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September 7, 2017 No.
7081

Russia's Orbit – Pro-Kremlin Russian Philosopher Dugin: Serbs Must Ally With Russia To Salvage Sovereignty And Territorial Integrity

Pro-Kremlin Russian philosopher and leader of the International Eurasian Movement, Aleksander Dugin, gave an interview to the Serbian desk of the Russian media outlet News Front during his visit to Belgrade on June 28, 2017. In the interview, Dugin discussed the situation in the Balkans, Serbia as a "Eurasian outpost" in both the Balkans and in Europe, and the connection between events in the former Yugoslavia and current global processes. Dugin is certain that only an alliance with Russia can help Serbia retain its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Russian philosopher visited Serbia to announce the opening of the local branch of the International Eurasian Movement in Belgrade.

Below are excerpts from Dugin's interview with News Front:[1]


Dugin (second from right) at launch of Serbian branch of International Eurasian Movement (Geopolitica.ru)

Dugin: 'To Us, Serbia Represents The Western Vanguard Of Our Civilization;' 'The West… Needs… Somebody To Help It Get Back To Its Own Culture'

Q: "Aleksandr Gelyevich, why is it that the complicated, contradictory, multi-confessional Balkan Peninsula was chosen for the launch of a local branch of the International Eurasian Movement?"

Dugin: "Even though historically, Russians are at the core of the Eurasianism, it is a very open, polycentric model. The Vidovdan holiday[2] launch in Serbia is connected to very deep, organic ties that exist between Serbia and Russia. To us, Serbia represents the Western vanguard of our civilization. The civilization is Eurasian, and Serbia can be called a Eurasian nation. Even though it's a European state, it is an Orthodox Christian country, and is historically closely tied to Russia. It is connected to very distinctive identity – the Balkan identity, in a certain sense Turanian, because many peoples came here, to the Balkans, from Turan [literally 'the land of the Tur', a region in Central Asia] in ancient times.

"Nevertheless, Serbia is the Western-most vanguard of our Eurasianism. It is not accidental that Russian Eurasians were in Belgrade during the 'White Emigration' [from Russia after the Bolshevik victory in the civil war]. And Serbia was not accidentally chosen for it. This is our observation post on the Balkans. At the same time, it does not mean that the interests of other peoples and cultures shouldn't be taken into account in Balkan Eurasianism. Eurasianism tries to unite different identities, different cultural perspectives into a kind of polyloge, a multipolar system. Still, Serbia is the priority observation post for us. I would like to emphasize that this is a concept from Greek philosophy. In one of Plato's Dialogues, when he is on Mount Olympus, he says he is on an observation post from which he can look in all directions: south, north, east, or west. It is an observation post, a point from which one can clearly see Europe, Asia, the southern Mediterranean region and the north. Accordingly, all this is reflected in Serbian politics and culture. We may call Serbia a center, an observation post in the West. There are other observation posts: the Caucasus, of course, or Tibet in the east, Manchuria in the very Far East. But one such observation post for Eurasians is Serbia.

"We assume that it will be very organic and natural if Serbia became a center of attraction for other cultures. For Serbia is now looking for its place in the European context. And if it becomes a point of attraction not only with Republika Srpska[3] and Montenegro,[4] but also with Slovenia, Macedonia,[5] Greece, Croatia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and all the neighboring countries… With some, because of common Slavic roots, with others – because of Orthodox faith, with yet others – thanks to common history… There are intersections with all of them.

"Serbia may discover itself, like that magical state that [Serbian novelist] Milorad Pavić called Khazaria. After all, his Dictionary of the Khazars is not about Khazaria; in fact, it is about Serbian and Balkan identity, which combines different cultures, different religions. Many think that Pavić created a hypertext or an abstraction, a post-Modernist exotic corpus in this book. But in fact, he created a model. Dictionary of the Khazars and other works by Pavić are a model of what Serbia can become. So, we interpret it as Eurasian Serbia, or Serbia's Eurasian mission: becoming the center of a dialogue – a very complex, deep and carefully worded dialogue between different cultures of the Balkans. This Eurasian Serbia does not renounce its Serbian Orthodox identity; on the contrary, it strengthens it, but at the same time becomes more open, departs from the failed straightforward vulgar nationalism. Yet it does not dissolve in the liberal Western world, but becomes a crucial element in the Eurasian cultural polylog. Of course, I think that not all Serbs will be interested or fascinated by this idea. But it may attract the Serbian intelligentsia, the spiritual elite, the thinkers of 'Pavić's Serbia', which will be built upon multipolarity. Yugoslavia, which disintegrated, was actually an attempt, albeit primitive, but interesting, to create the Balkan 'Dictionary of the Khazars', when different cultures create a synthetic multipolar model from the mosaic of often incompatible and sometimes contradictory pieces. And I think that this 'Pavić's Serbia' is, in fact, the most exact approximation of the way we see Serbian Eurasianism. That is, not an isolationist, narrow nationalism, but a deep affirmation of Serbian identity, with its unique mystical dimension, its fiery love, [its] dramatic and bloody but at the same time beautiful Orthodox Christian history, the history of sacrifice and courage, wars, suffering, great victories, the creation of the Empire of Dušan the Mighty. All this is Serbian Eurasianism, and it is a very uncommon thing. It is not simply a pro-Russian orientation, or nationalism, or opposition to the West.

"In fact, the West itself now needs, even more than we think, for a new page to be opened, for somebody to help it get back to its own culture. Because the state of inertia that the West is in now, its Atlanticism, is ruinous both for it and for all the nations it has influence on. They want to cure us of ethnic conflicts in Russia or Serbia. But see how they treat refugees in France, the Czech Republic or Hungary, and how they treat refugees in Serbia. They do not provoke any protests or pogroms. And Serbs are the ones rebuked for nationalism. Russia has lived with Muslims and other peoples for centuries, and we have no acts of nationalism that are excessive. And people come to us to teach us tolerance, but they themselves come from societies with no tolerance, despite all the slogans that have the opposite result. That's why I think we need to band together and fight against this information attack that aims to belittle the Serbian and Russian people, and the peoples of the East, to show them as second-rate people. At the same time, when this pathological growth of the Western European and American elites is toppled by their own societies, we must lend a helping hand to Europe.

"And Serbia is a wonderful base to develop dialogue with European nations. This dialogue is the essence of Eurasianism; it is not the affair of the states, it is the affair of the peoples."

Dugin: 'We Do Not Consider [Kosovo] To Be A Separate State, No Such State Exists For Us;' 'If Serbia Joins The Eurasian Union, Then Serbia's Territorial Integrity Becomes A Direct Issue For [Russia]… A Nuclear Power With An Enormous Potential'

Q: "How do you evaluate the chances of Serbia joining various blocs and alliances with Russia? Maybe, the Eurasian Economic Union, CSTO, etc.?"

Dugin: "A very important issue will be solved in Serbia. Right now. Because Russia has become strong enough, it has passed the sovereignty test. After the incorporation of Crimea, liberation of part of Donbass, our steadfast and unchanging policy in Syria, which is yielding fruit, Russia's authority and sovereignty have grown. It is quite different from Russia in the 1990s, when we were so weak we could not come to the aid of the Serbs [who were fighting NATO]. We were dealing with our internal problems. That's why it so happened with Kosovo, and the collapse of Yugoslavia, and by inertia it is now happening with Montenegro. But I think that the situation is completely different now. Now Serbia is passing its last sovereignty test. It is clear that the majority of the Serbian political elite is not ready for it, while the people are ready. But the people don't know how to get organized, because they lack the political and media tools. In fact, the Serbs are now under liberal occupation.

"But I think that the multi-vector pragmatic position that the Serbian leadership now occupies has to take into account the Russian factor. Because it is the support, even if only nominal, provided to President [Aleksandar] Vučić by President Putin, that determined his legitimacy inside the country to a great degree.[6] If Putin had supported the opposition candidate, it does not mean that he would have been elected automatically, but Vučić's position would have been much weaker. Vučić's orientation is ambivalent. And we can understand it. Direct confrontation with the West is impossible for Serbia now. The Serbs fought heroically, but could not defend themselves, and it was impossible because of the disparity in forces. Serbs can't be reproached for renouncing their own honor. They may have lost the battle, but they did save their honor. And now a very interesting thing will happen.


Meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić. (Source: Kremlin.ru, March 27, 2017)

"Joining the EU and becoming closer with the West requires acknowledging Kosovo's independence. This is absolutely illegitimate from the point of view of the Serbian people. But this is the requirement that the West will set as the primary condition for integration. Russia, strange as it may seem, by offering EEU, CSTO, or other alliances, acknowledges Serbia's territorial integrity, which includes Kosovo. That's why for us 'Косово је Србија' [Kosovo is Serbia], it is not just a wish; it is our political stance. We can fly in to Kosovo if we obtain Serbia's agreement. We do not consider it to be a separate state, no such state exists for us. An alliance with Russia, political or military, does not at all exclude relationship with the West or any economic partnership: EEU members Kazakhstan and Armenia have excellent relations with the West and are not adversely affected in this issue. But if Serbia joins the Eurasian Union, then Serbia's territorial integrity becomes a most immediate issue for the Russian Federation. And Albanian authorities in Kosovo will find it much harder to reach an agreement with Russia, because we are a nuclear power, and Serbia is our ally.[7] Naturally, the question of how, on what conditions, and if at all, to give up Kosovo or not, as well as the guarantee of lives and well-being of Serbs in Kosovo – all this becomes the affair of Moscow, a nuclear power with an enormous potential.

"So, how will Mr. Vučić choose between one and the other? Europe offers some economic aid, some social projects, gay parades and other liberal achievements.[8] In fact, these are Serbia's internal affairs. If you like it – fine; we are not thrilled, but this is your business. But if Europe promises something to Serbia, look at Romania, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia; they are thinking about leaving Europe, because it satisfies some of their requirements but destroys other aspects, introducing its own standards in agriculture or industry. And so, Europe is not a panacea for anyone.

"But let's assume that Europe offers some economic support. The people will not see it; there will only be debts, as in Greece, there will be corruption of the people and society. But you will also have to pay for it by recognizing Kosovo. That is, in order to receive a questionable service, you must sell your soul – that's what always happens with the Devil.

"And what does Russia offer? Russia may not be in a position to assume any responsibility for Serbia's economic well-being. We have gas and oil, and if the Serbs are integrated into our system, we will build a maximally favorable model in energy sources and other aspects. The Russian economy is not that weak if we can calmly withstand sanctions. But we cannot take responsibility for Serbia's economic stability; by the way, the EU cannot either. But the EU creates an impression that economic issues will be solved. Whereas we are saying that we can solve, we can help, but economically, Serbia has to cope for itself.

"But what can we solve? We can solve the issue of Serbia's territorial integrity. Consider this: peoples in the post-Soviet territories and around try to turn to the West to maintain their territorial integrity (Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, beyond that – Turkey), and in fact, they lose it. Where are Georgia and Ukraine? Turkey is jeopardized by Kurdish separatism. And those who want to preserve their territorial integrity, like Assad… "Here's what he does: 'Vladimir Vladimirovich, I'm joining an alliance with you'. And Vladimir Vladimirovich says: 'We're flying to you'. And in Syria as a whole, a breakthrough is beginning. It's a fact. America does not ensure the territorial integrity of its allies. It's a law, which has nothing to do with Serbia personally. But let Mr. Vučić weigh this law, let him check what the case is, what will happen to his government if it's headed by this progressive lady [Ana Brnabić, Serbia's first openly gay prime minister, who took office on June 29], if Kosovo is recognized. I think this is what the Americans are counting on – that a new wave of civil disobedience and protests will start and that Serbia will disintegrate. There is still something to disintegrate. That's why, I think, they are making him into a scapegoat and forcing him to do things that sooner or later will bring about his demise. The same as they did with Assad. And when he realized that it did not work, he turned to Russia. They are doing the same to Erdogan. When Erdogan understands that nobody but Russia will ensure his sovereignty, he turns to Russia. Vučić as a pragmatist will choose between saving Serbia or himself (after all, he is from the Radical Party, and Serbian nationalism is not inherently alien to him). At some moment, he will be faced with the choice of how to go down in history: as a pathetic traitor who betrayed the interests of his country and will be cursed for centuries – and it is important to a Serb! – or to join the Eurasian Union. Of course, it is a radical step, but it is the salvation of the country, of Vučić himself, and of the Serbian political model. And Russia is now in such a situation that this choice is not as risky as it would have been before.

"When Serbs acted more decisively, we were in a mess, we had Yeltsin, democracy. And when we became a bit stronger, the Serbs were already tired, they had expended all their energy. It is sad, this dissonance of our political life. But if we look at the political picture calmly and objectively, I am sure that the possibility of choice in favor of the Eurasian Union and CSTO is a very good thing. And with the level of Russophilia that exists, Vučić will have legitimation from the people. We'll see whether he can make up his mind. But when the fateful day comes, he will have to make the decision – here or there: whether to follow [pro-European former Prime Minister] Milo Djukanović[9] and finally break away from the Orthodox Russian world, or to preserve Serbia as a sovereign state and try to restore its territorial integrity. After all, we will take the whole of Serbia into the Eurasian Union, and Kosovo will be part of the Eurasian Union. It's like we're fighting for Serbia's territorial integrity. Do we give up when we are told 'get out'? No. Pressure – we don't give a damn about it.

"Now we are even being blamed for electing the American president. Of course, it's not true, it's fake news, but it's an indicator: it means we are strong. As a strong partner, Russia can be on Serbian Kosovo's side. We are not going to infringe upon the ethnic identity of Albanians who live in Kosovo, by no means. We understand them very well. We will not insist on any form of genocide, ethnic cleansing, or establishment of one religion over another. But Serbs who live in Kosovo need not worry, because they will be citizens of the unified Serbian state. Otherwise, Serbia will not only lose Kosovo, but itself – its person, its Serbian identity for the sake of which Serbs, during Vidovdan and throughout their entire history rose up in rebellions, and perished and died for their great homeland. And now, this Serbia's sole salvation is immediate incorporation into the Eurasian Union.

"That's why we organized a launch of the Eurasian movement in Belgrade during Vidovdan. It is a signal, a proclamation, a declaration of a pressing geopolitical problem. So that the Serbian government and the people were aware of what is going on. This is the last choice, the last chance.

"I am certain that Serbia is an eternal country; it will rise again, sooner or later. But it is easy to destroy one's positions, and we see blood being spilt in the Donbass region. It's easy to destroy a unified state, and we have to suffer terrible torments in order to restore some parts of it. It is easy to say: that's it, we recognize Kosovo. But taking it then will be very hard. Genocide of all the Serbs there will begin, as it happened in Croatia. Ethnic cleansings after the victory of the Albanian war party are more than possible. We declared reunification with Crimea in order to prevent ethnic cleansings in Crimea. Similarly, we are ready to do some serious stuff in order to prevent ethnic cleansings in Kosovo. We are a serious country. We do not want to conquer, subjugate Serbia. We don't need anything from Serbia. With our geopolitical ethics, we only want liberation, on principle. We want order, law and ensuring the right to live for peoples who are the intended targets of genocide."

Dugin: 'The Serbian War Is The Syrian War, And The Syrian War Is The Ukrainian War… So It's Not A Fight Between The Russians And The Ukrainians, It's A Fight Between Unipolarity And Multipolarity'

Q: "You supported the Serbs in the 1990s, when there were hostilities here. We see the continuation of that: the election in Kosovo that you mentioned, where the winners are the leaders of the former Kosovo Liberation Army. Now there are other armed conflicts: Ukraine, Syria. Do you see any parallels, or, maybe, a continuation of events in Yugoslavia in the situations we are observing today?"

Dugin: "Yes, of course. It is the great war of the continents. The fight between Atlanticism and Eurasianism, civilizations of the land and of the sea, has finally crystallized into the fight for the unipolar world against the multipolar one. For that reason, all the wars you have mentioned – in former Yugoslavia, and later in Ukraine and Syria, and what's happening in Kosovo now – they are different fronts of the same war. It is the war of the unipolar world, which is embodied in NATO, the West and the globalist elite.

"Of course, Trump was supported in the U.S. precisely because he criticized the unipolar globalist world. It is also very important; it is a sign that the American people are not synonymous with the plans of the globalist elites. That we have allies on the other side of the border. Just like the West has its fifth column in the form of liberals and globalists in Serbia, Russia or anywhere else, so do we have our supporters even in America. For Trump was not elected because of what he is or what he is doing now, but because of the words he enunciated then. And they were, if you will, Eurasian. He spoke about pluralism in international politics, criticized globalization, interventionism and American imperialism, interference into various processes. He spoke about returning to the America before Wilson, the one that was defended by isolationist Republicans. Trump's main idea is that America must focus on itself. We want nothing else.

"And if there is any support for that, there is a chance that the pressure of the unipolar world on Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East will abate. So far, we have not seen a confirmation of that, but Trump's electoral declarations had this meaning. The same war is going on, the war of the continents, that is, a war on the continental level. One of its major fronts is in the Balkans. And here, Serbia is fighting on the side of the land, on the side of the Eurasian civilization, on the side of the continental forces. It has fought and is fighting on all phases of the struggle; for it fights not only for itself, but also for us, for our principles. And it stands against the unipolar world. The Serbian war is the Syrian war, and the Syrian war is the Ukrainian war. We have nothing against Ukrainians, but they have made a choice in favor of the unipolar world, the dark lord. So it's not a fight between the Russians and the Ukrainians, it's a fight between unipolarity and multipolarity.

"The Serbs could have done many things when they were still at war. Serbs are great warriors. But I think that Serbs often lack intellectuality. Sometimes one can win with one's mind and save the lives of Serbs, if you apply will, courage, Serbian love of freedom, determination to defend their identity, wisely. A hero is different, he gives his life for his homeland… But I think that the Serbs are now in such a position that they need, first and foremost, to think. One of the most important fronts of the great war of the continents passes through Belgrade, through Mitrovica, where the issue of the country's disintegration of the country is being resolved, because there is the Albanian factor on the other side. It does not mean that Albanians are inherently bad. A people cannot be bad. But they are becoming a tool, a manipulation, and they are not just defending their own freedom. They will pay for it, like the Ukrainians, they will lose everything if they continue with this Atlanticist policy. But they are just being used. And then they will be liquidated and demonized, they will be subjected to bombings, it is already clear. Croatian leaders of the national struggle against the Serbs are in prisons. Their Nazism was downplayed, and when the disintegration was complete, they were used, and now they are in prisons. Now Croatia is a country with zero sovereignty. And where is their national pride­– in jail! One must understand that this is not the fight of the Serbs against the Albanians, or Croatians, or Bosnians. It is a totally different war now – the great war of the continents, and each one must make his choice. Albanians, Croatians, and Bosnians. I'm not even mentioning Serbs, it's our trench… Even though after the pressure from the West, the history of Serbia's defeats is so strong that they're suggesting now that it should wave the white flag, capitulate, and go over to the other camp. Politically, it is possible, from the people's point of view – impossible. Now, Serbia is facing its last choice. This is the phase of bifurcation, after which the events will follow either one scenario, or the other. A huge responsibility currently rests on the Serbian political leadership's struggles. It's no longer about some game or personal enrichment; it's about the fate of the people. I think, even the most idealistic liberals must turn to their ideals and say: these people have the right to their own decision, and these – to their own, and these – to their own."

Appendix I - Rogozin Proposed In Jest Building Dummy Wooden S-300 Anti-Aircraft Systems In Serbia

On June 5, 2017, Montenegro became the 29th member of NATO. On June 25, during a visit to Serbia to attend Aleksandar Vucic's presidential inauguration in Belgrade, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin commented: "I believe, that Montenegro for Serbia is like Ukraine for Russia. In fact, this was created [i.e. Montenegro's accession to NATO] not against Russia, but against Serbia as a counter weight: this counter weight consists of brothers and sisters. We know full well who the Montenegrins are – everything is mixed there. This proves that it's possible to 'plant' something into your brother in order to turn him into someone more alien than a stranger."[10]

Rogozin commented also on Serbia's bid to join the EU that he believes is destined to fail. Rogozin said: "First of all, how could they accept you to where others are fleeing from. They have a scandal over there. The Brits are leaving, while they're convincing you to go to the EU. They don't like it, but they want you to like it. That's not done. Something's wrong there. As they say, 'God gave you what I don't want for myself'." Rogozin then added:

"When it comes to conditions for Serbia's accession to the EU, you will have to renounce Kosovo. You will never do that. Not the most pro-Western Serb will ever betray their fatherland. One can discuss the economy, the exchange rate, taxes, but that (Kosovo) is a question of treason. And without renouncing Kosovo, the Serbs will not be admitted to the EU."[11]

Rogozin then added: "Serbia will join the EU just like Turkey did. Or … they would break you into pieces, and then accept you part by part. The moment they grant you a membership, they will lose any interest in you. They say that there is this game played between the EU and Russia – which one can appeal to Serbia more. But, in fact, there's no game. There is no result, because Russia and Serbia will always be together." Rogozin noted that Serbia could have good relations with the EU without becoming a member.

Commenting on when Russian MiG fighter jets would be transferred to Serbia, Rogozin said: "The president [Vladimir Putin] will inform you of this. I would love to tell you, but we have agreed that he will be the one to tell you. It's not just about MiGs, it's a lot of stuff – tanks, transport planes… It is a serious and big assistance… The Serbs will get everything, including the S-400 missile system, if that is required."[12]

Commenting of Rogozin's words, Montenegrin defense minister Predrag Boskovic said that Russia's deputy prime minister was sending a message "more to Serbia, than to Montenegro." Boskovic then said that he can "neither justify nor understand" Rogozin's statement, adding that Montenegro's membership in NATO was "in Russia's best interest, if Russia's interest is peace and stability in the Balkans." Boskovic also explained that it is also "in Serbia's interest to be a part of NATO" - adding that "the path toward the EU is significantly facilitated by previous NATO membership."[13]

During his visit to Serbia, Rogozin also stated that Serbia does not really need Russian S-300 missile systems -- to scare the West, wooden ones will suffice. Rogozin remarked that the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center opened in 2012 in the Serbian city of Nis in order to respond to emergencies, for some reason got the Western countries scared. "That is why I say that Serbs don't need the real S-300. Even if we build wooden ones, they [the West] will be scared to death," Rogozin joked.

Rogozin added that the Russian-Serbian project was meant to base such a center closer to Southern Europe, taking into account the experience and technological capabilities, such as aviation and all kinds of firefighting equipment, "to obviate the need for transferring resources from Moscow in case of emergency, but to use local ones in Serbia", and also to ensure the demining and reconstruction of territories that were previously contaminated with mines and other ordnance. Speaking about the prospects of the center's work in Nis, Rogozin said that some "finishing touches" were needed.[14]

Rogozin kisses hand of first lady Tamara Vucic
Rogozin kissing the hand of Tamara Vucic, wife of Serbian President Aleksander Vucic. (Source: B92.net, June 26, 2017)

Appendix II - Lavrov's Visit To Serbia In 2016

On December 12-13, 2016, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Serbia, amid claims that Moscow may be involved in the failed coup in neighboring Montenegro. During his visit to Belgrade, Lavrov participated to a ceremony for Soviet soldiers who died during the liberation of Belgrade in WWII, at the Grave Of Liberators cemetery. On that occasion, Lavrov posed for group photos. Nemanja Ristic, wanted in Montenegro for taking part in the failed coup and featured in an Interpol notice based on a warrant for his arrest issued by Podgorica, appears in one of the photos.

(Source: Echo.msk.ru)


Ristic at a march in Belgrade to protest against a cooperation agreement that Serbia signed with NATO in February 2016, which guarantees diplomatic immunity and freedom of movement through Serbia for NATO troops. (Facebook, March 5, 2016)

Commenting on the visit, Russian newspaper Kommersant said that one of Lavrov's main goals was to demand from Serbia to provide diplomatic immunity status for the Russian personnel of Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center, located in the town of Nis. The newspaper stressed that NATO soldiers – unlike Russian ones – do enjoy diplomatic immunity in Serbia. According to Kommersant, Belgrade is trying to postpone the decision, fearing the EU reaction. The newspaper explained that the EU is strongly opposed to the possibility of granting diplomatic immunity to Russian personnel in Nis, since this would mean that the joint Humanitarian Center would be transformed into a fully operational Russian military base.[15]

 

 

 

[1] The interview was conducted by Oksana Sazonova, head of News Front – Serbia. News-front.info, June 4, 2017. Sazonova, incidentally, is currently in the news herself, as she and her video operator were detained in Kosovo while filming Orthodox churches and doing a series on relations between Serbs and Albanians. Their equipment was confiscated and the two were taken to the Kosovo capital of Pristina and are likely to face deportation. News Front backs Serbia's claim to Kosovo.and Russia's non-recognition of Kosovo as an independent state. Sputniknews.com, September 4, 2017.

[2] Vivovdan is celebrated in Serbia on June 28 and it marks St. Vitus Day. The Serbian media outlet B92.net explained: "'Are you aware that today is Vidovdan?' - this was the sentence allegedly uttered by former Yugoslav and Serbian president Slobodan Milošević upon being informed that he would be extradited to the Hague Tribunal, on June 28, 2001.

"On that day in 1398, the medieval Serbian Kingdom squared off against the invading Ottoman Turks, to lose the Battle of Kosovo and see the dismantling of the state. In 1914, the Sarajevo assassination became a prelude to the First World War. The Treaty of Versailles that ended it also happened on June 28, five years later.

"The first Constitution of the Yugoslav Kingdom was brought on Vidovdan in 1921, as was a resolution of the Cominform decades later, that excluded the post-WW2 Yugoslavia from the family of communist nations…

"For Serbs, historian Čedomir Antić argues, Vidovdan represents the basic symbolism of choosing between what's useful and what's just, and it draws from the so-called Kosovo Myth that has become ingrained in the nation's identity…" See full article.

[3] The Serb autonomous region in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

[4] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6997, Russia-NATO Update – Deputy PM Rogozin: Montenegro's Accession To NATO Is Directed Against Serbia, Not Russia, July 7, 2017.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6443, Russian Reactions To Negotiations On Montenegro's NATO Membership, May 20, 2016.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6693, Russia's Orbit - Part II - The Attempted Coup In Montenegro, November 24, 2016.

[5] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6706, Russia This Week – Part I - December 8 - 12, 2016, section "Elections In Macedonia", December 12, 2016.

[6] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6550, Russia This Week - July 25- August 1, 2016, section "Pro-Russia Vs Pro-Western Politicians In Serbia," July 31, 2016.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6917, Russia This Week – April 27-May 11, 2017, section "Serbian PM Delivers A Message To Moscow In Russian For Victory Day," May 11, 2017.

[7] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6896, Russia This Week – April 25-27, 2017, section "Russia Reacts To Albanian PM's Statement On Greater Albania," April 27, 2017.

[8] Serbia’s negotiations with Brussels for its EU accession are viewed as a major setback for Russian policy. Back in 2016, during a joint press conference with Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic, Russian FM Lavrov stressed that Russia and Serbia have close ties in the sphere of military cooperation, noting the EU is instead a dictatorial entity.

Lavrov said: “We are willing to constructively consider any requests that our Serbian friends may formulate in order to ensure the reliable defense capability of their country and, of course, in the context of the general balance of forces in the region. In this context, I’d like to note that we have thoroughly discussed the relations of our respective countries with NATO and the EU. We are interested in Europe not thinking in terms of the bloc, but returning to the values that were proclaimed in the political terms within the OSCE, in particular, the need to ensure the indivisibility of security in Europe, so that no country ever tries to ensure its security at the expense of others. So far, we haven’t seen any sign of willingness to comply with these political commitments on the part of NATO or its individual members."

Lavrov then added:

"I get the impression that the European Commission takes its cue from the worst examples of alliance preached by the Soviet Union, when it tried to regulate everything and everyone using the discipline of the rod, when any deviation from the course meant a bullet. The principle of solidarity, which is treated as an absolute in the EU, is aimed precisely to achieve the discipline of the rod. I do not think I will reveal a big secret by saying that we are aware of the fact that the EU has written instructions on how each country, including membership candidate countries, must speak in public whenever Russia is mentioned. It says that all these countries absolutely must repeat as mantras phrases such as 'the annexation of Crimea,' 'the occupation of Donbass,' and so on. If you read or listen to what the EU members have to say, it very much looks like this instruction must be acted upon no matter what. At the same time, however, there’s no blind obedience any longer. There are quite a few EU countries which are aware of the absurdity of the current situation, when the European Union, like the Soviet Union before it, puts ideological postulates ahead of the economic or core interests of their members." (Mid.ru, December 12, 2016; See full statement)

[9] It is worth noting that on October 16, 2016, Montenegro held its parliamentary elections, in which the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) scored another victory, albeit a slim one, winning 36 seats outs of 81. On the day of the elections, the former commander of the Serbian Gendarmerie, Bratislav Dikic, was arrested and accused of plotting a coup, that would involve killing civilians and murdering Montenegrin PM Milo Djukanovic, as well as temporarily shutting-down the WhatsApp and Viber messaging apps. On November 28, Dusko Markovic was nominated as the new Prime Minister of Montenegro. Markovic said that his government will try to complete the country's accession to NATO and "overcome misunderstandings in relations with its historical ally Russia." Sputniknews.com, December 1, 2016.

[10] Ria.ru, June 25, 2017.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6997, Russia-NATO Update – Deputy PM Rogozin: Montenegro's Accession To NATO Is Directed Against Serbia, Not Russia, July 7, 2017.

[11] B92.net, June 26, 2017.

[12] Serbianmonitor.com, June 26, 2017.

[13] B92.net, July 3, 2017.

[14] Ria.ru, June 25, 2017.

[15] Kommersant.ru, December 12, 2016.