US Sanctions Seven People as “Serious Threat” to Balkan Stability

The United States sanctioned seven people in politics, media and justice in the Balkans on Monday, calling them a "serious threat to regional stability" and the cause of democracy.

The individuals - from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia - were "designated" by the US treasury department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, OFAC, meaning their assets are blocked and US persons are generally prohibited from dealings with them.

They include Albanian former MP Aqif Rakipi of the Justice, Integration and Unity Party, PDIU, whom OFAC described as having ties to organised crime in the city of Elbasan and nominating "cronies to key public positions in Elbasan and Tirana," the capital.

Rakipi lost his seat in 2018 under a law to bar convicted criminals from holding public office, but his 27-year-old son, Orlando, entered parliament following the last election a year ago on behalf of the ruling Socialist Party.

Also in Albania, OFAC designated media owner Ylli Ndroqi, accusing him of using media outlets formerly under his control to "extort and blackmail Albanian citizens through demands for money and advertising purchases in exchange for withholding publication of negative media stories."

Special prosecutors seized Ndroqi's assets, including TV Ora, in 2020 on suspicion his wealth was based on the drugs trade.

Gruevski, Mijalkov, Marovic…

Also on the list is Svetozar Marovic, the last president of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, which dissolved in 2006, and once a close ally of current Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic.

Marovic is currently in Serbia, where he fled to avoid a prison sentence for corruption on the basis of two plea bargains he agreed with...

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