Russian diplomats with special service ties expelled from EU now working in Serbia — RFE/RL

13 March, 07:00 PM
Flag of Serbia (Photo:REUTERS/Yves Herman)

Flag of Serbia (Photo:REUTERS/Yves Herman)

Some Russian diplomats who were expelled from the European Union after the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine are working at the embassy in Serbia, the Russian service of Radio Svoboda reported on March 13.

From Feb. 24 to the end of 2022, EU countries expelled almost 500 Russian diplomats and administrative staff. Many countries, including Poland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, and the Netherlands, have reduced Russian diplomatic missions after the expulsion of a number of diplomats.

At the same time, Russia's diplomatic presence has increased in Serbia, which declares its desire to join the EU: according to diplomatic lists from the Serbian Foreign Ministry's website, 54 Russian diplomats worked there in February 2022, and 62 in March 2023.

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According to journalists, at least three of these diplomats are now accredited representatives of the aggressor state in Serbia, and two of them are connected to Russian special services.

In April 2022, Croatia announced the expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats and six administrative and technical staff of the embassy. In October 2022, the name of one of those expelled, former 2nd Secretary of the Embassy Alexei Ivanenko, appeared on the diplomatic list of the Serbian Foreign Ministry, where he became the first secretary of the embassy.

In 2010-2011, Ivanenko was an engineer at the 16th FSB center, which the United States believes is behind the hacker attacks on U.S. critical infrastructure.

According to the investigators, one of those expelled from Poland in March 2022 is Mikhail Generalov, an adviser to the Russian diplomatic mission. All 45 Russian diplomats expelled from Poland were suspected of espionage. Generalov was also registered in the departmental building of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service in Moscow.

The Serbian Foreign Ministry's website states that Generalov is currently working in the same position at the Russian Embassy in Serbia.

Pyotr Dolgoshein, who until the summer of 2022 served as second secretary of the Russian Embassy in Helsinki, is now working as an adviser to the Russian Embassy in the Serbian capital of Belgrade.

The spokesman for EU diplomacy chief Josep Borrell told reporters that it is entirely up to Moscow to decide whether to send a diplomat expelled from one EU country to another EU state.

Each European country also decides for itself whether to allow such a diplomat to enter the country. A senior European official told Radio Svoboda on condition of anonymity that it is not formally prohibited to transfer a diplomat expelled from one EU country to another, but that such a ban is considered an unspoken practice.

The Russian and Serbian Foreign Ministries, the Serbian government, and the office of President Aleksandar Vucic did not respond to the investigators' request for comment.

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