( RIA Novosti ) - A senior Russian MP said Monday he doubts the legitimacy of Saturday's elections in Kosovo and believes their outcome will only prod the West into recognizing the independence of Serbia's breakaway province.
Parliamentary elections in Kosovo, held on November 17, were, according to unofficial results, won by former rebel leader Hashim Thaci, who vowed to declare independence for Kosovo.
"As far as the unilateral proclamation of Kosovo's independence is concerned, these elections make virtually no difference - rather, they make that prospect more real," said Konstantin Kosachyov, who heads the International Affairs Committee of the lower house of Russia's parliament.
He said the election results were hardly surprising, while the situation where at least 200,000 indigenous residents were unable to vote, while the province's Serb population boycotted the election, was unacceptable.
Kosovo has been a UN protectorate since NATO's 78-day bombing campaign against the former Yugoslavia ended a conflict between Serb forces and Muslim Albanian separatists in 1999.
Serbian officials and representatives of Kosovo have failed so far to reach a compromise on Kosovo's status.
The U.S. and some EU states are pushing for Kosovo's independence, while Russia has strongly opposed sovereignty for the province, saying it would set a dangerous precedent, including for post-Soviet states.
December 10 has been set as the deadline for the Contact group negotiating a solution on the predominantly Albanian province's status - Russia, the United States, and the four largest European Union members - to submit a report to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Belgrade and Russia have spoken out against strict timeframes in the long-running dispute, but Kosovo Albanian leaders have said they will declare independence unilaterally if no deal is reached by the December 10 deadline.