The US administration on Jan. 5 imposed sanctions on several Bosnian officials and a TV station for alleged corruption and for trying to destabilize Bosnia & Herzegovina. Bosnian Serb political leader Milorad Dodik, his adviser and former president of Bosnia’s High Judicial & Prosecutorial Council, Milan Tegeltija, as well as their affiliated station Alternativna Televizija, topped the list of latest US sanctions. The sanctions mean that they are all banned from travelling to the US, and any assets they have in the US are frozen. Dodik and Tegeltija have publicly rejected the US allegations. A Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) political leader, Mirsad Kukić, was also targeted in the new sanctions. He is accused of using his role as manager of the publicly owned Banovici mine and his seat in the B&H parliament to use “political influence and official power for his personal benefit.”
It is clear that the main target of the new sanctions is Dodik, the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency and the leader of the leading Bosnian Serb party, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD). Dodik was first sanctioned by the US in January 2017.
Originally a US protégé, Dodik has been the main instigator of political crisis in Bosnia for several years. In July 2021 he initiated a boycott of all state institutions by all Bosnian Serb political parties, after the senior international official in the country at the time, High Representative Valentin Inzko, supported legislation banning the denial of genocide. Bosnian Serb political leaders refuse to acknowledge that the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Bosniaks at the town of Srebrenica constituted genocide.
A Bosnian war crimes prosecutor on Dec. 29 indicted nine Bosnian Serbs for killing about 100 Bosniaks during the war in the 1990s. All nine are men who served in the Bosnian Serb army and are accused of killing dozens of Muslim civilians, including seven entire families, including women, the elderly, and children. The civilians they allegedly targeted lived in the southeastern town of Nevesinje.
Earlier last year, a Bosnian Serb soldier and an army commander were convicted of war crimes and failure to prevent war crimes, respectively. In addition, the Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina, the nation’s highest court, upheld a war crime conviction against a Bosnian Serb soldier and the indictment of eight Bosnian Serb soldiers for crimes against humanity during the conflict.
Amid these legal victories, the political crisis between the Serb Republic (RS) and the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina is deepenng. Last month lawmakers in the RS National Assembly voted to begin pulling their republic out of Bosnia’s unified armed forces, judiciary and tax system. The move prompted condemnation from the embassies of the US, UK, France, Germany and Italy. (Balkan Insight, The Guardian, Jurist)