US imposes fresh sanctions on Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik

The United States has imposed fresh sanctions on Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik. The U.S. Treasury Department in a statement accused Dodik, already subject to U.S. sanctions under a different authority, of corruption and threatening the stability and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina Reuters reports.

The Treasury also slapped sanctions on Banja Luka-based media outlet Alternativna Television (ATV), accusing Dodik of acquiring it to further his own agenda and exerting personal control over it.

ATV strongly condemned the U.S. sanctions as a direct strike on media freedoms and democracy and its management dismissed allegations about ties with Dodik as "senseless."

"We are surprised with such a decision and regard as extremely trivial that a great state should take individual insinuations about ties between our media house and politicians as credible sources," ATV said in a statement sent to Reuters.

The Treasury designations, which freeze any of Dodik and ATV's U.S. assets and bar Americans from dealing with them, are the first use of an executive order issued in June allowing the United States to target those threatening peace or stability in the Western Balkans.

The U.S. State Department also barred current and former Bosnia and Herzegovina officials from entering the United States, targeting Milan Tegeltija, a former president of the high judicial council, and Mirsad Kukic, a lawmaker and president of the Movement for Democratic Action.

Tegeltija said in a tweet that the sanctions were not based on court proceedings so he did not feel he should defend himself, but were a "result of the politics which contains a brutal political pressure."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a separate statement warned of further action: "Other leaders and entities linked to corrupt or destabilising actors may also be subject to future actions by the U.S. Government."

Dodik, who serves as the Serb member of Bosnia's tripartite inter-ethnic presidency, wants to roll back all reforms made after the war and return to the 1995 constitution under which the state was represented by basic institutions only while all powers had belonged to the regions.

"Milorad Dodik's destabilising corrupt activities and attempts to dismantle the Dayton Peace Accords, motivated by his own self-interest, threaten the stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the entire region," Brian Nelson, Treasury's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in the statement.

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