US Embassy in Sarajevo meddling in elections, says Bosnian Serb Leader Milorad Dodik.
After Russia was blamed for allegedly meddling in the 2016 United States’ Presidential Elections, it seems like the tables have turned on the US after its embassy in Sarajevo was accused of interfering in the Balkan country’s election process by a Bosnian Serb leader.
The country of Bosnia is divided into two parts: Republika Srpska and an entity for its Muslim Bosniak and Croat populations called the Muslim-Croat Federation of Bosniaks and Croats. The Republika is an ethnic Serb-dominated region. Milorad Dodik, the person who made the allegations, is the President of Republika Srpska. He believes that the U.S. Agency for International Development – also known as USAID – was working towards refuting Russian influence in his country by implementing its programs through non-profit organisations (NGOs). He also alleged that the USAID was granting funds under a pretence of contesting against crimes. He said, “Aiming to directly interfere in internal affairs of the Republika Srpska and Bosnia, USAID … tries to avoid all institutions and to grant funds under cover of the alleged fight against crime and corruption.”Bosnia’s Central Government, which acts as a link between its two regions, was also accused of working with the USAID in the conspiracy. Dodikthen proceeded to threaten all NGOs working with and receiving funds from USAID with having to undergo investigation.
However, these allegations are difficult to believe as Dodik is a regular critic of the Western world and prefers Russian ties. He has been blacklisted by the US for pushing for an illegal referendum on an illegal holiday. The US embassy released a statement saying: “Once again, the assistance of the people of the United States is being used to support wild conspiracy theories in the interest of election campaigning in Bosnia”. Denis Zvizdic, the Prime Minister of Bosnia also dismissed these allegations by stating that the programs currently undergoing discussion between the embassy and the Bosnian Government are in the initial stages and can in no way have an influence over the election process. He simultaneously called him out for issuing “provocative statements”. The US embassy is negotiating $8 million worth of programs to help combat graft. It also blamed Dodikfor trying to delude the public and intimidate the USAID partners. These are not Dodiks first accusations, having claimed just last month that the UK sent intelligence specialists to interfere in the elections. Dodik, who began campaigning in October for Serbs’ seat in Bosnia’s tripartite inter-ethnic presidency, was called out by Britain for inventing fake threats” as an election campaigning strategy.
Dodik is under the impression that the West is biased against Serbs and is an advocate of the Serb region’s separation from Bosnia.
*Neha Hardikar is a Research Intern at The Kootneeti