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Serbian president says won’t cancel visit to Russia amidst alleged spy row

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said the current spy row in Serbia is yet another provocation ahead of the contact between the two nations’ leaders

BERLIN, November 22. /TASS/. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says his country wants good and trust-based relations with Russia and is not going to cancel his visit to Russia amidst the alleged spy scandal.

"No, we don’t think about it," he said in an interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel.

"We want good and trust-based relations [with Russia]," he stressed.

Serbia is "an independent state and it will be able to defend its military neutrality," he said. "We are taking the current situation responsibly and seriously."

"We have been friendly nations for a long time," Vucic emphasized. "Serbia is ready for good relations and we hope Russia is ready for that as well."

He reiterated that the "strategic goal" of his country was movement towards the European Union but Belgrade also wanted to have good relations with Russia and China.

Serbia "has clear and transparent relations with Russia," he noted. "The Russians don’t give us anything for free but they give us a good price."

About the spy scandal

Christo Grozev, a Bulgarian investigative reporter, earlier posted a video on YouTube featuring two people chatting with each other and exchanging plastic bags in a parking lot. He accompanied the recording with his comments, claiming that it showed an unnamed Serbian officer and a Russian intelligence officer who was allegedly trying to recruit the Serbian national.

Meanwhile, Relja Zeljski, chief of analytics at Serbia's Security Intelligence Agency confirmed the authenticity of the video saying that it has been determined that a Russian intelligence officer is seen in the video.

According to the Vecernje Novosti newspaper, the person featured in the video is a self-employed individual. It also reported that the video could have been recorded by employees of one of Romania’s intelligence services acting under the auspices of Washington. The newspaper cited a comment by a source in the Serbian intelligence services, who described the situation as "the West’s attempt to undermine Russian-Serbian relations."

Vucic said on Thursday the country’s Security Intelligence Agency had known about the activities of the Russian agent but the YouTube video had not been shot by its officers. "As for relations with Russia, we have excellent relations. I believe President [of Russia Vladimir] Putin was not informed about such things. We will never forget Russia’s support in international affairs and in arming the armed forces. I has only one question to the Russian friends. Serbia is the only country that refused to impose the anti-Russian sanctions. It has never voted against Russia and has never threatened relations between Russia and Serbia. I simply asked ‘why?’, I see no logic in it," Vucic said.

Meanwhile, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said he was convinced the incident would not impact relations between Moscow and Belgrade. He said that relations between the two countries were so special, so partner, brotherly and allied that nothing could spoil them.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said the current spy row in Serbia is yet another provocation ahead of the contact between the two nations’ leaders. She noted that the Russian foreign ministry came across such incidents with amazing regularity.