Transparency International (TI), a Berlin-based corruption watchdog, says it has been forced to close its offices in Bosnia-Herzegovina due to concerns for the safety of its staff after Republika Srbska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik accused them of graft.
"It is one of the few times in Transparency International's history that a national chapter has been intimidated to the point of having to suspend operations," Managing Director Cobus de Swardt said in a statement quoted by Reuters.Transparency International
said that "ongoing unwarranted and damaging attacks" in newspapers and on television and radio had escalated after Dodik echoed media allegations TI staff were involved in racketeering and organized crime.
On July 11, police said they had sent the state prosecutor a report alleging that three local TI officials had tried to bribe local businessmen. TI denies the allegations.
Transparency criticized Dodik last year for his role in opaque privatization deals in Republika Srbska, the Serbian entity in Bosnia.
Transparency said it was almost impossible for anticorruption watchdogs to operate anywhere Bosnia, which it called a "very dangerous place for voices of criticism calling for accountability and transparency in the work of ruling powers."