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Thousands of Kosovo Serbs want to take out Russian passports in order to guaranteer their security in the Albanian-dominated country, a Kosovo Serb group has told the Russian embassy in Serbia.
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The Russian embassy in Belgrade has forwarded to Moscow a request from an umbrella organisation of Kosovo Serbs who wish to obtain Russian passports.
Balkan Insight has learned from the embassy that the letters says some 20,000 Serbs in Kosovo want to take out Russian citizenship, apparently believing it will guarantee their safety in the newly independent country.
The Russian foreign ministry is expected to pass the request to the State Duma for consideration.
The initiative follows an innaugural meeting of the Association of Citizens from Kosovo and Metohija that was held on Saturday in Nis, in south-central Serbia.
Ljubisa Vucic, president of the association, said: "Russia is a friendly country that is constitutionally obligated to protect its citizens wherever they are," the Serbian daily Danas cited him on Monday as having said.
Serbia and Russia have long had close political and economic relations. Many Serbs view Russia as a "big brother" and both peoples belong to the same Orthodox branch of Christianity. Russia is a strong diplomatic ally of Serbia's and has been its most vocal champion on the issue of Kosovo, fiercely denouncing Kosovo's independence, proclaimed in 2008.
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