In Georgia, they are called Georgian Dream, and they have been in power since 2012. They were founded by former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, who made a fortune in Russia during the 1990s. In Moldova they are called Shor, and they are the opposition. They were founded by a young politician and businessman, Ilan Shor, who fled the country in 2019, when pro-European president Maia Sandu came to power.
These groups became active around the same time, and for a moment destabilized their countries situated on Europe’s periphery with weak democracies.
The pro-Russian majority in the Georgian parliament hastily adopted a law labelling any organization or media agency financed from abroad by as little as 20 percent as a “foreign agent.” The law was copied from the Russian model. The majority in Georgia adopted it as if there were no larger issues in the country than a few media agencies and few NGOs.
Shor supporters protested on the streets of Moldova, allegedly because of the high prices of gas and food, but in fact they were asking for the country to abandon Europe and return to the Russian embrace.
Both were actually calling for fraternal, Russian military aid to prevent chaos and stabilize the situation in their countries.
By some miracle, they also became active in Serbia around the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine – in a way similar to Georgia and Moldova. With parliamentary questions about the fictitious sale of Serbian weapons to Ukraine, street protests in the middle of Belgrade, and with daily media headlines and pseudo-analyses on national television, celebrating the victorious Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Serbia is in the middle of a strong Russian operation to destabilize the country, just like Georgia and Moldova. Admittedly, fraternal military aid from Moscow has not yet been called for, but the way things are going, we won’t have to wait long for that call.
Kosovo raises passions in Serbia; there are negotiations with Pristina, which are clearly entering their final stage, and an agreement is in sight. Needless to say, the main target is Aleksandar Vučić, because he has been leading that process, and because he wants to bring it to an end, so that we are not left with the “inheritance” from his predecessors who passed it around like a hot potato.
Choose any position of his opponents – that he is a traitor, that he sold Kosovo, that he violates the Constitution, whatever you want – and you will become, whether you like it or not, part of a subversive campaign directly supported by Russia. Russia supports it with its influence, money and desire to shake Serbia, to cause political upheavals and, in the most desirable case, complete destabilization, riots and ultimately a coup. Similar to Georgia and Moldova.
The recent fabrication that Serbia was selling weapons to Ukraine was a textbook example of a small but devastating disinformation campaign that is expected to have an important political effect. Everything started with the MP’s question to the Minister of Defence about whether Serbia exports weapons to Ukraine. The whole matter was later “worked out” by a Russian portal and the spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova, who made the point by publicly asking Serbia for an explanation.
Fortunately, the fabrication was quickly shut down by the ministers of defense and foreign affairs, and finally by Vučić himself, with rather harsh words. They recognized well what it was about and quickly protected their country from a dirty attack from abroad.
But at the same time, street outpourings of dissatisfaction due to the Kosovo compromise have been coordinated by patriotic organizations. The pressure needs to be constant, from Serbia and abroad. The topics are different, although Kosovo carries the bulk of the action.
The Kremlin knows very well that the Kosovo compromise will mark the end of its influence on Serbia and most of the Balkans. If there are still a few months, or perhaps a year, left before the conclusion of an agreement between Serbs and Kosovo Albanians, then it is a sign that something needs to be done to prevent it, because new opportunities will not arise.
That is why the mobilization of resources has been in full swing, starting from corrupt politicians, political extremists, media and influential public figures. Impetus may come from some important information – more often disinformation – “from headquarters,” such as the recent advertisement for recruitment into the Wagner group on the Serbian branch of the Russian state media outlet Russia Today. Or the “research” of the Russian portal Mash under the title: The Armed Forces of Ukraine use missiles from Serbia for attacks on Russia.
All those mobilized have the same task, which is to destabilize their own country for the benefit of a foreign power: Russia and its interests. Not Russian interests in Serbia, which is a particular paradox, but its interests in Ukraine, which is the only thing Russia cares about.
Serbia is a democratic country and a political discussion on an important issue such as Kosovo is appropriate for such a democracy. But this is not about that. This is about the a malign foreign power’s attempts at subversion – spreading the fire it started in Ukraine wherever it can, including in Serbia. Likewise in Georgia and Moldova. Those attempts will continue and will be increasingly aggressive. Unfortunately, some of our fellow citizens will participate in them.
Serbia needs a quick and high-quality agreement regarding Kosovo. At the same time, Serbia needs to clearly put relations with Russia into the right place, for example by joining the European sanctions. It’s move that will make Moscow furious, but it’s the only one they’ll understand. It is also the only answer that truly protects the interests of Serbia, and not the interests of someone else. Russia deserves to receive such a response from Serbia.