By Ria Novosti
Over 50,000 Kosovo Serbs have applied for Russian citizenship, Serbia’s B92 television reported citing Zlatibor Djordjevic, a spokesman for the Old Serbia movement.
The number of applications sent to the Russian Embassy in Belgrade has more than doubled since the beginning of November as more and more Kosovo Serbs become disillusioned in Belgrade’s ability to defend their ethnic minority.
“We are not satisfied with the progress in talks in Brussels [between Belgrade and Pristina], which, if they conclude with the same outcome as in the beginning, will mean the end of Kosovo Serbs,” Djordjevic said on Saturday.
“A dual citizenship [Serbian and Russian] would prevent the growing Islamisation of Kosovo Serbs,” he said.
Djordjevic said that Kosovo authorities applied pressure on elderly Serbs and Serbs living in poverty to swap their Serbian citizenship for the Kosovo one by promising them pensions and other social benefits.
He also stressed that most of Kosovo Serbs seeking Russian citizenship were not planning to relocate to Russia, but simply wanted political protection from Moscow.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Russia intended to defend the rights of Serbs wherever they live, taking into account all options derived from international and Russian law.
He did not say, though, how Moscow was planning to respond specifically to Kosovo Serbs’ applications for Russian citizenship.
Kosovo, a landlocked region with a population of mainly ethnic Albanians, declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008. Up to 10 percent of Kosovo two-million-people population are ethnic Serbs.
Both Serbia and Russia have refused to recognize Kosovo’s independence.