Russia blamed for rising Bosnia tensions
Russia is being blamed for stoking tensions in Bosnia and the Kremlin maintains strong ties with Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian-Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency.
Bosnia’s autonomous Republika Srpska enclave is establishing governmental institutions to challenge the Bosnian authorities. These include a sovereign judiciary and plans for separate armed forces. Dodik announced plans on June 6 to secede from Bosnia.
Germany reacted two days later by saying it will send troops to Bosnia for the first time in a decade, fearing growing instability.
Dodik met Russian dictator Vladimir Putin on June 18 to reaffirm Republika Srpska’s determination to boost trade and combat western sanctions against Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Putin praised Dodik’s efforts to prevent Bosnia from complying with anti-Russian sanctions.
During the 1992-95 Bosnian war there were 100,000 deaths in a country of 4 million.
Blocks of flats in Sarajevo built for the 1984 Winter Olympics are still pockmarked with holes, including large gaps left by rockets and shells.
Near the border with Serbia is Srebrenica where more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serbs in July 1995. Bosnian-Serb commander Ratko Mladic assured residents they would be safe but then ordered mass slaughter despite the deployment of United Nations troops.
One survivor said of his class of 44 pupils, only four survived.
Mladic is in prison for ordering genocide but he is still highly respected among Bosnian Serbs. In the nearby town of Bratunac, there is a room covered in hundreds of photos of Bosnian Serbs killed in the war.
Politician Vojin Pavlovic says the Srebrenica massacre was exaggerated and Mladic has been misunderstood.
“I believe that Ratko Mladic is a hero and that he is not guilty of what he was accused and convicted of. There was no genocide in Srebrenica,” Pavlovic said.
Ljubisa Cosic, mayor of East Sarajevo, told the media: “The dissolution of Bosnia Herzegovina will happen if this state continues like this. Bosniaks are always trying to have a centralised state. They want more and more. It’s not possible. We had a war because of that.”
Russia is blamed by many observers for destabilising the delicate balance in Bosnia.
“I love Russians more than Americans,” Cosic said. “We have a very, very strong historic relationship with the Russians and we believe in Russia.”
Bosnian Serb Republic Day parade in Banja Luka 2019. Observers fear violence could return to Bosnia. Picture credit: Wikimedia