Bosnian Serb government revives websites shut down over U.S. sanctions

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – The official websites of Bosnia’s separatist Serb Republic (RS) government have been reactivated after being shut down as part of U.S. sanctions imposed against its top officials, regional Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic said on Thursday.

The websites of the RS government, presidency, the civil service and the inspection administration were taken down last week but Viskovic said they had been shifted to neighbouring Serbia’s domain “.rs” and operational again.

“We were shut down by Americans,” Viskovic told news portal Capital on Tuesday. “Even though we have paid for it until February 2025, we were brutally switched off because of the U.S. sanctions imposed against the Republika Srpska President.”

Last month, Washington imposed sanctions on family members and the wider business network of Serb nationalist and pro-Russian RS leader Milorad Dodik, the separatist entity’s president who was already under U.S. and British sanctions for undermining Bosnia’s 1995 Dayton peace agreement.

The accords ended the 1992-95 Bosnian war in which 100,000 people were killed, dividing the Balkan country into two autonomous regions – the Serb Republic and the Bosniak-Croat Federation – linked via a weak central government.

Viskovic himself, along with three other top Serb officials including the Bosnian presidency’s Serb member Zeljka Cvijanovic, were placed under U.S. sanctions in July for facilitating the passage of a law that undermines post-war Bosnia’s constitution and the Dayton deal.

Viskovic told the regional parliament on Thursday that his government would sue a U.S. company that closed the websites without prior notification, but declined to name the company.

Nobody in the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo immediately responded to a Reuters request for comment.

Dodik has long advocated the secession of his Serb-dominated region from Bosnia and recently proposed the unification of “all Serb states” into one country comprising Serbia, Montenegro, and the Serb Republic.

The U.S. Embassy strongly condemned his “reckless statements”.

“The United States will not stand by idly while Mr. Dodik and his political cronies attempt to tear apart the fabric of Bosnia and Herzegovina, destabilize the country and the region, and impede BiH’s progress toward the European Union,” U.S. Ambassador Michel Murphy said in a statement this week.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; editing by Mark Heinrich)