Kosovo detains Russian journalist
Russian journalist and veteran war reporter Darya Aslamova was briefly detained and banned from entering Kosovo on Saturday amid the recent flare-up of tensions between Serbia and the breakaway region.
Kosovo Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla wrote on Facebook that Aslamova, who writes for newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, was detained at a border checkpoint in the northern part of the region.
“Many countries have proven that she had engaged in espionage for the Russian military intelligence and acted under the guise of a journalist,” Svecla wrote, accusing Aslamova of “propagandizing about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.” The minister added that Aslamova was banned from entering Kosovo and the authorities were holding the journalist until her “intentions are determined.”
Svecla posted several photos of Aslamova, including some with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Komsomolskaya Pravda said on Sunday morning that Aslamova had been released and arrived in Raska, a Serbian city on the border with Kosovo. “I arrived at the border by 4am. Serbian border guards have interrogated me as well. They were inquiring why I don’t have a deportation stamp,” the journalist said.
According to the paper, Aslamova was on an assignment to report about the recent tensions between Kosovo and Serbia when she was detained, while stating that the espionage accusations were “baseless.”
Aslamova has covered armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Chechnya, and Nagorno-Karabakh, among other places.
A NATO-led peacekeeping force was dispatched to Kosovo in 1999 following an Albanian insurgency in the region and the bloc’s 78-day bombing campaign in what was then Yugoslavia.
The province declared independence in 2008. While the US and most European countries have recognized it, Serbia, Russia, China, and the UN in general have not.
Tensions in the region flared-up after the Kosovo authorities unveiled a plan to require Serbs living in the north to use Kosovo car license plates instead of Serbian plates.
President Aleksandar Vucic called the plan an attack on Kosovo’s Serbian population and accused Pristina of violating the rights of local Serbs. Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti accused the Serbs of attacking the police and claimed Kosovo is facing “Serbian national-chauvinism.”
The ensuing protests prompted the Kosovo government last week, after consultations with the US and EU, to postpone the implementation of the license plate rule until September. In exchange, Pristina demanded that Serbs dismantle the roadblocks they set up during the protests.
Reuters reported on Monday that peacekeepers stationed in the region oversaw the removal of roadblocks.