August 23, 2000Russia says UN tolerating attacks on Kosovo Serbs
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said Wednesday that Kosovo's U.N.-led administration was turning a blind eye to continued violence against ethnic Serbs in the de-facto international protectorate.
A Russian Foreign Ministry statement said the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) could not ensure the conditions needed for free and fair elections in the province.
The statement condemned as "terrorist acts" a grenade attack last Friday which injured nine Serb children and an explosion the same day in a building housing political parties and Serb authorities.
"These outbursts of violence aimed against Serbs who remain in Kosovo, as well as against ethnic minorities, take place with the obvious toleration of UNMIK administration and KFOR (NATO-lead peacekeepers).
"Such acts once again confirm that even minimal conditions are lacking in the region to make the municipal elections enforced by UNMIK head Bernard Kouchner truly free, fair and democratic," it said.
Legally, Kosovo continues to be a province of Yugoslavia but UNMIK and KFOR run it as an effective protectorate since the NATO bombardment forced Serb troops to leave in June 1999.
Violence against the approximately 100,000 remaining ethnic Serbs is a daily occurrence.
The attacks, seen by Albanians as vengeance for years of Serb repression, overshadow preparations for the October 28 local elections which UNMIK wants to see as a milestone on the way to installing democracy in Kosovo.
Only 1,000 Serbs have registered for the elections.
Russian forces participate in KFOR but Moscow has repeatedly sided with Belgrade. It denounced NATO's campaign last year.