On the streets of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, young people sport t-shirts emblazoned with the image of Russian leader. "I like Vladimir," one of them named Darijo Marakovic told the German newspaper. "Putin always gets what he wants. … To an extent he is our god," he noted adding that the Russian president is the only hope for the Balkans.
Best t-shirt I saw in Belgrade has tough looking Putin wearing sunglasses, and it says "Kosovo is Serbia. Crimea is Russia":)— Mariann Őry (@otmarianna) 11 июля 2015
A recent poll conducted by the Politika newspaper showed that over 61 percent of Serbs want their government to strengthen ties with Russia, the German business publication reported. Many locals pin their hopes on Russia as the only country which can help them and they have grounds to think this way.
Last year, Moscow was swift in providing assistance to Serbia, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina hit by devastating floods said to be the worst in over a century.
"Dozens were killed; hundreds of those who lost the roof over their heads were waiting for help. When Brussels was discussing what steps should be taken, Russia offered real assistance by sending helicopters, equipment to clear debris, medical aid and rescue workers," the German newspaper wrote, citing a 73-year-old Serbian selling vegetables in Belgrade.
"Russia feels deep connection to the Western Balkans populated by Slavs and Orthodox Christians," Handelsblatt noted. They evidently return the affection.
During his brief visit to Belgrade last year, the Russian president was greeted with cheers and chants "Putin, Putin." Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic called Russia a "big ally" of his nation. "Serbia will not jeopardize its moral principles due to some negative attitudes towards Russia," he added.