A Russian group against Russia’s war in Ukraine that traveled to Serbia on Tuesday said Serbian authorities have refused to extend the residence permit of one of its activists, a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Russian Democratic Society said one of its founders, Vladimir Volokhonsky, had all the necessary documentation, but authorities cited a security risk as the reason for their decision.
The Washington Post said Serbian police have not commented on the matter.
A copy of a police document obtained by the Russian group said a security assessment of Volochonski’s case showed unspecified “obstacles” to extending his stay.
Earlier this month, Serbian police temporarily denied entry to another prominent Russian antiwar activist, Peter Nikitin, who was forced to spend more than a day at Belgrade airport before being allowed through.
Volokhonsky, an opposition politician from St. Petersburg, fled to Serbia after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, his organization said. His return to Russia would mean imprisonment, the group said.
Some 200,000 Russian citizens are believed to have fled to Serbia since the war began, as the Slavic nation does not require visas for Russians.
Russia maintains fraternal relations with Russia and has continued to do so even after Russian aggression in Ukraine. Serbia is the only country in Europe, along with Belarus, that has not imposed sanctions on Russia. Because Serbia has not aligned its foreign policy with that of the European Union, it has been repeatedly criticized, while in the EU there are concerns about Serbia’s relations with Russia.
The U.S. recently imposed sanctions on Serbia’s pro-Russian intelligence chief Aleksandar Vulin, accusing him of crimes and corruption. Serbian media reported that Vulin overheard a Russian opposition meeting in Belgrade in 2021.
The Serbian president has defended Vulin, saying the U.S. sanctioned him for his ties to Russia but not for corruption./The Geopost/