BiH Presidency Member Milorad Dodik told the Srna news agency that the US decision to impose sanctions on him and a private TV station linked to him is “meaningless” and that it represents an attack on the Serb people.
The US Department of the Treasury has expanded sanctions on Dodik which have been in force since 2017 and has introduced sanctions against the private TV station Alternativna TV on Wednesday.
“Perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is the time when this decision was announced, that is, just ahead of the biggest Christian holiday, Christmas,” he said, referring to the Orthodox Christmas that is observed on January 6.
“Historically, as a people, we have been attacked on major holidays, and I know that those who are behind this decision know that,” he argued.
The other thing that comes to mind is, he said, “that a country that prides itself on human rights and freedom of the media has sanctioned the media.”
“If this is not an attack on freedom of expression and free speech, then I don't know what is,” Dodik argued.
He said that he is not sure why exactly he is being punished.
“The first time, they said that I was violating the Dayton Peace Agreement without stating how I violated the Dayton Peace Agreement. Now, as I hear, I am also charged with corruption, and no criminal proceedings for corruption are being conducted against me in BiH or anywhere in the world,” he said.
Dodik argued that the sanctions are a result of lobbying by “several American officials who do not share the vision of BiH as I have and as it was signed in 1995.”
“If they think that they will discipline me in this way, they are grossly mistaken. It is only now that I get a new motive to fight for the rights that have been taken away from us for 26 years,” he said, adding that “the decision of the USA to sanction me again came on the eve of marking the 30th anniversary of the existence of the Republika Srpska.”
“I am afraid that everything they did is too small to stop me because I was not elected to represent the Americans, but the interests of the people of Republika Srpska. As long as I am this job, it will be like that,” he said.