Russia Ready to Accept Milosevic for Treatment

By Sergei Blagov | July 7, 2008 | 8:17 PM EDT

Moscow ( - Russia voiced readiness Wednesday to accept former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, currently charged with war crimes, to Moscow for medical treatment, adding that the Russian authorities would guarantee his return to The Hague international tribunal following the trip.

"Russia has sent the necessary folder of documents to the international tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, on the basis of which the tribunal could take a decision on the temporary release of Milosevic," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said in televised remarks Wednesday.

"Apart from this, Milosevic himself has offered the tribunal guarantees that he will return to The Hague immediately after the completion of his treatment," said Kamynin.

The guarantees in writing were reportedly provided by Russia in response to a request by Milosevic's lawyers, Steven Kay and Gillian Higgins. The Russian embassy to the Netherlands delivered the guarantees to the lawyers and the tribunal's secretariat on Tuesday.

Milosevic, 64, is charged by the United Nations war crimes tribunal with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Balkans in the 1990s. Judges have adjourned his four-year trial until January 23.

Meanwhile, Milosevic, who is suffering from a heart condition and high blood pressure, has asked for a temporary release from detention in the Netherlands, where he is being tried.

Russian officials have been keen to convince the tribunal that Milosevic would not use his Russian trip as an escape route. If in Russia, Milosevic will not leave the territory of the Bakulev medical center during his stay in Moscow, Kamynin said.

"Milosevic has also vowed to observe the terms and conditions of any temporary release that might be granted to him by the Hague Tribunal, including not leaving the Bakulev center," said Kamynin.

The two Slav and Orthodox Christian nations, Russia and Serbia, have traditionally maintained close ties. Moscow supported Milosevic-led former Yugoslavia during the 1990s. Russia also strongly criticized the NATO air-strikes against Yugoslavia in 1999 that entailed Milosevic's demise the next year.

Milosevic's brother Borislav, who is a former ambassador to Moscow and lives in Russia, said that Milosevic should be allowed to undergo cardiologic treatment.

Otherwise, "it will be a clear violation of his human rights," Borislav said. "Why should not he return" to The Hague with the Russian guarantees provided, Borislav asked in televised remarks Wednesday.

However, the prosecution in Milosevic's trial opposes the Russian trip, arguing that Milosevic's brother, wife and son could all be in Russia and that he could be declared unfit to travel back as soon as he arrives.

The prosecutors have indicated they would oppose Milosevic's temporary release even if Russia provided guarantees of his return, saying Moscow has previously not fulfilled its promises in such cases.

However, Russian officials denied any plans to give Milosevic any kind of special treatment. "This does not reflect reality," Kamynin said, adding that all conventions of international law should be followed.

Reports of Milosevic's possible medical treatment in Russia coincided with media allegations about another prominent suspect.

Serbian media claimed Wednesday that Bosnian Serb former military leader and top war crimes suspect, General Ratko Mladic, is in Russia. Mladic disappeared when Milosevic was arrested in 2001 and has been on the run since being indicted for genocide by the UN war crimes court in 1995.

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