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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kosovo Politician Blames Fight on Russian Troops




PRISTINA, Yugoslavia -- A Kosovo politician attacked the presence of Russian peacekeepers Wednesday, charging that they provoked him into taking part in a brawl that gave him a black eye and bruises.


The charges by Ramush Hajredinaj, a former regional commander with the Kosovo Liberation Army who has recently entered politics, came one day after he scuffled with peacekeepers at a checkpoint in central Kosovo.


"They're behaving like Rambo," Hajredinaj said of the peacekeepers during an interview at his party offices in the capital, Pristina.


NATO-led peacekeepers defended the behavior of the Russians and German military police who stopped Hajredinaj in the town of Lozica about 50 kilometers from Pristina on Tuesday while he was on his way to a rally.


Hajredinaj was briefly detained because the two guns in his car did not have the proper paperwork, the peacekeepers said in a statement.


Things got out of hand when Hajredinaj tried to escape and take the weapon of one of the soldiers, the statement said. NATO said peacekeepers and military police "subdued him."


Hajredinaj disputed the peacekeepers' version of events, saying he resisted efforts to be taken to the Russian base because of their close ties to the Serbs. He accused peacekeepers of then beating one of his associates. Only then did a scuffle then break out, he said.


He flatly rejected NATO's accusation that he tried to seize anyone's gun.


Hajredinaj, 31, received first aid at the Russian facility in the town of Malisevo before being flown by helicopter to the main NATO headquarters in Pristina