More and more pro Putin tracks on path of anti Government protests that spread throughout Serbia

Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS) from Belgrade is warning the public, and most of all the organizers and those who politically support the anti-government  protests that spread throughout Serbia  under the slogan #1in5million and pretext of fight against violence and for better electoral conditions, of  a very recent visit to Moscow  by the Armed Forces  of Serbia Union (Vojni sindikat Srbije-VSS) that recently formally joined protests.   VSS is still  headed by Novica Antic, who recently was stripped of his rank, due to flagrant breach of Serbian laws related to political activities of  active servicemen.

At the complex moment of negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina which we hope would end as soon as possible by a compromise between the U.S., EU and the two sides and to which Russia will have no objections if it really is Serbia’s friend, the delegation of the “first representative” Armed Forces  of Serbia Union, whose leadership is against the compromise about Kosovo, went for a three-day visit to Russia. 

The delegation was received at the highest level by the Russian Federation state Duma  officials and several military and veteran organizations: Officers of Russia, Union of Russian Paratroopers and the public military and veteran organization “Boevoe Bratstvo” (Military Brotherhood) gathering military and veteran associations from over 30 countries of the Eurasian Union and around the world. Apart from the host of the visit, Slava Kalinin, editor-in-chief of Veteran News magazine and the president of the association “Boevoe Bratstvo” who promotes people like Konstantin Malofeev, whose subversive actions in Eastern European countries have been exposed long ago by western officials, the delegation had working meetings with, among others:

Lieutenant general Vladimir Shamanov, president of the Duma’s Defense Committee and a prominent member of United Russia party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the parliamentary party LDPR and president of the Officers of Russia organization, and Artyom Kozhin, Deputy Director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Novica Antic, who just like his  partner  Slava Kalinin considers Serbs and Russians to be one and the same, said during his visit that “the Russian state and the Russian Orthodox Church firmly hold that Kosovo and Metohija are an inalienable part of Serbia which is very important in the current geopolitical moment”.

Since Antic, who still heads the Armed Forces  of Serbia Union, and the Union  recently supported the anti - government protests and announced the participation of his Union in it, CEAS considers that it is important for the representatives of the protests and   those who support them logistically or consider political cooperation with them like Alliance for Serbia (Savez za Srbiju SZS) opposition coalition led by former mayor of Belgrade Dragan Djilas  first and foremost ,  to clearly state their position on this circumstance which is certainly not doing any favors to Serbia’s European perspective, nor to the peace and stability of the Western Balkans region. 

CEAS considers that Serbia’s European perspective, without which the rule of law cannot be established nor can the situation in the media and generally in the society improve, is not being helped by the activities of the Alliance for Serbia consultant for relations with Russia and Eurasia Madjan Djordjevic, who is also an associate of the wife of Russia’s Prime Minister Medvedev in his long lasting alleged humanitarian work related to Serbia and Russia via association “Our Serbia” ( Nasa Srbija).  Djordjevic  is also a staunch opponent of a compromise with Pristina under the auspices of the political West which would keep  Serbia on its track to the European Union.

As the president of “Our Serbia” organization, Djordjevic has said, back in December 2016 at the occasion of signing of the agreement of cooperation with the Pan-Russian organization called “Assembly of the Russian People”, that the “EU is constraining Serbia by impossible conditions such as recognizing the false state of Kosovo, while EU and NATO countries are jointly pressuring our country to introduce sanctions to Russia. Since we find all of this unacceptable, Russia, with support of many eastern countries whose representatives were present here today, is Serbia’s only support in its attempt to preserve its territorial, but more importantly, spiritual integrity.”

CEAS would like to remind again of very similar political stances publically expressed  by Novica Antic who recently stated warned  “the Army of Serbia Union does not support any political party or faction, but must not and will not support gross violations of the Constitution and of the rule of law (alluding to a possible compromise agreement with Pristina under the auspices of the EU). This we have sworn to do as soldiers. Serbia is no one’s private property. We have pledged to this country, its flag and its Constitution. And not to politicians.”

Above described new circumstances are   become increasingly worrisome if one holds in mind that protesters sent a few weeks ago an open letter to Aleksandar Vucic President of Serbia in which they also condemned in advance any compromise with Pristine alluding to it as a treason. CEAS also find it relevant that the Serbian EU integration was not mentioned once in the letter.

Antic said himself that the Army of Serbia Union is a “national, patriotic and state-preserving organization. We do not shy away from getting involved in politics…..”

We would like to remind Western diplomats, commentators, media representatives, as well as representatives of allegedly pro-EU civil society organizations in Serbia that the freedom of expression is guaranteed by the article 10 of the Convention of Human Rights and that it has been duly translated into domestic legislation. This right includes the freedom of thought and the freedom of receiving and giving information and ideas without interference of the authorities and regardless of borders. Since the use of these freedoms entails certain duties and responsibilities, it can be subject to formalities, conditioning, limitations and sanctions as provided by the law and as needed in a democratic society in order to protect the national security, territorial integrity or public security, to prevent unrest or crime, to protect health and morality, to protect the reputation or the rights of others, prevent disclosure of classified information or to maintain authority and the impartiality of the judiciary.

In their statements and now acts, Antic and the Armed forces  of Serbia Union ( VSS) increasingly often show that they do not respect the basic principles of the democratic control over the armed forces which as provided by the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Serbia.  Furthermore they do so in an extremely complex period both politically and security-wise related to the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina, when Serbia’s leadership and its citizens need to demonstrate a high level of understanding of all the implications of certain moves and decisions. Unfortunately, at the moment when foreign factors, both state and non-state, intend to provoke incidents with security implications which may jeopardize Belgrade’s intentions to reach a peaceful multidimensional agreement with Pristina that would reconcile the difficult historical burden and the legitimate and feasible interests of the Republic of Serbia in 2019, in complex geopolitical circumstances where a democratically controlled security system is of crucial importance, the Armed Forces  of Serbia Union, that support allegedly anti-violence current protests in Serbia,  has been de facto threatening the citizens of Serbia and the state with an armed rebellion.

Bearing in mind the resemblance of Novica Antic’s and VSS political positions on the one, and the positions of Mladjan Djordjevic’s, a close associate of Dragan Djilas and its Alliance for  Serbia function for  Russia affairs on the other hand, starting with stark opposition to  the compromise with Pristina, and bearing in mind their similar connections in Russia and their similar non-secular attitudes  towards the role of the church in the society, their similar general hostile stands on the West and now further similarity in supporting the anti-government protests in Serbia, CEAS considers that the time is ripe to ask the question of who is exactly behind these protests and what their motives are. Are the  anti-government  protests allegedly   against violence being used as a guise for threatening Serbia with an illegal rebellion that can have massive security implications, when it is increasingly evident that all this is being done in cooperation with the collaborators and friends from Russia, country  that is allegedly friendly inclined towards Serbia?

In Belgrade, January 25, 2019