I have spoken before about the need to apply Occam's Razor to Russia - more specifically, the Heinlein conjecture, which states that one should never attribute anything to malice that can be adequately explained by stupidity. I never cease to be amazed by the ability of Russian institutions of greater or lesser officialdom to embarass themselves in spectacular ways. Really, it's a government full of Boris Johnsons.
I've stayed away from the whole Kosovo issue, because I don't have enough information to make a good judgement on it; I have the impression that the process happening now is more Kosovo's separation from Serbia rather than actual independence - since it'll be run by the EU (and even its flag is a version of the European one). But Serbia is pissed off.
Russia's reaction is mixed. On the one hand, it has been trying to use Serbia as a client state for ages - during the NATO bombings, I've heard rhetoric that Serbia is the only major nation in Europe that is both Slavic and Orthodox; Greece being the latter but not the former, and Poland the former but not the latter. So if Serbia is indignant, Russia is too. Especially since Kosovo is now the dominion of the West, so they get to trot out the old lines about imperialist pigs again.
On the other hand, they are gleefully pointing to Kosovo as a precedent, and demanding international recognition for Abkhasia, South Ossetia and Transdniestr. I've even heard a few local voices piping up again with the idea of an Independent Republic of Ida-Virumaa, which incidentally I would just love to see them try. So Russia finds itself in propaganda heaven, a win-win situation.
And then Russia's state-owned television channel puts out a news show where the anchor spews out the following:
Today the people of Belgrade surely remember other public gatherings. They remember the madness of the crowd that brought down old man Milosevic. The same football fans, by the way. How a country giddy with liberal promises cried at the funeral of the Western puppet Zoran Djindjic - the man who destroyed the legendary Serbian army and secret services, who sold the heroes of Serbian resistance out to The Hague for abstract economic assistance, and who got a well-deserved bullet for it.Youtube link if you understand Russian. Zoran Djindjic was the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Serbia after the end of Milosevic's regime, murdered in 2003.
Holy. Fucking. Shit. This is Russian state TV. Not just a media puppet - this is the official channel of the Kremlin.
The show in question went out at midnight Thursday/Friday. Naturally, the Serbian government is livid. The NewsRu article linked above has a quote from the former Balkan bureau chief of the Russian state newswire, Sergei Gryzunov, saying that this quote is a call for the murder the current Serbian president, Boris Tadic (who was a close supporter of Djindjic's).
So the main question now is, was this an authorized statement, or was the anchor overexcited and taking advantage of the poorly-censored midnight time slot? If it's the latter, we should see news of his dismissal shortly. I lean towards this explanation, because of the reason stated above, but then haven't we seen similar sort of preposterous spew out of the Russian state media directed towards Estonia or Georgia? The only difference now is that Serbia is, ostensibly, on Russia's side.
These people are hilarious, but occasionally their delusion can be scary.