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Russia looks to UN Security Council to annul Kosovo independence

Russia hopes that the UN Security Council will annul as illegitimate Kosovo's unilateral declaration of sovereignty, a Russian official said on Monday.

Kosovo declared independence on Sunday after an emergency session of parliament, with Prime Minister Hashim Thaci saying the new state would be "proud, independent and free."

"We hope that the UN Security Council will determine the situation within the framework of resolution 1244 and assess this act as illegitimate and contradicting the UN Charter and the resolution on Kosovo's status," Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, Russia's envoy on the Kosovo status talks, said.

Britain, Germany, Italy and France have already recognized Kosovo. The U.S. looks set to follow suit shortly. Russia and Serbia, among other states, remain opposed to any unilateral declaration of independence by Pristina.

"It is obvious that we [Russia] are not recognizing Kosovo's independence. We will be seeking the annulment of the declaration by the UN mission in Kosovo," the official said.

Kosovo has been a UN protectorate since the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia ended a conflict between Albanian and Serb forces in 1999. Over 200,000 Serbians have left Kosovo since 1999 and some 100,000 are still living in the province, which has a total population of two million.

Botsan-Kharchenko also said that the current situation is actually progressing toward the de-facto division of Kosovo.

"The Albanian part of Kosovo will attempt to live within the framework of the declaration of independence, while Serbs will live separately. It will be in fact a divided territory, or in other words, it is the formation of yet another 'frozen' conflict," he said.

The further development of the situation, he said, will greatly depend on the situation in Kosovo.

"They will encounter great difficulties in organizing the practical issues of everyday life, including work with Serbs, not to mention the absolutely unresolved issue of crime," he said.

The news of Kosovo's declaration was met with street riots in Belgrade. Gangs of youths protesting against the secession of Kosovo carried on running battles with riot police all night, with 47 people reported injured. Symbols of 'Americanism,' including two fast food restaurants, were also reported to have been attacked by protestors.

A hand grenade was thrown at a UN court building in the mainly Serb northern Kosovan town of Mitrovica on Sunday night as Albanians celebrated independence in the south of the town.

RIA Novosti

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