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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ivanov Says 'Hitch' to Blame For Indicted Yugoslav's Visit




FLORENCE, Italy -- The government apologized Wednesday for hosting indicted war criminal Dragoljub Ojdanic, the Yugoslav defense minister, but slammed the UN war crimes tribunal as a "politicized" court.


Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the circumstances of Ojdanic's trip to Moscow earlier this month had been explained to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which now considered the matter closed.


"This was prompted by an internal technical hitch between agencies and ministries, and measures are being taken so that this shall not be repeated," Ivanov said at a news conference at the NATO foreign ministers' conference in Florence.


The United States and other NATO allies were outraged to learn last week that Ojdanic, indicted for alleged crimes when he led Yugoslav forces during the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo, had been received with full honors in Moscow.


The allies, who saw the Ojdanic visit as a slap in the face, reminded Russia that it was a signatory to the United Nations resolution empowering the war crimes tribunal and had a duty to arrest indicted suspects such as Ojdanic.


Ivanov sidestepped a question about whether he or President Vladimir Putin had been aware of the visit.


But he said Moscow believed that "the tribunal is not acting objectively" and had "long since turned into a politicized and not a judicial body."


Ivanov said the court's actions bore witness to this charge and Russia "does not exclude raising the workings of the tribunal at the United Nations."


He repeated Kremlin charges that Western powers were failing to fulfill their commitments to restore Kosovo to a multiethnic society by neglecting to provide sufficient security for Serbs who fled when NATO forces entered the province last June.