Russian troops on the ground in Kosovo have thus far reacted to the blockade of Orahovac with restraint and patience. The same is not true of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow. A ministry statement on August 24 denounced the Albanian protests as a deliberate and well-ordered “provocation” and “a blatant challenge to the international community.” Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeev intimated on the same day that the protests were nothing more than a part of an orchestrated propaganda campaign being waged by Kosovo Albanian “extremists.” The Russian diplomats continue to make clear that Moscow will insist that its troops be deployed to Orahovac–as agreed upon in Helsinki–apparently regardless of the consequences (Russian agencies, August 24).
And those consequences may be significant. Lieutenant Colonel Tony van Loon, who commands the Dutch task force in Orahovac, spoke last week of the horrible enmity which exists between Serbs and Albanians in Orahovac. The political decision to send the Russian troops there will, he said, complicate things further. He warned that the Russian deployment could set the peacekeeping effort back considerably (New York Times, August 24).
GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION IN SVERDLOVSK.