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US Sanctions Serbian Nationalist Leader

  • VOA News

FILE - Milorad Dodik, leader of Alliance of Independent Social Democrats party (SNSD), waits for the congress of his party in East Sarajevo, April 25, 2015.

The U.S. Treasury Department has imposed financial sanctions against Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik for actively obstructing the U.S.-brokered peace accords that ended Bosnia's war in 1995.

The sanctions, imposed Tuesday, allow U.S. authorities to block access by Dodik to any of his property or assets under U.S. jurisdiction.

Dodik, who is president of Bosnia's autonomous Serb Republic, has been criticized by the West for leading a campaign to celebrate a Serbian Republic Day holiday in defiance of the Bosnia and Herzegovina constitutional court.

The Republic Day commemorates the proclamation of a "Republic of Serb people" in Bosnia that took place three months before the inter-ethnic 1992-1995 conflict erupted, eventually claiming 100,000 lives.

An overwhelming majority of Bosnian Serb voters in September supported Dodik's referendum to continue to hold the holiday.

The holiday, however, causes deep anguish among survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of some 8,000 Muslim males by Bosnian Serb forces, Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.

The Dayton peace agreement that ended Bosnia's war split the country into two semi-independent entities, the Republik Srpska and a Muslim-Croat Federation, linked by a weak federal government.

John Smith, a senior Treasury Department official, said that "by obstructing the Dayton accords, Milorad Dodik poses a significant threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina."

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