Europe

Serbia's pro-Russia leader is urged to drop presidency bid

A senior leader in Serbia's ruling coalition has urged President Tomislav Nikolic, a pro-Russian politician, to drop the idea of running for a second term in the country's election this spring.

Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said Saturday that his Socialist Party supports Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic for the presidency instead. He says Nikolic should withdraw.

Nikolic has hinted he could run, even though his own Serbian Progressive Party has overwhelmingly backed Vucic's candidacy. Serbian media have speculated that Nikolic enjoys support from Moscow for his bid.

The presidential vote is expected to test the popularity of Vucic and his populist coalition against fractured opposition candidates.

Vucic is a former extreme nationalist who now says he wants to lead Serbia toward European Union membership while also keeping close ties with Russia.