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Russian FSB recruited Serbian trade union activist as an agent of influence in the EU, Politico reports

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has used a Serbian agent, Novica Antić, to infiltrate European Union institutions and disseminate pro-Kremlin statements about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Politico writes, citing a Western intelligence service report.

According to the report, in October 2023, Serbian national Novica Antić held several meetings with European Union officials, including with members of the European Parliament in Brussels. Antić has been labeled an active “agent of influence,” one who collaborates with the FSB closely and knowingly.

The list of MEPs who sat down with Antić is said to include German Greens lawmaker Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, Italian Socialists & Democrats lawmaker Alessandra Moretti, and Vladimír Bilčík, a Slovakian member of the conservative European People’s Party Group. The Western intelligence briefing did not suggest that Von Cramon-Taubadel, Moretti, or Bilčík had any prior knowledge of Antić’s involvement with the Russian FSB.

Antić, the chair of the Serbian Military Trade Union, also met with his peers from EUROMIL and EPSU – the European trade unions that represent military personnel and public sector employees, respectively. As EUROMIL stated for Politico, the trade union had no ties with Russian officials and “could take the short-term step of temporarily suspending Serbia’s observer status pending clarification.”

The report also names Antić’s handler in the FSB – Vyacheslav Kalinin, the editor-in-chief of the website Veteranskiye Vesti, which claims to be the information partner of both the FSB and Russia’s Ministry of Defense. Notably, Kalinin is involved in recruiting other foreign nationals.

Antić is said to have been leveraging his role as the chair of the Serbian military union to publicly criticize President Aleksandar Vučić and senior members of the country’s armed forces, “taking every opportunity to promote Russian propaganda relating to the war in Ukraine,” at his meetings with EU officials.

Kalinin is reported to have invited the Serbian activist to Russia to meet with high-ranking military officers in 2019-2020. Antić was initially intended to work as an agent of influence inside Serbian civil society, but his mandate was later expanded to include European army veteran organizations and even the European Parliament.

As Balkan Insight reports, Serbian authorities arrested Antić in February, but the charges against him have yet to be made public. In addition, police have searched the apartments of Serbian Military Trade Union members.

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