Authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina have barred Russian writer Zakhar Prilepin from entering the country, triggering an angry reaction from Bosnian Serb leaders and Russia’s embassy in Sarajevo.
In a statement on August 23, the embassy expressed “concern and deep disappointment” after Prilepin was turned back at the Raca border crossing between Serbia and Bosnia, adding that it has requested an explanation from the Bosnian Foreign Ministry.
Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said the ban on Prilepin was "shameful, inadmissible, and directed against friends of Republika Srpska,” Bosnia's predominantly Serb entity.
Prilepin said he had been due to attend a literary event on August 24 in Banja Luka, the administrative center of Republika Srpska.
He told Russia's state-run Sputnik news agency that when he tried to cross the border at Raca, he was presented with a document saying he was barred from entering Bosnia because he "represents a threat for the security and international relations” of the country.
Prilepin is associated with Russia-backed separatists that are fighting against Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine.
The Russian writer said he thinks the entry ban may be linked to his involvement in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Bosnia’s Intelligence and Security Agency reportedly issued an entry ban against Prilepin in March, citing security concerns.
Fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces in Ukraine’s eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk has killed more than 10,300 people since April 2014.
Bosnia is split into two entities: the ethnic Serb-dominated Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation of Bosniaks and Croats. The two entities are linked by joint state-level institutions, including a tripartite presidency.