Bosnian Serb Leader Battles Claims he Took Gold

Claims that Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik once took a kilo of gold from a Russian businessman are fuelling heat in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska.

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Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik is battling accusations that he took a kilo of gold as a donation from a Russian businessman.
The accusation, which he and the Russian embassy have dismissed, has created new turmoil on the already heated Bosnian Serb political scene ahead of the 2016 local elections. “Dodik has opened the gambit with his usual move, the referendum initiative, and the opposition is now responding with corruption allegations,” one Bosnian Serb official told Balkan Insight on Thursday.
The accusations came from Bosnia’s former ambassador to Russia, Gordan Milinic, who said that during a meeting in Russia several years ago with a Russian businessman, Dodik accepted a gift a kilo of pure gold. Milinovic, who was reportedly present at the meeting, told the media that Dodik accepted the gold and had said he would give it to his grandson who just born at that time. Milinovic in past years was close to both main Bosnian Serbian parties, Dodik’s governing Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, and the leading opposition party, the Serbian Democratic Party, SDS.While Dodik has often been accused of involvement in corruption, this is the first time in years that he has been accused publicly by a named official. He was tried for misuse of office during his first mandate between 1998 and 2000, but was acquitted.
On Wednesday, Milinic gave his almost six hour-long testimony about this incident to the office of Bosnia’s state prosecutor, yet the prosecutors have not indicated whether they plan to launch a legal case against Dodik because of this or not. Dodik and Russian embassy in Bosnia have both denied that gold was ever given to Dodik and accused the Bosnian Serb opposition of running a smear campaign against him. Several media organizations considered close to Dodik said the allegations dated back a year and were only being renewed now by opposition parties, acting on the urging of “one Western embassy”. They said it was all a plot to force Dodik to back away from his initiative to call a referendum challenging the authority of state and international institutions.
Dodik himself called the accusation “completely repugnant” and warned that he might press charges against Milinovic. “The current insinuations appear to be an attempt at a personal quarrel and the harassment of political opponents,” a Russian embassy statement said. However, one senior Bosnian Serb official said the opposition planned to launch a legal offensive against Dodik that would lead to his investigation and trial, but that the plan was well known to Dodik, which explained his own recent offensive against state judiciary.

Balkan Insight

01 October 2015