Serbia's Ambassador To Russia Dies 'Suddenly' In Belgrade.

BELGRADE -- Serbia's Foreign Ministry on August 4 announced the sudden death of Belgrade's ambassador to Russia, 71-year-old former military analyst and journalist Miroslav Lazanski.

It said only that he had "passed away suddenly," but Serbian media cited officials as blaming his death on a heart attack at his home in Belgrade.

"His dedication, commitment, and devotion as the ambassador of our country will be remembered, as will his numerous activities aimed at further improving the cooperation and friendship between Serbia and Russia," the ministry said in a statement.

Lazanski was appointed as Belgrade's top envoy to Russia in July 2019.

He was a longtime journalist for the prominent Serbian daily Politika and a military analyst who had reported from conflict zones in Iran and Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Africa, and the Middle East.

Lazanski had also reported during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s from what are now Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, and Kosovo, and from Ukraine's Crimea, which Russia invaded and annexed in 2014.

He was also a frequent commentator for Russia's state-run media organization Sputnik.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who along with his ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) allies has fostered close relations and a strategic partnership with Moscow, expressed his condolences.

"Serbia has lost a great man, its ambassador to the Russian Federation, one of the best experts on geopolitical opportunities, military strategy, and tactics, an exceptional journalist and publicist and, above all, a good man," Vucic wrote.

In a July 2020 report on "Russian interference" in North Macedonia, Bellingcat researchers linked Lazanski to a Moscow effort to "create a strip of militarily neutral countries" in the Balkans.

Bellingcat said that Russian and Serbian intelligence officers "formed a connection" with Lazanski and asserted that "Macedonian counterintelligence also implicated Lazanski as one of the main pro-Kremlin propagandists in the country."

In July, Lazanski was at the center of an unconfirmed Serbian report claiming he had accused neighboring NATO member Montenegro of preventing weapons donated to Belgrade by Russia from being delivered. The Montenegrin Defense Ministry reportedly denied that such permission had even been requested.

The Foreign Ministry said Lazanski's funeral would be held in Belgrade on August 6.

With reporting by AP

Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

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