Why was Russia's top security official really in Belgrade?

A scandal without precedent in post-Soviet history has occurred in relations between Moscow and Belgrade.

Source: Beta
(EPA/Sergei Karpukhin, file)
(EPA/Sergei Karpukhin, file)

The Beta agency reported this on Friday, quoting an article published by the Moscow-based newspaper Kommersant.

This scandal is what Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev was in Begrade to "solve" earlier this week, according to the daily.

Kommersant quoted a report published in the Belgrade-based newspaper Danas, which said that several Russian citizens were deported from Serbia for participation in the preparation of terrorist acts in Podgorica (Montenegro), and that "nobody has officially denied" this claim.

The report in the Belgrade-based daily coincided with "the unexpected arrival of Patrushev to Belgrade." Kommersant said that "local expert" think the visit's goal was to "consider the Montenegrin case" and also to "attempt not to allow a scandal in Serbian-Russian relations."

Kommersant further writes that Patrushev was received at the highest level, that all his meetings went under "a closed regime" and that an announcement was made at the beginning of his visit that Serbian officials were offered to sign a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of security.

According to the paper, however, "many local politicians and experts" doubt that the the memorandum was the main goal of Patrushev's visit - "since the memorandum had been considered before and has no binding character."

The article stresses that Patrushev's arrived in Belgrade came a after Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said a plan had been uncovered to forcibly take over the state institutions of Montenegro with the help of the foreign factor, "and in this way confirmed the previous information that came from Special Prosecutor of Montenegro Milivoje Katnic."

Kommersant added that only a brief statement was issued after Patrushev's meeting with Vucic, "whose key phrase" was that security services of Russia and Serbia cooperate successfully.

The newspaper said, citing unnamed sources in Belgrade, that the main task of Patrushev was "to resolve the situation and not allow a scandal in the Russian-Serbian relations" - and that, judging by the statement, "the emissary from Moscow seems to have succeeded."

The article concluded that Belgrade is also "not interested in a scandal, but on the other hand, does not want to be suspected of having links with criminal actions in a neighboring country."

Earlier, Serbian Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said that Patrushev's visit was arranged several months ago and had nothing to do with "the spy scandal."


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