Russia slams UN move to create Srebrenica genocide memorial day

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Russia on Wednesday voiced outrage at an effort in the United Nations to create an international day of commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide.

"We view this provocative text as a threat to peace and security in the country (Bosnia), and in the region as a whole," Russia's UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia told the Security Council.

Nebenzia accused Western backers of the draft resolution, which would be considered in the General Assembly and not the Security Council where Russia holds veto power, of unnecessarily "reopening old wounds of civil war."

Bosnian Serb forces captured Srebrenica -- a UN-protected enclave at the time -- on July 11, 1995, a few months before the end of Bosnia's bloody civil war, which saw approximately 100,000 people killed.

In the following days, around 8,000 Muslim men and teenagers were killed by Bosnian Serb forces -- a crime described as a genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice.

The incident is largely regarded as Europe's worst single atrocity since World War II.

Ahead of the 30th anniversary of the massacre coming up in 2025, Germany and Rwanda are leading the UN effort to make July 11 International Day of Reflection and Commemoration of the 1995 Genocide in Srebrenica, to be observed every year.

Bosnian leader Denis Becirovic, a member of the country's multiethnic presidency, told the council that the resolution was "of the highest importance for spreading the truth and awareness about genocide committed against Bosnians."

The proposal, which is set to be voted on next week, has provoked an outcry in Bosnia's Republika Srpska, where thousands of people took to the streets over the weekend.

The president of the Serbian entity, Milorad Dodik, said last week it was a "lie that 8,000 people were killed in seven days."

Nebenzia for his part pointed Wednesday to deadly bombings by NATO forces ahead of the Dayton Accords peace agreement.

It would be "totally illogical and even more so immoral, to have the attempts of NATO members to erase from history the shameful evidence of their bombing of the former Yugoslavia in 1995 and 1999 by pinning all the blame on the Serbs," the Russian ambassador said, claiming that the West suffered from "Serb phobia."

Deputy US envoy Robert Wood meanwhile told the Council "it is a historical fact that genocide was committed in Srebrenica," and that denying those facts "prevents reconciliation."