Serbian radicals, are at an end because of that failure.
When Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin came to Serbia for a meeting with Šešelj and other Serbian radicals earlier this year, he told them that “the main priorities for the Kremlin now are Montenegro and Macedonia” and blocking any moves by them to integrate further with the West (ru.krymr.com/a/28092716.html).
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