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U.S. Rejects 'Appalling' Bosnian Election-Meddling Claims


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (left) and Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik shake hands after their meeting in Banja Luka on September 21.

The U.S. Embassy in Bosnia-Herzegovina has rejected "appalling accusations" that Washington has sought to interfere in the country's elections next month, and blasted "irresponsible actors" who are dragging the United States into "conspiracy theories, unfounded accusations, and lies."

In a statement posted on its website on September 27, the embassy says the United States does not back any candidate or party, and refuses to be part of a preelection "manipulation."

During campaigns ahead of the national elections set for October 7, the public discourse has been "entirely dominated by fear-based rhetoric" that has created a "very poisonous atmosphere," the statement says.

It criticizes "self-centered politicians" who try to turn the United States and other countries into "adversaries," instead of addressing the country's "real enemies" -- corruption, unemployment, and poor public services.

The statement did not name any politician or political party, but Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik has accused the United States and Britain of supporting his opponents and seeking to influence the outcome of the upcoming elections.

Dodik, who is running for the Serbs' seat in Bosnia's tripartite presidency in the elections, said on September 27 that Washington and London have secured millions of euros to finance various opposition groups in the country's predominantly Serbian entity, Republika Srpska.

The pro-Russian president of Republika Srpska last month accused the United States of using its development agency to interfere in Bosnia's internal affairs and election process, a charge dismissed by Washington.

Western leaders have also accused Moscow of interfering in the internal affairs of Bosnia and other former Yugoslav republics.

During a visit to Banja Luka, the administrative center of Republika Srpska, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on September 21 that Moscow respected Bosnia's sovereignty and territorial integrity and was not interfering in the country's elections.

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.

With reporting by AP
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