Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 76

On the heels of Belarusan President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Patriarch Aleksy II of Moscow and all Russia has flown to Serbia on a fraternization mission described as peacemaking. Today Aleksy descended on Belgrade at the head of a thirty-strong delegation of Russian Orthodox clergymen and received a red-carpet welcome from religious leaders and politicians, including Russia’s ambassador to Belgrade, Yuri Kotov, and a government minister, Jugoslav Kostic. “Our visit here shows that we are together in this difficult time,” he said. “We share your sorrow. It’s a sorrow of the people who suffer, who have become refugees, who need help and support” (AP, April 20).

The visit’s agenda, as unveiled yesterday by the patriarch, looks largely political: He plans to call for the cessation of “barbaric NATO strikes,” negotiations with the Milosevic government and inclusion of Russia in those negotiations. Blaming the ethnic cleansing on NATO and exonerating the Serbs, he said that he “plans to raise the issue of refugees, both Serbs and Albanians, who suffer equally from NATO air strikes and flee their homes to escape the bombings” (Itar-Tass, April 19).