Thousands attended a pro-Russia rally organized by the Serbian far-right organization the People’s Patrols in Belgrade on Friday, March 4.
Participants gathered in front of the monument of Russia’s Tsar Nikolai II and marched towards the Russian Embassy.
Protestors carried Russian flags, chanted slogans and anthems in support of Russia, and displayed placards with the Z letter which has become synonymous with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Symbols from far right groups could also be seen in the crowd, including the black-yellow-white flag of the Russian far right and the Chetnik flag that has become the symbol of the ultranationalist movement in Serbia.
According to Serbian media, Damnjan Knezevic, a member of People’s Patrols, said that “that russophobia in Serbia is at the level of a statistical error” and “every Russian is a brother to every Serb.”
On Wednesday, Serbia was pressured into voting in favor of a UN resolution “deploring” the Russian “special operation”, but it has refused to condemn the invasion. Belarus is the only other country in the region that has not denounced Putin’s war.
Although Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that Serbia supports Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty, it has not imposed any sanctions against Russia despite repeated calls from the European Union.
Serbia remains Russia’s main ally in the Western Balkans. In 2014, it refused the EU’s call to impose sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Crimea.
Vucic has fostered close ties with Putin who has bolstered Serbia’s military, providing arms, tanks, fighter jets, and helicopters.
The Serbian President relies on Putin’s support for his ambitions in the region, including Serbia’s refusal to recognize Kosovo’s independence and his call for the unification of Serbs in the Western Balkans.