Analysis of the News “The West overthrows Dodik?! Brussels and Washington are working on a complex operation!”

April 2022

As part of the Regional Initiative in Combating Disinformation “Western Balkans Anti-Disinformation Hub: Exposing Malign Influences through Watchdog Journalism”, we present you a new analysis of fake news and disinformation narratives.

The West overthrows Dodik?! Brussels and Washington are working on a complex operation! WzazLFVLvBWffXEzOGhzv7fD7p64uJnQOeXsmZJ2ZxRh4x7OLOLP8 opasno

The portal of the daily newspaper Informer conveyed the news that Brussels and Washington are creating a complex operation to overthrow the Serbian Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik. The Informer refers to Sputnik‘s unnamed sources close to the European External Action Service (EEAS).

It is further stated that the main reason for launching the operation is Dodik’s independent attitude regarding the situation in Ukraine, “the persistent resistance of Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, of which he is the leader, and the generally broad Serbian multi-party coalitions, that Bosnia and Herzegovina, at least partially, joins the Western sanctions against Russia”.

“The position taken by Milorad Dodik contradicts the orientation of the West to completely isolate Moscow from the entire European continent, as well as to submit the Balkans exclusively to Western interests, which include the elimination of the so-called external players – Russia and China,” the text states.

Based on an unnamed Sputnik source, Informer further writes that the plan is to launch a “black PR” campaign against Dodik, “with false accusations of corruption, in order to gradually undermine his reputation as a leader and protector of the Serbian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

In this part of the text, the narrative is “pushed” that Milorad Dodik has nothing to do with corrupt activities, but that it is only part of the general plan of the West to destroy the Serbian people in Republic of Srpska. However, US sanctions against Dodik from the beginning of January this year were imposed precisely because of corruption.

The doubling of the military contingent in EUFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina to 1,100 people is seen by this Serbian media as an instrument to instill fear in people of Republic of Srpska.

“Now that the Western countries have almost doubled the military contingent of EUFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and when they have transferred to the country additional military equipment that has begun to regularly appear on the streets and instill fear in residents, the future of Operation “Althea” with the mandate of the UN is under a question”, the text states.

All this, according to Informer, is happening at the expense of rights of Serbs, who are guaranteed equality and wide powers by the Dayton Agreement. “It is evident that Brussels and Washington want to ensure ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to create unacceptable conditions for the future life of Serbs and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to force them to leave. And to forcibly drag the country into NATO, to cut off communication with its original partners, and above all with Russia”.

It is true, however, that after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, EUFOR decided to activate 500 reservists. The reactions of a part of the political public in Serbia and Republic of Srpska to that news were harsh, but EUFOR’s assessment was that if reserve forces are sent to Bosnia and Herzegovina, they will “further discourage any forces, if they exist, that could destabilize Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

Also, Althea is EUFOR’s peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which involves a military deployment in Bosnia and Herzegovina to monitor the military implementation of the Dayton Agreement. It is a kind of successor of NATO and SFOR troops. By activating 500 reservists, the existence of Althea is not in question, as it is stated in the text without any argument. That this mission will continue to operate in Bosnia and Herzegovina is also indicated by the fact that its mandate was extended in November last year, and every year the UN Security Council votes on the mandate reauthorization of multinational stabilization forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and  a debate about it this organized every six months. The only one who has called for the withdrawal of Althea and international forces is actually the Serbian member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, Milorad Dodik.

In the text, without any evidence in a realistic political environment, it is stated that the West is working to destroy Milorad Dodik and therefore the Serbian people in the Republic of Srpska. Such narratives come from the Serbian media, and they are further taken over by the media in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which for more than a year has been, according to many analysts, in the biggest political crisis since the Dayton era. In such texts, the Serbian media refer to the sources of Sputnik, a media that is under the direct control of the Russian government, which present Russia and China in positive tones, and the West and the EU in negative tones.

Author: Sofija Popović