NewsSerbia's strict action against anti-war Russian refugees: A threat to national security or political play?

Serbia's strict action against anti-war Russian refugees: A threat to national security or political play?

Protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Belgrade, 2022.
Protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Belgrade, 2022.
Images source: © Getty Images | 2022 Anadolu Agency
5:02 AM EST, February 26, 2024

Serbia is taking strict action against Russians who oppose the war and the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin, as reported by the Associated Press. The American news agency has highlighted the story of Elena Koposova as an example. She is a Russian national who fled her homeland to Serbia with her family, and now she faces the risk of deportation. She reasons that her signature on an open letter against Russia's invasion of Ukraine is the cause.

Koposova, a 54-year-old woman, signed an open letter expressing opposition to Russian actions after war broke out in Ukraine. She is quoted by AP saying, "I am not an activist, but I signed the anti-war letter when Russian aggression against Ukraine started. Even if I am not an activist, I cannot simply ignore it. I added my name to the open letter stating that war is a crime and we all need to unite to stop it."

Koposova did not anticipate the ramifications of her actions. Serbia has been officially striving to join the European Union, implying that it should uphold all democratic values. Her case isn't an isolated incident, according to AP. Over the past few years, Belgrade has welcomed tens of thousands of Russians fleeing from Vladimir Putin's regime and opposing war.

Russian activists in favour of democracy claim that recently at least a dozen of them have faced entry bans or residence permit revocations. The alleged reason behind this, as per Koposova's case, is that they pose a threat to Serbia's security. AP further reports that at least eight other Russians are hesitant to publicly discuss their legal issues with local authorities.

Human rights advocates believe that the issues concerning Russians' stay in the Balkan country are due to the close ties between the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, and Putin. In spite of Serbia's official candidacy for the European Union, Vučić declined to join Western sanctions against Moscow.

"The authorities in Belgrade and the authorities in Moscow are politically very close," Predrag Petrovic, Research Coordinator at the Belgrade Center for Security Policy, told AP. The think tank has requested explanations from the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs for the actions taken against Russian immigrants. "People critical of Putin's regime pose a significant threat to the regime in Moscow. That's why these people are targeted by Serbian authorities," claimed Petrovic.

Source: Associated Press

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