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1 Dec, 2011 13:48

Aid for Kosovan Serb minority but no Russian passports

Russian laws do not allow for the granting of citizenship to Kosovo Serbs, but Russia will find other ways to support the suppressed minority, the Foreign Ministry spokesman has said.

Official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Aleksandr Lukashevich said at a press briefing on Thursday that Russia received the message of the group of ethnic Serbs from Kosovo, who asked that they be granted Russian citizenship as they faced constant repressions at home. The diplomat said this request cannot be fulfilled, because the Russian law does not allow it.However, Lukashevich said that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered to boost the support to Kosovo Serbs in other forms. In particular, Russia will send humanitarian aid to the region and the first aircraft with such aid has already been sent. Russia will also make more effort within the UNESCO program aimed at restoration of destroyed Orthodox sites in Kosovo, the diplomat said.In early November 2011, around 21,000 Serbs from Kosovo, both residents of the regions and refugees, appealed to Russia’s lower house of parliament for help in obtaining Russian citizenship. The group named protection of their security as the main motive.The group had been founded by Zlatibor Djordjevic, a former attorney for the Democratic Party of Kosovo and Metohija. Djordjevic said that the international peacekeeping force could not provide enough protection for the ethnic Serbs. “Since the arrival of the peacekeeping forces, who are supposed to protect us, more than 1,000 Serbs have been killed. We are completely without rights, we risk elimination. Even in Serbia there are parties calling for recognition of Kosovo’s independence,” the activist said.A similar initiative was put forward by a group of Serbian leaders in 2010.Serbian officials have disapproved of the move. “It would be much wiser to take part in the coming parliamentary elections, and cast a ballot for those who would protect their interests better,” Serbian State Secretary for Kosovo and Metohija, Oliver Ivanovic has said.Some Russian MPs initially saw the Serbs’ move as positive and useful. Head of the Russian Communist party Gennady Zyuganov stated the request should be given the green light.However, experts from the parliamentary committee for constitutional law pointed out that the Lower House is the wrong body to address for citizenship.