Serbian President on spy affair: I only asked Russian envoy "Why?"

NEWS 21.11.2019 22:28
Source: N1

Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters he only asked the Russian ambassador Alexander Botsan- Kharchenko "Why?" during their meeting earlier on Thursday amid a spy affair involving both Russian and Serbia's intelligence officers, N1 reported.

Speaking to reporters after the National Security Council session, he said that the video showing Georgy Kleban, former Russian member of Moscow's embassy in Belgrade handing a plastic bag to Serbia's retired army officer whom Vucic identified only as lieutenant colonel Z.K. was not filmed by Serbia's military secret service, but that it knew about the meeting and that the two had met several times.

“I'm confident, at least I think so, that (the Russian President Vladimir) Putin wasn't informed about this… I only asked Botsan-Kharchenko – why, nothing else. I haven't seen any logic in that. Serbia has done nothing to imperil the friendship with Russia,” Vucic said, adding Belgrade had no intention whatsoever to change its policy toward Moscow.

 “As a country, we face an offensive of different secret services for a long time. And we can divide them into two groups – one from the most developed countries and one from the regional states which have strong interests on Serbia's soil against our country,” Vucic said.

That's why Serbia, he added, significantly strengthened its counter-intelligence protection.

“Our VBA (military counter-intelligence agency) and BIA (civilian Security-Information agency) take more sophisticated measures protecting (the country) from foreign services’ offensive,” Vucic said.

The spy affair was the only issue on the meeting agenda, and Vucic said the video was made on December 24, 2018, and that VBA didn't make it, but was familiar with Kleban's activities.

The President said that Serbia's counter-intelligence services “documented Kleban's contacts with the Army of Serbia (VRS) in photo, video and audio recordings on several occasions.”

Vucic added that there were recordings of the meetings between other Russian intelligence officers with Serbia's army representatives, but that he wouldn't say that publically.

Kleban, according to Vucic, should have been the go-between in the exchange of documents related to events in Croatia during the war there in the 1990s, adding the Russian spy was not in Serbia any more.

“We won't change our policy toward Russia,” Vucic said, adding the relations between Belgrade and Moscow were brotherly and friendly, and that Serbia would not turn to NATO or any other military alliance.