Get the big news as it happens – straight to your email.
The United States on Thursday included 10 individuals in a new round of sanctions aimed at curbing Russian influence in the Western Balkans, the US Treasury Department said.
Also sanctioned are 20 companies and organizations, including 11 based in Russia, under a 2021 US presidential executive order related to the Western Balkans and Russia. Others sanctioned are based in North Macedonia, Liberia and the United Arab Emirates. Three oil tankers registered in Liberia were also listed.
The sanctions related to the Western Balkans are the latest imposed by the US on politicians, other individuals and organizations aimed at undermining Russian efforts to prevent the region’s integration into international institutions, the Treasury Department said. The sanctions freeze all property and other assets that the attackers have in the United States or controlled by US citizens and generally prohibit Americans from doing business with them.
Those hit by the sanctions are persons from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia.
Among them is Ratka Kunoska Kamcheva, related to Yordan “Ortse” Kamchev, who also has Bulgarian citizenship, was particularly close to Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who fled to Hungary, and was already sanctioned by Washington for corruption. The companies Kamcev Konsulting Skopje DOOEL and Orka Finanve related to it were also punished. Sergey and Irina Samsonenko, also citizens of North Macedonia, are on the list because of their connection to Kamchev, as well as the Skopje-based Bet City International DOO and Kamchev’s Orka Holding.
Also included is Savo Cvietinovic, a senior official in the political party led by Milorad Dodik, the pro-Russian leader of Republika Srpska (RS), which is already under US sanctions for alleged corruption and promoting the secession of the Serb-dominated half of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- Tsvietinovic is the representative in Republika Srpska of a company owned by a former deputy chief of the Russian Air Force that “facilitated the illegal transfer” of Ukrainian-made helicopter engines to Russia, the statement said. Cvietinovic told the Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA that he suspected political motives behind the US sanctions and that the company he represented had legitimate business with Ukraine and Russia. He said he supplied spare parts for engines, not engines.
- Also in the crosshairs is Petar Jokic, Dodik’s industry, energy and mining minister, who signed an agreement with a Croatian counterpart to build a pipeline from Croatia to a Russian-owned refinery in the RS, the release said. Jokic’s Socialist Party said the sanctions were the “biggest blow” to the accords that ended Bosnia’s 1992-95 war “and future cooperation and dialogue” in the country.
- Dodik’s representative in Moscow, Duško Perović, was sanctioned for lobbying for meetings between Dodik and Russian President Vladimir Putin, serving as an intermediary between the RS government and an unidentified Russian billionaire and working for two of the billionaire’s companies, the Finance Ministry said. Perovich denied to SRNA that he was involved in any business in Russia and said his main duty was to lobby for the RS and Dodik and “if it is a sin for the Americans … I have no objection”.
In 2022, Dodik said that the United States was accusing him of corruption despite the lack of criminal proceedings against him.