‘Russia to respond to new US sanctions’, says Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
The scandal with the icon presented to Lavrov: the political context
Julius Nisnevich: &# 171; There is a question of diplomatic unprofessionalism shown by both sides&# 187;
Russian experts comment on the scandal that erupted after a member of the Presidium of Bosnia and Herzegovina – the head of the Republika Srpska – Milorad Dodik on December 14 presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with an ancient icon, which, according to press reports, could have been stolen from the territory of Donbass, which is not controlled by official Kiev.
According to Yuli Nisnevich, Doctor of Political Science, the Old Believer icon came to Bosnia and Herzegovina through illegal channels, and this is due to mercenaries who acted on the side of the separatists in the Ukrainian Donbass. According to Nisnevich, other options are practically not visible.
“During the Bosnian war, many Russians fought on the side of the Serbs,” the political scientist recalled in an interview with the Russian service of the Voice of America. – It is also no secret that the Serbs took part in hostilities (against the Ukrainian military – V.V.) in the Donetsk and Luhansk directions. Mercenaries are usually not too picky and will gladly take with them what is bad. Some of them, being in Luhansk, took advantage of the situation and stole the icon, which then ended up on the black market (Bosnia and Herzegovina). In any case, it seems to me that there is and cannot be any religious component here. “.
According to international experts, several thousand volunteers from Russia and other CIS countries took part in the Bosnian War on the side of the Serbs..
It seems that Milorad Dodik’s entourage did not know about the origin of the icon, Nisnevich continues. Otherwise, he explains, this story would look like a provocation. “Rather, this raises the question of the diplomatic lack of professionalism shown by both sides. If the Minister of Foreign Affairs is presented with an icon on which there is a stamp about its belonging to another state, this will not go into any gate. But if Dodik and his assistants can be slightly excused at least not knowing a foreign language, then Russian diplomats, accepting such a gift, without looking, made an unacceptable mistake, which led to an international scandal and another blow to the country’s image, “the Russian political scientist states..
At the same time, Nisnevich emphasizes that Moscow’s interest in Bosnia and Herzegovina is quite understandable. The main factor here is to prevent the integration of this country into NATO, as well as to show that Russia is not very isolated in the international arena and that it is still a significant player in the Balkans..
Andrei Okara: Russia seeks to prevent Bosnia and Herzegovina from joining NATO
Director of the Center for Eastern European Studies Andriy Okara also believes that there are few options for getting an Old Believer icon from the Luhansk region to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There are two real ways, says Okara: “After 2014, due to the general confusion and rampant crime that always accompanies military operations (in the now uncontrolled territory of Eastern Ukraine), such an icon could be smuggled into the black market of cultural property, and from there – to Dodik’s associates. In addition, the icon could really have been taken out (from Bosnia and Herzegovina – V.V.) by the militants who fought in the Donbass “.
There are Old Believer communities in the Luhansk region, recalls Okara: “In particular, these are the priests (the so-called“ Belokrinitsky consent ”). However, judging by the stamp, the icon could hardly have been in any church. Most likely, it was kept in a museum or museum funds “.
Like Nisnevich, Okara emphasizes that the integration of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe into the North Atlantic Alliance is one of the most painful issues for Moscow, and Sergey Lavrov’s visit to the Balkans should be viewed in this context..
“The goal here is clear – to slow down in every possible way, and ideally to prevent Bosnia and Herzegovina from joining NATO; to a lesser extent it concerns the European Union. Russia perceives this process as extremely painful. Hence her obsessive desire to emphasize her presence in the Balkans, ”the analyst notes..
Okara also stated that in trying to prevent the choice of Bosnia and Herzegovina in favor of NATO, Moscow sometimes acts rather awkwardly, which, in particular, was demonstrated by the recent visit of Lavrov, which led to a double international scandal..
Recall that two members of the Presidium of Bosnia and Herzegovina – Zeljko Komšić and Shefik Jaferovic – refused to meet with the Russian minister, because, in their opinion, Lavrov’s statement on the Dayton agreements, made on the eve of the visit, runs counter to the position of Bosnia and Herzegovina..
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