While citizens in the city of Tuzla, in Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity, gathered to express support for Ukraine on Saturday, a gathering in support of Russia is taking place in Banja Luka, the administrative centre of Bosnia’s Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) entity.
The City of Tuzla, the Tuzla Citizens’ Forum and the Srebrenica Memorial Center organized a rally in the city of Tuzla to express support for the people of Ukraine and peace in Europe and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“We want to express support for peace in Europe and the preservation of peace in BiH. The strength of our message will directly depend on the number of people and citizens who come to Freedom Square,” said Tuzla’s mayor, Jasmin Imamovic.
Among those who will speak at the rally are academician Slavo Kukic, theatre and film director Dino Mustafic, journalist and publicist Dragan Bursac, as well as the charge d'affaires of the Embassy of Ukraine in BiH.
At the same time, there is a rally taking place in Banja Luka in support of Russia. Among those to address the crowd are the president of the Socialist Party, Petar Djokic and the RS Minister of Labour, War Veterans and Disabled Persons’ Protection, Dusko Milunovic.
This gathering was organised by the local branch of the Night Wolves, a Russian Motorcycle Club with at least 45 chapters worldwide. The United States announced sanctions against the Night Wolves in 2014 due to their involvement in the conflicts in Ukraine.
Skup podrške Rusiji u Banjaluci. Za sada su tu i predsjednik Socijalističke partije Petar Đokić i ministar rada i boračko invalidske zaštite Republike Srpske Duško Milunović. Skup organizovalo Udruženje "Srpsko-ruski most". @N1infoSA pic.twitter.com/CqlrATVXrF— Mladen Vujinović (@M_Vujinovic) March 12, 2022
There is no consensus on the topic of Ukraine in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
While the Bosniak and Bosnian Croat members of the tripartite Presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic and Zeljko Komsic, strongly condemned the Russian invasion, their colleague Bosnian Serb colleague in the institution, Milorad Dodik, has been arguing that BiH should remain neutral on the issue.
Their positions are also reflected among the population, so the Ukraine crisis has become an additional topic causing divisions in BiH.
While officials have stressed that there are no indications that the developments in Ukraine will result in destabilisation in BiH, analysts have warned that there is a possibility the crisis may spill over to the Western Balkans.
EUFOR has meanwhile doubled its troops in BiH “as a precautionary measure.”