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UK sanctions 2 Bosnian Serb leaders accused of undermining peace

The British government on Monday announced sanctions against two Bosnian Serb leaders for undermining peace and security in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the wider Balkans region.

Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian Serb member of the country's tripartite Presidency Council, and Zeljka Cvijanovic, the president of the Serb entity Republika Srpska, have both been sanctioned with travel bans and asset freezes for their destabilizing activities in recent months.

"These two politicians are deliberately undermining the hard-won peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Encouraged by (Russian President) Putin, their reckless behavior threatens stability and security across the Western Balkans," Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.

"With these tough sanctions, we are showing that the enemies of peace will be held to account," she added.

According to Downing Street, Dodik has threatened to withdraw Republika Srpska from key state institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and has increased the use of divisive, dangerous, and ultra-nationalist rhetoric that undermines the peace and stability established after the violent conflict that followed Yugoslavia's breakup 30 years ago.

Cvijanovic has exploited her office and position to table legislation in the Serb entity that would transfer state powers and laws to Republika Srpska, a move that would violate the Constitution and threaten to further divide the country. She has also publicly glorified Serbian war criminals while denying the genocide at Srebrenica.

"Emboldened by Russia's undermining of the international rules-based system, both individuals have used their positions of authority to push for the de facto secession of Republika Srpska -- one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s two entities -- in direct contravention of the country's constitution," said a government statement.

The UK accuses both Dodik and Cvijanovic of undermining domestic and regional harmony and encouraging ethnic hatred and division, as well as genocide denial that threatens to reignite ethnic divisions.

The government is working alongside the US and other allies to encourage other nations to follow suit and apply similar measures that will aim to prevent a return to conflict and violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the wider Balkan region.​

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