A project dubbed “Revealing Russian disinformation networks and active measures fuelling secessionism and border revisionism in Central and Eastern Europe” has managed to draw the dominating narratives of Serbian media, which mainly portray Russia as their main ally.
The Project authored by Nikola Burazer, Programme Director of the Centre for Contemporary Politics based in Serbia, shows that there is an almost universal appraisal of Russia’s role regarding the issue of Kosovo, and practically an absence of any major critical undertones about the Russian foreign policy or Russian interests in the region, reported Gazeta express on Wednesday.
One of the dominant narratives include the historical alliance and deeply rooted historical ties between Serbia and Russia, claims that president Putin and US president Trump will solve the Kosovo issue together and that the Kosovo issue is a part of larger Western aggression against Russia. Putin and Russia are also presented as defenders of Serbs in other places in the Western Balkans, such as Montenegro or the entity of Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the above mentioned portal.
The research notes that pro-Russian media with critical tones about the Serbian government tend to portray Russia as a more important defender of Serbia and Serbian national interests than the Serbian government itself. These media accentuate the Russian position on Kosovo based on the support for UN Security Council Resolution 1244 regardless of Serbian government’s readiness to reach a compromise. According to certain versions of this narrative, Russia even defends Serbia from its own “traitorous” pro-Western government.
Second, based on their readership and influence, Serbian pro-government media, especially tabloid newspapers, are the main promoters of pro-Russian narratives in Serbian media space, according to this research. Despite having no known links to Moscow or Russian funds, they portray Russia in an extremely positive light, promote President Putin’s cult of personality and project a positive image of Serbian-Russian cooperation. “It is well known that some of these tabloid newspapers even put President Putin on hundreds of front pages in recent years, with headlines implying Putin’s protection of Serbs and his resolve to defend Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo,” according to the research.
The research finds that another less dominant, but very interesting narrative, mainly driven by statements and interviews of Russian officials, are the parallels between Kosovo and Crimea. According to this narrative, Kosovo is Serbian just like Crimea is Russian, and just like Crimea was returned to Russia, Kosovo will be returned to Serbia. Disregarding the fact that Kosovo and Crimea are in a way opposite examples, as Crimea actually seceded from Ukraine to join Russia, according to this narrative Kosovo seceded illegally and Crimea legally, since in the latter case there was a referendum on independence.