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MOSCOW, November 15 (Itar-Tass) Some 20,000 Kosovo Serbs appealed to the State Duma to grant Russian citizenship to them, The Kommersant writes. Serbs hope that Russian passports will ensure their safety. Experts warn that if the Russian authorities support the initiative of the Kosovo Serbs, this is sure to provoke a conflict between Russia and NATO. Aside from it, Moscow may spoil its relations with Serbia, which it regards as its strategic ally in the Balkan Peninsula.
Oleg Buldakov, counsellor of the Russian embassy in Belgrade, told journalists on Monday that “several thousand Kosovo Serbs forwarded a written message to the State Duma, asking to grant Russian citizenship to them.” He explained that those included both the Serbs, who now live in Kosovo, and those who left Kosovo, a former Serb territory, and are now staying in Serbia as refugees. According to Buldakov, the Serbs say that “fear for their personal safety” was the main reason for their strange request.
The appeal to the Duma was drafted by several associations of Kosovo Serbs and was signed by 21,000 Serbs, The Kommersant writes.
The idea to give a legal framework to the “special relations” of Serbs and the Russian Federation is not new, the newspaper reminds. Late in the 90s Slobodan Milosevic, then leader of Yugoslavia, came up with the initiative on Yugoslaiva’s joining of the Russia-Belarus Union. That time the initiative of Milosevic was met without enthusiasm by Moscow, and was gradually forgotten. Now we are witnessing another attempt to initiate “the integration of the fraternal Slavonic nations.”
If the Duma and later the Russian government support the initiative of the Serbs, this will mean that from now on Moscow will be responsible for the safety of its new citizens. Clashes between Kosovo Serbs and the peacekeeping troops will have to be regarded by Russia as the oppression of its nationals and the encroachment on their rights.
In this connection experts mention the example of South Ossetia. When the war with Georgia started in 2008, most of its residents had Russian passports. The Kremlin reported that time that one of the reasons for the beginning of the operation against Georgia was the murder of Russian nationals by Georgian soldiers. The problem is that in the case of Kosovo Russia will face not Mikhail Saakashvili, but NATO, The Kommersant warns.