US sanctions against Western Balkans figures citing ‘threat to regional security’ – POLITICO

The United States sanctioned seven people in the western Balkans on Monday, including former leaders of North Macedonia and the short-lived state union of Serbia and Montenegro, vocation they pose a “serious threat to regional stability”.

Those targeted — by Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia – have been added to the list of specially designated nationals maintained by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). This means their assets are frozen, US citizens are generally banned from trading with them, and they are also banned from entering the US

“The individuals appointed today pose a serious threat to regional stability, institutional confidence and the aspirations of those seeking democratic and sound governance in the Western Balkans,” called Treasury Department Assistant Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson in a statement.

Among those listed is Svetozar Marović, the last president of the former State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, which dissolved in 2006. Marović was also deputy leader of the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro until 2015, when he was arrested for his involvement in corruption scandals related to construction projects. He admitted the charges and signed two pleadings, but before serving his sentence, fled to Serbia, where he now resides. Montenegro’s government has been demanding his extradition from Belgrade since 2019.

North Macedonia’s former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski is also mentioned. Gruevski was convicted by a court in his country on corruption charges but fled and was granted asylum in Hungary, which the US Treasury Department said “represents a serious setback to accountability for corruption and corruption-related activities in North Macedonia.”

OFAC also named Gruevski’s former counterintelligence chief Sašo Mijalkov, who, according to the Ministry of Finance, was accused of involvement in an election fraud and an illegal wiretapping operation against opposition politicians, judges and journalists, “the political and economic year political crisis in the country.”

From Albania, the list includes former MP Aqif Rakipi and media mogul Ylli Ndroqi, who accuse him of using his outlets to “blackmail and blackmail Albanian citizens”.

They also include Asim Sarajlic, a member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliament, and the country’s former Attorney General Gordana Tadic. US sanctions against Western Balkans figures citing 'threat to regional security' - POLITICO

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