ST.PETERSBURG, January 16. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia will open a human rights center in Kosovo as part of a public action to help the Serbian population in the region which unilaterally proclaimed its independence from Serbia in February 2008, Vitaly Milonov, a deputy of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, told journalists on Thursday. He added he was taking part in the project as a public figure rather than a government official.
Milonov explained that the idea to create the human rights center was an exclusively public initiative which is supported by many Russians but has got nothing to do with government bodies.
“We are going to help our brothers - Orthodox Serbs. They are the indigenous population of Kosovo who are being subject to real genocide,” Milonov emphasized. The Russian human rights center starts working on January 19 when its employees receive the first Kosovo Serbs to learn first-hand information about people’s needs.
The Russian human rights center will operate permanently as part of a law firm in Kosovska Mitrovica in the Serb-populated northern Kosovo. The firm’s lawyers will also take part in its work. St. Petersburg lawyer Andrei Ponomaryov will head the center and a team of Russian experts who will work on a rotation basis, Milonov went on to say.
The deputy added that Russian and Serbian agencies were finishing the center’s registration as a non-profit organization.
“We do not receive any financing from the state budget or government bodies or companies in which the state holds a stake. We are helped by legal bodies and logistics companies as well as our friends,” Milonov said, adding that he was going to pay for his trip to Kosovska Mitrovica to attend the center’s opening ceremony.
Apart from legal assistance and consultations, the Russian human rights center will supervise the construction of an Orthodox Church of St. Blessed Prince Alexander Nevsky. Its foundation stone was laid down last year. Russian human rights activists will also be involved in charitable actions to help the local Serbs. They sent a relief aid to Kosovo Serbs last year. This year, Russians will give Christmas gifts, food and medicine to Serbian children. Milonov said that a lot of things would be bought in Serbia in order to avoid customs formalities at the border.
“According to our information, our initiative has already ‘excited’ the Albanian authorities in Kosovo and Albanian activists. We are ready for provocations. We know how to move around in Kosovo,” Milonov went on to say.
Milonov said he would personally visit the Russian human rights center in Kosovska Mitrovica quarterly. He added there were plans to open similar centers in other “sore spots” in Europe, such as Northern Cyprus and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“We are engaged in preliminary talks now but we are facing great problems with financing,” Milonov said in conclusion.