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MOSCOW, June 22. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has lashed out at attempts to accuse the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center in Nis of spying, branding them utterly absurd.
"There were some absolutely inconceivable, absurd, far-fetched accusations in the worst traditions of the Cold War. They are talking about an alleged Russian spy nest in the Balkans, which can supposedly put the US contingent in Kosovo in jeopardy," she said on Thursday commenting on statements by some US officials.
According to the diplomat, the center was conceived from the very beginning and established as a joint humanitarian mission with Serbia aimed at working in the Balkans and in cooperation with all interested parties. "The center has been registered as an international organization. It took part in efforts to deal with the aftermath of emergency situations in Serbia, Greece, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina," Zakharova noted, adding that the center was visited by representatives of international organizations, including the UN and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
"The US ambassador in Belgrade has likewise been repeatedly sent invitations to visit that center in the city of Nis. However, neither he nor US embassy staff members have ever expressed any desire to take up the invitation. This is a ‘nice’ tactic used in many places, to prefer not to see something with their own eyes, because if they see that with their own eyes, it will be impossible for them to come up with some false stories," she said.
On June 15, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in a televised address to the nation that Serbia will decide on the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center on its own, and the United States’ opinion is of no interest to it. Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic earlier said that Western countries criticized Belgrade over the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center on its territory.
The Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center was established under an agreement between the Russian and Serbian governments on April 25, 2012, signed in Nis by Russian Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov and then Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic. The legal basis for establishing the center was an agreement between the two countries’ governments on cooperation in humanitarian emergency response, prevention of natural disasters and man-made accidents and disaster aftermath clean-ups signed on October 20, 2009.