Russian intelligence organisations in Serbia, Part #2
Все они заканчивают одинаково - в автобусе.
Third update 26 November 2022
Russian government exploitation of young women using hard narcotics
We believe SVR (Russian Foreign Intelligence Service) agents in Belgrade are getting attractive single women to work for them by supplying them with cocaine (to which they become addicted); and also supplying expensive clothing and watches; and then threatening to withdraw the cocaine and other 'job perks' if these women do not work for them or one of the Russian front companies or other parallel structures.
As discussed below, it is good English speakers who are recruited in this deplorable way
We are aware of no fewer than four victims of this sort of trap. There may be more. Out of respect for the privacy of victims of crime, we shall not name the women involved
Second Update 26 November 2022
We believe that the European Center for Peace and Development that we discuss below and in our earlier article in this series, a purported (but unregistered) institution of higher education in Belgrade with offices allegedly at Terazije 41, 11000 Belgrade (although in fact there is no university of that name there), in conjunction with its Moscow head office, is using Russian government funds sluiced through offshore and Serbian companies serviced by Nebojsa Lazarevic, a Serbian fraudster who masquerades as a Serbian government official promotong EU integration (which he is not), to fund (presumably Russophilic) students from the Western Balkans to attend a select list of partner universities in western Europe to obtain higher education degrees.
Presumably the purpose of doing this is to acquaint them with Western Europe so that they may return to Serbia / Russia ready to be committed SVR (Russian Foreign Intelligence Service) agents in a subsequent career.
Obviously this is very unsatisfactory. Western European universities should not be used as training grounds for Russian intelligence agents.
Our best current estimate is that there are at least several dozen such students enrolled under what are essentially false pretences (i.e. as exchange students fron the European Center for Peace and Development, which is not a university at all but a Russian government front organisation), although we are striving for more accuracy in this matter.
We have what we believe to be a complete list of partner universities. Here is the list of partnering institutions.
The University of Western England, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Xx, Paris, France
Xx, Bruxelles, Belgium
Xx, Riga, Latvia
Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Xx, Munich, Germany
Xx, Rome, Italy
Xx, Athens, Greece
Xx, Istanbul, Turkey
We urge all universities in partnership with the European Center for Peace and Development to terminate those partnership arrangements, expel the students immediately, and for those students to be deported to Serbia / Russia / their home nation states, with indefinite entry bans for travel to Western Europe, on national security grounds.
As an aside, the reader may be interested in the curious publications record of the European Center for Peace and Development, which includes a biography celebrating the life and works of Vojislav Seselj, the notorious Serbian war criminal and Serbian neo-fascist who infamously hurled endless expletives at the Judges during his International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia(Haski Tribunal) trial. Seselj was responsible for the callous and indiscriminate slaughter of hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Bosnian civilians during that country's 1992-1995 war.
The Center's publications list includes a number of other intriguing publications; but we will stop here in the interests of avoiding digression. There is plenty of further alarming material published by them, worthy of study for the inquisitive.
Concluding unscientific postscript
Including further updates as of 26 November 2022
Below is a list of Serbian persons known to be on the payroll, directly or indirectly, of Nebojsa Lazarevic and his Serbian shell companies with bank accounts in Nis and other unusual places. We have already documented his methods. We remind everyone that this is illicit Russian government money entering the Serbian economy with a view to perverting Serbia's democratic process.
It is a noteworthy observation that almost all the people Mr Lazarevic keeps on his payroll are professionally fluent in English. That is because their roles are, for the most part but not exclusively, the dissemination of pro-Russian propaganda in English.
Lazarevic works through some unusual intermediary institutions, such as Red Star Football Club (recall that he used to be a football player when he was compulsorily seduced (article in Serbian) by Mira Skoric, the 1990's Milosevic era politician and Serbian folk singer).
He also works through no fewer than three NGO's in Belgrade, the European Policy Center (not to be confused with the legitimate institution of the same name in Brussels); the European Council for Peace and Development (which insinuates that it is a branch of the United Nations University in Tokyo but is no such thing); and European Western Balkans (the most prolific of these institutions that mysteriously has no address, registration, staff list or telephone number) that we refer to below and in greater detail in other articles that this article below links to.
While Mr Lazarevic purports to be a Serbian government official (on his Linked,in page, inter alia - see here) on fact he is not a Serbian government official at all. Instead he is Russophilic fraudster financing various Russian front organisations that seek to interfere in Serbia's and other countries' domestic policies towards the European Union and in their international relations and foreign policy. Describing himself as a government official when he is not one is a serious crime in Serbia and he can expect the attention of the Prosecutor's Office in due course.
Be careful if you find yourself engaging with this man, who must be presumed to be dangerous.
If in doubt, consult us in confidence. Do not accept funds from Nebojsa Lazarevic or any person or entity that you consider suspicious or who might be associated (even casually) with him. You will almost certainly be committing a crime in Serbian law and you can expect the attention of the Serbian Prosecutor's Office.
Dirty Russian money is not welcome in the Republic of Serbia.
Now here is our partial and growing list.
M! P! (nee M!)
Note that if you are European politician or official then you should not agree to be interviewed in any way by any of the persons listed above or by any of the organisations listed in this article. Should you do so, you are unwittingly exposing yourself as a tool of Russian government propaganda.
Original article 24 November 2022
This is the second of two articles about Russian intelligence organisations' operations in the Republic of Serbia, a second Cold War buffer state that is a healthy European democracy but with a number of malign Russian structures, and individuals governing those structures, embedded within Serbian politics and society. We expose those structures, for the benefit of the Serbian people (who know that the Russian government has no interest in supoorting them and instead is just using them for Russia's own ends); and in the interests of keeping Serbian democracy healthy.
Our first article, which itself cross-references a number of detailed biographies of various Russian agents in Serbia, appears here. One should read that article before considering this one.
One of the exercises we undertake, for a variety of purposes in a variety of jurisdictions, is investigate what are transparently Russian government-funded NGO's promoting domestically unusual political agendas consistent with the foreign policy interests of the Russian Federation. This is a standard Russian playbook foreign policy execution: interference with the domestic political systems on fragile democracies - Serbia is a good example - by creating Russia propaganda masquerading as policy analysis and using this to influence domestic government institutions by inserting their proxies into those institutions using more or less corrupt or improper methods. These organisations are typically funded by the Russian government via one or more offshore proxy shell companies that pretend to be an impartial philanthropic institution or something similar.
We have already explored two such Belgrade institutions, the European Center for Peace and Development and the European Policy Center. We have documented their operations in some detail in an earlier article. Here we will explore a third, European Western Balkans, that produces similar anti-EU propaganda seeking to dissuade people in academic and policy circles of the disadvantages and indeed impossibilities of Serbia's (and other regional countries') membership of the European Union. Also of course it buys those academics and policymakers. This is all standard Russian play. At the same time we will disclose the intellectual founders of these various movements.
It is, we might add, rather easy to spot Russian front organisations masquerading as something else; and because of a structural weakness in the way Russians think about inatitutions, it always will be so. However we cannot possibly give away our methodology. We can only refer the reader to the standard textbook on the issue, Mueller, R. et al, Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election (2019). An exceptionally comprehensive treatise, the careful reader will learn virtually everything there is to know on this subject.
In Serbia, we have assessed a former footballer and Serbian folk singer, and committed communist ideologue, Nebojsa Lazarevic, to be the principal bank-roller (or money launderer) for these various Russian activities in Serbia. What has become obvious to us through our interrogation of Russian sources, is that if he falls then the whole financing structure of Russian influence in Serbia falls. He seems to have at the least several dozens of people on his payroll: possibly more; we cannot at the moment of writing be more precise but as soon as we are able to provide more precision we will do.
You do not need to be a genius to launder money; indeed it rather helps if you are not as then you do not understand the risks. All you need is loyalty. And Lazarevic appears, from the face of things, to be the most unconditionally loyal to the Russian government of this bizarre set of Serbian Russophiles. That is because he is an ideologue; and with lots of Kompromat against him of which he is ashamed (particularly in regard to his careers as a football player and folk singer, and his interactions and relations with Milosevic-era politician-cum-singer Mira Skoric).
European Western Balkans, a Serbian website which also has a comprehensive Wikipedia page and a parallel website in English, is one of the most sophisticated Russian proxy organisations in the Western Balkans region. We say it is sophisticated because it purports to provided balanced analysis about the aspirations of Western Balkan member states towards the EU accession process, through the lens of someone who clearly understands the accession process better than most; yet it does so consistently twisting the facts so as to make the process appear impossible - and this is having an impact upon what ordinary Serbs believe - that EU membership can never be achieved because the requirements are too stringent. (This is nonsense; consider Romania and Bulgaria, both of which joined the European Union with substantially lower institutional standards than those round in many Western Balkan countries). Moreover this organisation also prompts the politicians it has purchased to say outrageous and misleading things to EU institutions and European foreign ministries, with a view to their concluding that European Union membership for the Western Balkans is impossible because these countries are too backwards; when in fact this is not so at all.
Consider this. Damjan Krnejvic-Miskovic is a principal Russian asset in Belgrade who associates with Serbian neo-fascists and various other pro-Russian undesirables. Until recently he made regular trips to Brussels purporting to be a leader of the Serbian opposition movement but actually, funded by Russia, he had a mandate falsely to describe the Vucic government as dictators and repressive of human rights. (This is utter nonsense; a handful of suboptimal policing conventions aside, Serbia has some of the best human rights standards in the Balkans.) He has variously travelled under the moniker of the Western Europeans Balkans movement, advocating this organisation's monologue that Serbia is unfit to join the European Union due to its dicatorship and human rights abuses. It seems that EU officials take ever less notice of him, well aware of what he is up to.
As we have already discussed, a Serbian government official called Nebojsa Lazarevic is responsible for the financing arm of these Russian operations, through various shell companies and their problematic Serbian bank accounts that are periodically frozen by reason of money-laundering concerns. However Lazarevic is just the financing tool, a sort of 'dumb waiter' banker for these Russian organisations; he is insufficiently intelligent to direct policy that leans subtly but emphatically in a Russian direction. That is the work of Damjan Krnjevic-Miskovic, a genuine if perverted intellectual who formerly was a Professor at Azerbaijan State University. The other 'intellectual' behind this operation is Milena Lazarevic, Nebojsa's ex-wife, who works at the European Policy Centre (discussed above) but also has her hand in all of these Russian front institutions.
This structure has needed a public mouthpiece, which Krnjevic-Miskovic, in many ways an old-school SVR (Russian Foreign Intelligence Service) spy, has not been able to occupy - he loathes public appearances and does everything he can to stay below the radar. However the Russians have found someone else they can lean upon to present the public face of Russian foreign policy in the Balkans.
Lazarevic's ex-wife, Milena Lazarevic, is an intellectual within the Russian proxies gang in Belgrade. She writes a lot of the junk Russian propaganda masquerading as EU policy analysis. Unlike her ex-husband, she does know something about the EU - at least, enough to spin tales condemning it and expressing exasperation with it at every turn. Much of the more or less discreet pro-Russian propaganda that emanates from so-called think-tanks and NGO's in Belgrade is authored by her. She has a large ego and she is very satisfied with her own intellect in producing all this material. What she really thinks remains a mystery; but without doubt she knows who her paymasters are.
It will probably not surprise the reader familiar with both Serbian society and matters of Russian intelligence to realise that there are constant internecine struggles between the various actors, Nebojsa Lazarevic; his ex-wife Milena; and Damjan Krnjevic-Miskovic. They all have egoes too big for the room: typical of SVR agents.
The good egg
All this presents a terrible burden to Jadranka Joksimovic, for a long time Vucic's trusted advocate in the European Union and Serbia's representative in the European Parliament and the European People's Party (a centre-right pro-European cross-country grouping of parliamentarians across the EU and candidate accession states). Joksimovic is a true Serbian patriot and top intellectual, who has fought hard for Serbia's candidacy to join the EU. She has also been brave enough to support EuroPride, a periodic demonstration in support of the LGBTQ+ community in Belgrade, directly against the interests of Damjan Krnjevic-Miskovic, discussed above, the Russian agent who organises Serbian Opposition rallies using Lazarevic's laundered money, including far-right, pro-Russian and anti-gay demonstrations.
Jadranka Joksimovic, Serbian representative in the European Union and a Serbian patriot.
We would like to emphasise that although we are aware of intelligence materials floating around that suggest Joksimovic to be a Russian mouthpiece, we have concluded those sources to be Russian and an exercise in disinformation. Everything we know about Joksimovic suggests that she is loyal to Serbian President Alexander Vucic and loyal to her country, as well as committed to her task of promoting Serbia's candidacy for membership of the European Union. We commend her and support her entirely over Russian personality assassination campaigns with the contrary agenda that is not in the interests of Serbia or her people.
Hoc non proditor
What all this really tells us is what we have already confirmed, namely that Russia's efforts to disrupt Serbian democratic polity are monumentally incompetent. Casual disinformation campaigns can be deconstructed. Half-truths can be dissected. Money can be traced, to the same handful of Serbian individuals who have sold out their country in favour of the Russian Federation. For such people, we harbour nothing but contempt. Nobody has the right to sell out their country.