BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic bought an investigation on Wednesday into a video clip that supposedly shows a Russian intelligence officer turning over money to a Serbian male, in an event that might strain generally warm bilateral relations.
FILE PICTURE: Russian President Vladimir Putin embellishes Serbian President Alexandar Vucic with an order of Alexander Nevsky after their meeting in Belgrade, Serbia January 17,2019 Maxim Shipenkov/Pool by means of REUTERS
A Bulgaria-based investigative reporter, Christo Grozev, stated on his Twitter account at the weekend that the clip, posted on YouTube, revealed the assistant military attache at Russia’s embassy in Belgrade satisfying a Serbian representative in a sting operation.
Grozev said he utilized Microsoft face-recognition software to determine the Russian male who uses a black leather jacket. here
The clip shows the two males warmly greeting each other in Belgrade, drinking beer and exchanging plastic bags. The Serb, whose face is obscured, later beings in a vehicle, takes an envelope from the bag and suspends the banknotes it contains.
Russian officials in Moscow and Belgrade could not be right away reached for remark.
Revealing the president’s decision to purchase an examination, Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told the Serbian day-to-day Blic: “If this turns out to be real, this would be a severe matter and an issue for us.”
Serbia’s Security and Info Agency (BIA) has confirmed the credibility of the video, the state Tanjug news company said. More details will be made public after Serbia’s national Security Council meets on Thursday, Tanjug added.
The office of Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic stated he had taken a trip to Moscow on Wednesday for talks on “security obstacles” and “cooperation in combating criminal offense” with the head of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev. It did not say whether the journey was connected to the video.
Last month, Sergey Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) stated the 2 countries were carrying out “complex mutual operations” to protect their external interests, without elaborating.
Russia and Serbia, both Slavic, bulk Orthodox Christian nations, have strong political, cultural and financial ties. Moscow backs Belgrade in refusing to recognize the independence of Kosovo, a former Serbian province.
Serbia’s militaries use Russian innovation, jet fighters and tanks. Serbia just recently obtained Russia’s Pantsyr anti-aircraft weapon system, risking sanctions from the United States.
Serbia is likewise depending on Russian oil and gas, and the largest regional oil company, Naftna Industrija Srbije, is majority-owned by Russia’s Gazprom.
Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Modifying by Gareth Jones