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Separatist Bosnian Serb Leader Refuses to Enter a Plea on Charges That He Defied the Top Peace Envoy

The separatist leader of the ethnic Serb mini-state within Bosnia on Monday refused to enter a plea on a criminal charge that he defied the top international envoy overseeing peace in the Balkan country.

Milorad Dodik, the president of the Serb entity who has pushed for secession, called the court in the Bosnian capital illegitimate and displayed contempt for the state of Bosnia, which went through a bloody war in the 1990s and is again facing possible disintegration.

Dodik said he didn’t understand the charges against him, partly because they were not written in the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet, and refused to stand up while they were read by a judge.

“This is a political process, this is a circus,” he said after the brief court session.

Dodik has refused to recognize the legitimacy of envoy Christian Schmidt, the head of the Office of High Representative in Bosnia, which has the authority to change laws and replace officials who undermine peace. Dodik claims that Schmidt, a German politician who has served in the role since 2021, wasn’t legally installed.

Dodik had earlier this year threatened to arrest and deport Schmidt if he enters the Serb-controlled regions of the Balkan state. Dodik’s supporters have staged protests to back their leader.

Dodik, a pro-Russian politician, has sought to present the charges against him as an attack on the Serb entity in Bosnia, which is called Republika Srpska and comprises about half of the country of some 3.2 million people. The other half is run by Bosnia’s Bosniaks, who are mainly Muslim, and Croats.

Bosnia’s two ministates were established in a U.S.-brokered 1995 peace deal that ended ethnic carnage in which more than 100,000 people died and millions were displaced. A shaky peace has persisted since then, but ethnic divisions remain deep and tensions recently have escalated.

Dodik has constantly called for the separation of the Serb entity from the rest of Bosnia, undermining Western efforts at stability in the Balkans. He has faced U.S. and British sanctions for his policies but has had Russia’s support.

The war in Bosnia erupted in 1992 after Serbs rebelled against Bosnia’s independence from the former Yugoslavia and launched a land grab to form a state of their own that they aimed to join with neighboring Serbia.

Source : Independent