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24 Feb, 2008 20:12

Russia accuses U.S. of double standards over Kosovo

Russia's Foreign Affairs Ministry says the United States should consider the motives of its own policy on Kosovo before it accuses others of exploiting events. This comes after the U.S.

On Saturday Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns accused Russia of pursuing an openly cynical policy regarding the disputed region.

Russia's Foreign Affairs Ministry gave their reaction to the accusation:

“In claiming that our policy regarding Kosovo is cynical, the American diplomat is not applying the same judgement to U.S. policy, which is exactly like this in the settlement. Isn’t it equally cynical to take the Kosovo-Albanian side and neglect the law in favour of ‘political expedience’ and to show indifference to the fate of 100 Serbs, who are actually being pushed into a ghetto in the 21st century.”

Meanwhile, Kosovo marks one week since declaring independence with protests. In the ethnically divided northern town of Mitrovica. Ethnic Serbs took to streets to protest at 12:44 am Kosovo time. The time commemorates the UN resolution on Kosovo – numbered 1244.

UN police in riot gear cordoned off a road leading up to the bridge to stop the rally from gaining access to it.

Protestors say they will gather every day until March 17 when they plan a massive rally. On that day four years ago violence broke out on the streets of Kosovo – the worst since the 1999 Kosovo war.

Organisers say they cannot guarantee it won’t happen again if KFOR troops keep preventing sympathisers from Belgrade crossing the border.

International support

Refusing to let Kosovo break away from Serbia without a fight, hundreds of protesters have rallied in several European capitals.

In Brussels, a demonstration was held outside the European Parliament. Anti-independence supporters arrived from all over Belgium and chanted 'Kosovo is Serbia.'

The police were on hand to prevent possible clashes between Serbs and Kosovo Albanians living in the country. However, their intervention was not needed.

Elsewhere, thousands of Serbs protested at UN institutions in Geneva and the OSCE headquarters in Vienna.

A demonstration was also held in Washington, where protesters walked past the White House denouncing the recongnition of Kosovo's independence by the United States.

Albanians celebrate

But in Kosovo's capital Pristina ethnic Albanians are celebrating their first week of independence.

Some supporters of independence have marked the event with an iconic graffiti-covered sculpture spelling out the word “NEWBORN.” 

Prime Minister Hashim Tachi visited the grave of Ibrahim Rugova, Kosovo’s late leader, revered among ethnic Albanians for his drive for statehood. Tachi used the occasion to call on the Serbian minority to integrate in what he described as the new reality of an independent Kosovo.