Beyond Kosovo: How Protests Transformed Serbia’s Relations with Russia

Serbia’s authorities broke an old taboo when they blamed pro-Russian radicals for instigating some of the recent violence in the country, and Russia-Serbia relations may never be the same again.

In the past week, Serbia made global headlines as one of the first countries to find itself in political turmoil due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 7, thousands of Serbs took to the streets, protesting against the re-imposition of lockdown restrictions. The protests continued for several days with outbursts of violence in which dozens of people were injured, and even including an attempt to storm parliament.

The unrest took place just days before the long-awaited resumption of talks between Kosovo and Serbia, giving rise to suspicions that provocateurs might have infiltrated the protests.

Many observers accused Russia of stirring up more trouble in the Balkans: Moscow is seen as an opponent of the resolution of the Kosovo issue, which would likely ease the Euro-Atlantic integration of Russia’s long-time ally.

No evidence of Russia’s direct involvement in events in Serbia has been shown, but, regardless, the protests have already brought about changes to Russia-Serbia relations.

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