A branch of the pro-Russian organization "Other Ukraine," founded by the exiled Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, was registered in Serbia, RFE/RL's Schemes project reported on Dec. 7.
Medvedchuk, who was long thought to be Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s right-hand man in Ukraine, was charged with high treason and placed under house arrest in 2021, only to flee as Russia launched its full-scale invasion. He was subsequently re-arrested in April 2022. In September, he was handed over to Russia as part of a prisoner exchange.
The Serbian branch of the organization is headed by Dragan Stanojevic, a Serbian politician and public figure known for his pro-Russian, anti-Ukrainian views. Stanojevic was sanctioned by Ukraine in 2021 and banned from entering the country.
Schemes said that Stanojevic lived in Ukraine in the late 1990s and early 2000s, where he was a head of the "Serbian Community of Ukraine" and participated in other pro-Russian political parties. He also still owns businesses registered in Ukraine.
When Schemes reporters asked Stanojevic about the movement branch and its relation to Medvedchuk, he gave a convoluted answer, saying he was not trying to help Medvedchuk but rather to support Ukrainians who ask for help. He did not specify who exactly he meant. Stanojevic also said that he has"never supported any aggression" but also does "not support the Ukrainian government."
Previously, Stanojevic has publicly celebrated Russian missile strikes on Kyiv, among other inflammatory pro-Russian comments.
He is a candidate in Serbia's parliamentary elections scheduled for Dec. 17.
Serbia has longstanding friendly ties with Russia and has refrained from international attempts to sanction or otherwise isolate the country. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has also called Ukraine a "friendly country" and said in January 2023 that Crimea and Donbas are sovereign Ukrainian territories.