Pro-Russian politician heads anti-Ukrainian organization’s branch in Serbia, journalists reveal

Dragan Stanojević and Viktor Medvedchuk
Dragan Stanojević and Viktor Medvedchuk
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A branch of the Russian civic organization “Drugaia Ukraina” (Another Ukraine), established by former Ukrainian MP Viktor Medvedchuk, has been registered in Serbia and is now led by a pro-Russian politician, according to a report published on Dec. 7 by investigative journalism outlet Schemes.

According to the Serbian Register of Legal Entities, the branch was officially registered in August 2023. The purpose of the organization, as stated in the official extract, is to “facilitate mutually beneficial cooperation between the peoples of Serbia, Russia, and Ukraine,” with Dragan Stanojević appointed as the authorized representative.

Stanojević, a pro-Russian Serbian public figure and politician, has been under sanctions by Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council since June 2021, preventing him from entering Ukraine for three years. His public endorsements of Russian policies, admiration for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, and support for Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban have drawn fierce criticism from pro-Ukrainian activists.

Read also: Hungary and Serbia help fund Putin's military — Bulgarian PM

Stanojević notably expressed delight at the Russian shelling of Kyiv, and criticized the arrest of Medvedchuk on charges of treason in 2022. Currently, he is a candidate for the pro-Russian party “We Are the Voice of the People” in Serbia’s upcoming snap parliamentary elections on Dec. 17.

Stanojević’s social media presence reveals connections with top Serbian officials, including President Tomislav Nikolić (2012-2017) and current President Aleksandar Vučić.

His ties to Ukraine date back to the late 90s and early 2000s, where he lived, led the Serbian community, and participated in public events in Kyiv and meetings of Putin’s United Russia party.

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Despite his pro-Russian stance, YouControl data indicates that Stanojević remains the head of the joint Ukrainian-Yugoslav company “Yug-Ukr-Contract,” owning property in Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts.

Commenting on the matter, Stanojević stated that his “idea is not to assist Medvedchuk,” as he “doesn’t need assistance,” but to “help Ukrainians who seek assistance.”

Read also: Ukraine’s SBU says claim that Russia building up spy network in SBU is ‘misinterpretation of Danilov’s words’

“I won’t be sucked into your political war because power is temporary, and the people are eternal, and I do everything I can for the peoples,” Stanojević said.

“I have never supported any aggression, and I don’t intend to.”

Despite his supposed non-aggression stance, Stanojević says he won’t support the Ukrainian government, which, according to him, “destroyed the Ukraine he loved” and “engages in a policy destroying the blossom of the Ukrainian nation and waging a war against diversity of thought.”

“I warned Ukraine where the Maidan politics would lead,” he concluded.

After establishing a branch in Serbia, the Russian civic organization “Drugaia Ukraina” (Another Ukraine), created by former Ukrainian MP Viktor Medvedchuk, underwent changes in the Russian registry, Schemes reported. It is no longer categorized as a “regional civic movement” but now labeled as an “international civic movement.” The organization’s leadership also saw a change, with Russian citizen Roman Kovalenko replacing former 112 Ukraine channel host Denis Zharkyh.

Read also: Propagandist from Medvedchuk’s television network sentenced to 10 years in prison – SBU

The investigation reveals that 53-year-old Roman Kovalenko hails from Donetsk Oblast. In 2021, he was summoned to a session of the Artemivsk District Court in Donetsk Oblast as a defendant in a criminal case related to financing terrorism.

Kovalenko, claiming to be a lawyer and a Ph.D. in economics, shares Medvedchuk’s articles on his social media pages and identifies himself as the head of the executive committee of the international organization “Drugaia Ukraina.” According to the organization’s website, Viktor Medvedchuk serves as the head of its council.

Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) detained Medvedchuk on April 12, 2022.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that Medvedchuk had been in hiding for 48 days and attempted to flee Ukraine but was apprehended, wearing military camouflage. The president proposed exchanging the politician for Ukrainian prisoners held in Russia.

On the night of Sept. 22, Ukraine repatriated 215 defenders from Russian captivity, including 188 who defended Mariupol and 108 from the Azov Battalion. Five Azovstal garrison commanders were exchanged for 55 Russian military personnel and remained in Turkey under guarantees of protection and safety.

In exchange for other Ukrainian prisoners-of-war, Ukraine handed over Medvedchuk to the aggressor country. According to Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov, Medvedchuk was brought to Moscow, but “the red carpet was not rolled out for him.”

Following the exchange, Zelenskyy revoked Medvedchuk’s citizenship, stripped him of his lawyer status, and excluded him from the National Academy of Legal Sciences.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine