Hardline Kosovo Serbs honour Putin

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Ultranationalist Kosovo Serbs have declared Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin an honorary citizen of their territory, the Beta news agency reported Tuesday.

The extremist Kosovo Serbs, who refuse to recognise the ethnic Albanian-dominated government and have lost even Belgrade's backing, announced they will honour Putin "for his efforts invested in the preservation of the (territorial) integrity of Serbia," the report said.

Gathered in an "association of Serb municipalities in Kosovo," the ultranationalist Serbs refuse to recognise the independence of Kosovo, unilaterally proclaimed in 2008.

Because of their extreme stance they have also lost the support of Belgrade since pro-European parties came to power in 2008.

At a meeting in Zubin Potok, a Serb-populated town near the capital Pristina, a medal was handed in to Andrei Shogorov, Russia's top representative in Kosovo, who promised to give it to Putin during his expected March 23 visit to Belgrade, Beta reported.

Serbia, backed by its traditional ally Russia, still considers Kosovo its southern province, despite the fact that it has been recognised as an independent state by 75 countries so far, including the United States and most EU member states.

© 2011 AFP

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