MOSCOW – Russia's Federal Security Service (search), or FSB, on Saturday denied media reports that it was sheltering several Bosnian Serbs wanted by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague (search), Netherlands.
"These reports do not correspond to reality. The FSB has not sheltered and is not sheltering criminals," an agency spokesman told The Associated Press.
Russia's ambassador to Bosnia conceded Wednesday that a Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect who surrendered to the U.N. war crimes tribunal a few days earlier may have been hiding out in Russia in recent years.
Gojko Jankovic, indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal (search) for the former Yugoslavia, is accused of atrocities against Muslims during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia.
The Russian diplomat's admission came after Western media reports that over the past few years Russia's secret services have been sheltering several Bosnian Serbs wanted for war crimes — including Jankovic.
"They (the Serb war crimes suspects) have never been under the protection of the FSB," the main successor agency to the KGB (search), the official said, describing the reports as a "provocation."
Britain's The Guardian newspaper this week reported that Jankovic had lived in Moscow for the past four years.
Also named by the newspaper were Vinko Pandurevic and Vujadin Popovic, two senior Bosnian Serb military figures accused of genocide over the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in response that it had "no information" about the whereabouts of the Bosnian Serb fugitives and insisted that Moscow was cooperating fully with the international tribunal to ensure that any individuals accused of war crimes stand trial.