Why this story matters:
In January 2017, the US ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Maureen Cormack, announced that the United States had imposed sanctions on Milorad Dodik for "actively obstructing efforts to implement the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement." According to Zdravko Krsmanović, a politician from Republika Srpska (a political entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina) and a vocal opponent of Dodik:
"After the historic handshake in Singapore between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump, the president of Republika Srpska is oficially the only remaining president under US sanctions." (translation)
However, this tweet doesn't withstand scrutiny.
Dodik, of course, is not a head of state, so the very premise of the comparison is a bit far-fetched. But even if one takes that road the statement is not accurate. Kim Jong Un's status remains the same and, unsurprisingly, wasn't magically changed by the "handshake." Moreover, there are several presidents currently under US sanction -- among them, Robert Gabriel Mugabe (Zimbabwe); Nicolas Maduro (Venezuela); Bashar Al Assad (Syria) and Alexander Lukashenko (Belarus).
So, Dodik isn't the only high-ranking politician sanctioned by the US -- but he's definitely not in good company, whichever way you look at it. And he probably won't be leaving any time soon. Especially not in an election year, considering that all Dodik's campaigns are based on the very divisiveness, fear mongering and ethnic nationalism which got him there in the first place.
Details from the story:
- This move came after years of Dodik's openly anti-state politics and flirting with the seccession/independance of Republika Srpska, which culminated in a referendum he initiated to dispute a decision of the Constitutional Court of BiH.
- The court had previously decided that the entity's holiday titled "Day of Republika Srpska" was unconstitutional and discriminatory against non-Serbs. The referendum, held in September 2016, was condemned by both the US and the EU.
- The sanctions were imposed by the State Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control, enabling the US authorities to block any assets in Dodik's posession which are under U.S. jurisdiction.
- In response, Dodik claimed that sanctions were introduced as revenge by Obama's outgoing administration, prompted by the fact that he was "officially invited to Donald Trump's inauguration" -- another claim that turned out to be entirely false.