The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on seven people in the Western Balkans it accused of being a “threat to regional stability,” including Nikola Gruevski, who was prime minister of North Macedonia from 2006 to 2016.
Gruevski “has been convicted and remains a suspect in numerous cases of corruption, and has been accused of abuse of office, money laundering, and other offenses related to his time as the prime minister of North Macedonia,” a US Treasury Department statement said.
“He has continuously evaded capture for his 2018 conviction by a court in North Macedonia on corruption related charges, which represents a serious setback for accountability for corruption and corruption-related activities in North Macedonia,” the statement said, noting that he is “owner and director of Hungarian company I.C.I.C. KFT, which is registered as a limited liability company in Pecel, Hungary.”
The list also includes the last president of the short-lived state union of Serbia and Montenegro.
The US Treasury Department targeted Svetozar Marovic, who also served as former deputy president of the Montenegro Democratic Party of Socialists until 2015, and was arrested in 2015 by Montenegro authorities over suspected involvement in corruption cases relating to construction projects.
He signed two plea deals in 2016 admitting to all corruption charges against him, the department said, but fled to Serbia before serving his sentence.
The Treasury also imposed sanctions on Aqif Rakipi, a former MP from Albania, Asim Sarajlic, a member of the parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina and others in those countries as well as in North Macedonia.
“The people designated today constitute a serious threat to regional stability, institutional trust, and the aspirations of those seeking democratic and judicious governance in the Western Balkans,” Brian Nelson, the Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in the statement.
Monday’s move freezes any US assets of those designated and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.
The US State Department also issued visa bans against other political figures both in North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the department said, barring them from traveling to the United States. [Reuters, EKathimerini]