Now hundreds of thousands of Russians are thought to have left their Homeland since September when President Putin announced a military call-up of young men to fight in Ukraine they’ve gone to destinations around the world including one place that likely feels familiar as Serbia the Eastern European country has long had close ties with Russia ties that have only gotten stronger since.
The war broke out our correspondent Fanny fachar met one man who was able to escape Putin’s draft but not his propaganda the owners didn’t feel they had to change the name or the decor when Russia invaded Ukraine customers were not put off they admire the Russian leader is the only real leader in the world all the others are just politicians.
But he looks after his country and his people many here in Israel near Belgrade field where the West caused the Ukraine war and yet it’s where Jay a Russian journalist flat to last September before the war.
He had reported on corruption a risky Pursuit that became too dangerous when men started being drafted into the army I left because of mobilization because of the real risk of going to jail or going to war well.
I would not go to war anyway, so I could face jail or torture or anything else you can pick it and I decided to leave right now he decided to come to Serbia because he had some friends here he escaped the Putin regime.
But not his propaganda they have problems with information about war um I’m not in the position to tell Serbian people what they should think and how they should transform their media all good people Angie says he feels safe here but he plans to leave and is more open when talking in private than when the camera is rolling Belgrade city center shows how close the links between the countries have helped spread the Russian narrative on Serbian media Russia’s propaganda mouthpiece recently launched a local online service Serbia is not the most obvious place of Refuge for the thousands fleeing Russia many Serbs here support the Russian regime glory to Russia is painted just outside Serbia’s presidential office polls say more than half of the Serbian population sees Putin as Serbia’s closest foreign Ally.
He’s a good leader because he’s challenging the elite because he’s shaking up the world order sometimes people in Serbia try to break through Russia’s propaganda these protesters are showing the names of bombed Ukrainian towns in front of a Christmas tree donated by Russian their attempt to create awareness is quickly cut short though Russians are welcome in Serbia.
But criticism against Russia lesson foreign who join us now from Vienna funny explain to us why Serbia is one of the main host countries for Russians in Exile but for very very pragmatic reasons because it is very close to the European Union which makes Serbia quite attractive especially for those Russians who flee Russia for economic reason who want to set up a business as quickly as possible and just start a new life or go on with some sort of a life that they’ve been used to a middle-class income life in Russia.
So very pragmatic reasons there apart from the fact that there are direct flights between Russia and Serbia on a daily basis but what I found quite strange is really the people who flee due to political reasons like the journalists we have seen in that report and so many activists and people who spoke up against Vladimir Putin when they were in Russia.
But now being in Serbia and really surrounded by the propaganda it’s really too difficult to actually find people like the journalists in our report that speak up in front of the camera about the fact why they left and in many cases, they do not really articulate their opposition when it comes to Vladimir Putin in their host countries for example in Serbia because they’re so fearful that security Agents from Russia that operate from Serbia as well that they may some sort of have an impact on the people that they have left behind in Russia so it’s a very complex picture and certainly it’s one of those questions that that you propose first not for those that laugh for economic reasons but really the ones who left Russia for political reasons to flee from Vladimir Putin’s regime that they actually go to Serbia where the majority of the population supports Vladimir Putin.
So tell us more about these ties between Russia and Serbia why are they so strong apart from the fact that it’s easy to get from one to the other well very likely puts cheap gas just a few months after the war in Ukraine began Serbia’s president vucci actually extended its gas prom contract with Russia.
So his country receives basically gas under the market price so it’s due to economic interest there but also Russia’s stance on Kosovo is the same as Serbia’s studious Kosovo which declared independence in 2008 is not recognized as an independent state either.
But Serbia nor by Russia so in a way Serbia wants Russia to stay an ally even if it’s more like a passive Ally to say so in this context that Serbia would like to join the European Union but at the same time doesn’t really progress there so it seems like really Serbia is a little bit in between two chairs that really couldn’t be farther from each other between the EU and Russia and the war in Ukraine really exposes.
This bizarre connection that Serbia has with Russia but the country is at Crossroads the pressure is really increasing on Serbia to sign those sanctions and impose those sanctions on Russia that the EU countries have done.
So if it really wants to join the European Union so really this is a situation where Serbia needs to understand the more it flirts with Russia the more it may risk also its way forward the ones who really see the future of Serbia within the European Union and more towards the West DW is funny fetcher thanks so much for that