Russia urges punishment for Bosnia massacre culprits

KONFRONTASI - Russia’s Foreign Ministry has called for the punishment of all those responsible for the massacre of nearly 8,000 Muslims in Bosnia in 1995 “as soon as possible” despite vetoing a UN Security Council resolution censuring the event as a “crime of genocide” just days ago.

“We strongly call for all individuals involved in these and other atrocities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be brought to justice and be deservedly punished as soon as possible. We express our sincere condolences to the families of all innocent victims,” said the ministry’s statement as cited in a Russia Today report on Saturday, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the grim tragedy.

Moscow “will continue doing everything within its power to consistently strengthen inter-ethnic and inter-confessional peace in this country and elsewhere in the Balkans,” added the statement.

It further noted, “We are convinced that the establishment of mutual understanding among individuals and peoples is the best way to guarantee peace, stability and prosperity in the region.” 

On Wednesday, however, Moscow vetoed the resolution condemning the Srebrenica massacre as genocide committed by Serbian army forces, with Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin describing the draft text as “not constructive, confrontational and politically motivated.”

Before it was vetoed, 10 council members had voted in favor of the resolution with China, Nigeria, Angola and Venezuela abstaining.

This is while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (pictured below) dismissed the draft resolution back in June as “anti-Serbian,” saying it “provokes further inter-ethnic tensions in the Balkans rather than promoting reconciliation of all the peoples living there.”

The development came as Serbian authorities banned all public gatherings in the capital Belgrade to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre.

Serbia's Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic claimed in a Friday announcement that the rallies were banned due to security concerns.

“I warn anyone considering rallying anyway that police will neither allow, nor tolerate any gatherings,” he added.

Meanwhile, newly revealed documents on the 1995 carnage of Muslims by Serbian death squads show that British, American and French governments were prepared to cede UN-protected safe areas to armed Serb militias during the war in Bosnia.

According to declassified US cables cited last week by the UK-based daily The Guardian, details of the killings reached Western intelligence agencies and decision-makers soon after the carnage began on July 13, 1995.

The bloodshed took place after Bosnian Serbs ran over the Bosnian town of Srebrenica even though it was formally declared a UN-protected area.

The declassified cables also unveiled that prior to the mass killings, Washington called on the UN peacekeeping forces in Srebrenica to pull back from safe areas, a decision backed by Paris and London.[ptv]