Dozens of extreme right-wing Serbs protested at the border point of Jarinje from the Serbian side with masks and flags, as KFOR increased troop numbers near the Jarinje due to the possible presence of criminal groups.
Dozens of extreme right-wing Serbs gathered on Sunday on the Serbian side of the Jarinje border in a protest called by the Serbian branch of the Russian paramilitary group, Wagner.
On one side, KFOR created a cordon with blinds and barbed wire in the area where the Police were stationed. Meanwhile, Serbian Police set up a cordon to stop the protesters from entering Kosovo.
Some protesters with masks and flags tried to break through the Police cordon.
The protest started at 13:00 and ended after two hours. This gathering was called “in support of the Kosovo Serbs”.
KFOR has increased its presence in Jarinje for preventive security reasons, due to the alleged possible presence of criminal groups among protesters, KFOR told BIRN.
“It is always fundamental for all the people taking part in the protest to avoid violence and to express their opinions peacefully, avoiding any disproportionate action, aggressive postures and behaviors that could be misunderstood and perceived as a provocation or an unnecessary violence,” a statement by KFOR said.
Serbian Police arrested one of the protesters who crossed their cordon. The protesters left Jarinje, after they received a guarantee from the Serbian Police that they would release the arrested person.
While the Serbian protesters were testing the police cordon, an explosion was heard. The protestors insulted NATO and held up the banner reading: “Earth is for the little ones and the Kingdom of the Little Ones and Heaven is always for the man of God”. Below it was written: “Mini Schengen- Great Albania”. They burned a banner with the inscription “Brussels Agreement”.
The Interior Minister of Kosovo, Xhelal Sveçla, called the gathering a high-level episode in the ongoing Serbian-Russian hybrid war against the Republic of Kosovo.
According to Sveçla, the same non-state actors, who are used by both Belgrade and Moscow, represented by Damnjan Knezhević (a collaborator with the notorious Russian paramilitary organization Wagner), were trying to break the border crossing point.
“Masked and barricaded gunmen on the streets, with the support of the Russian espionage center located in Niš, Serbia, are trying to undermine our sovereignty, inciting aggressive provocations in order to divert attention from the aggression in Ukraine, where as it is seen that Putin is losing the war,” wrote Sveçla on Facebook.
Kosovo PM Albin Kurti, in an interview for the German daily Der Spiegel, said that there was information that mercenaries from Wagner had arrived in Serbia. “[Serbian president] Vucic is aiming to return to the past, but this is impossible,” added Kurti.
The Wagner Private Military Company is a Russian group that employs mercenaries who are believed to have played an important role in battles fought by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and, from 2016, in Syria.
On November 26, 2021, the European Parliament placed sanctions on the Wagner Group and its affiliates, and the three would-be-EU-member Western Balkan countries soon joined them.
The Chief-of-Staff to the President of the Republic of Kosova, Blerim Vela, wrote on Twitter that these organizations must be outlawed and banned as they are tools of Belgrade and Moscow in the destabilization of Kosovo and the region.
“Right-wing extremists from Serbia linked to Vucic’s regime & affiliated with Russian organizations just tried to attack the Jarinje border crossing,” wrote Vela.
The NATO-led KFOR mission will soon conduct a regular military exercise near its base in Novosella.
According to KFOR, the exercise aims to train KFOR units to guarantee freedom of movement in a crisis response situation and “will consist of a series of tactical simulations and logistical activities using military convoys of engineers – heavy vehicles and helicopters”.
Six barricades erected on December 10 blocked the roads leading to the border points with Serbia, Jarinje and Bërnjak.
The barricades were put up came after the Kosovo Police arrested the former police official Dejan Pantic, on suspicion of having organized a “terrorist attack” on the offices of the Central Election Commission in the north of Kosovo.
19 December 2022 - 14:30
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