Serbia sticks with Russia

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is not without admirers in Serbia. For the country’s television producers, he offers a boost to ratings; on a street in Belgrade, his face appears on a mural alongside the Serbian word for “brother.”

Part of Putin’s allure in Serbia lies in his image as a strongman, an appealing model for its own increasingly authoritarian leader, Aleksandar Vucic, as well as Viktor Orban, the belligerently illiberal leader of neighboring Hungary. Opinion polls suggest both men will win in upcoming elections.

To many Serbs, Russia is a fellow Slavic and Orthodox Christian nation that has served as an unwavering friend and protector over the centuries. Putin is a lodestar for nations whose politics and psyche revolve around cults of victimhood nurtured by resentment and grievance against the West.

History: A sense of victimhood runs deep in Serbia, viewing crimes committed by ethnic kin during the Balkan wars of the 1990s as a defensive response to suffering visited on Serbs. NATO’S bombing of the country more than 20 years ago has left wounds that are still unhealed.

31-III-22, nytimes