Pictures of Vladimir Putin have long been part of the Serbian patriotic iconography. But now some Serbs are going a step further, petitioning Moscow for citizenship. Several sources reported Monday that a group of Serbs in the occupied province of Kosovo (illegally declared independent in February 2008 by an ethnic Albanian "government" backed by the US, EU and NATO) sent a note to the Russian government asking to become Russian citizens.
According to RT, the letter was addressed to the legislature, which may not even be the right address for this sort of thing (as a footnote, it could not have possibly come through via the "Russian Embassy in Kosovo" - since such an embassy ought not exist, given that Moscow doesn't recognize the breakaway province). This suggests that the petition is really a publicity stunt. What are we to make of it, then?
First of all, it is clearly a protest against Belgrade. At its essence, any government is a protection racket, and protecting the lives and property of its subjects (or citizens) is its primary function. By this standard, the current regime in Belgrade is a failed government. Not only has it done nothing to help its citizens in the occupied province, it has actively collaborated with the occupation authorities and even the separatist Albanian "government" to surrender any claim to Kosovo (while publicly pretending otherwise).
The Serbs in Kosovo have successfully resisted both the Albanians and their KFOR/EULEX enforcers, and they aren't about to see their success invalidated by a quisling coterie in Belgrade.Now, perhaps these Serbs have an inaccurate understanding of Russia's military and political capabilities, but it is by no means a stretch to argue that any government could do a better job of safeguarding their lives, liberty and property than the current one. And as the American Founders explained in their own Declaration of Independence, when a government fails its people, it is only reasonable for those people to exchange it for another. So, the principle of the proposed arrangement isn't unusual, only the logistics.
It would be going too far, however, to argue that Russia has a "duty" to say yes. The only country that ought to have a duty towards the Serbs in Kosovo is Serbia. By giving citizenship to the Serb petitioners, Russia would take upon itself the obligation to protect them with more than just words. Perhaps that is what the Serbs had in mind - but then they ought to know it isn't a decision to be made lightly.