The United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Serbia’s State Security and Information Agency (BIA) chief Aleksandar Vulin for “corrupt and destabilizing acts that have also facilitated Russia’s malign activities in the region,” on July 11, prompting a dismissive response from Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
“Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned an individual in Serbia pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 14033 […] the designation of Aleksandar Vulin (Vulin) underscores the United States’ determination to hold accountable those engaged in corrupt dealings that further their own political agendas and personal interests at the expense of peace and stability in the Western Balkans,” said a US Department of the Treasury release. “These corrupt dealings facilitate Russian malign activities in Serbia and the region.”
The release added that it had implicated Vulin in “transnational organized crime, illegal narcotics operations, and misuse of public office,” and that he had “maintained a mutually beneficial relationship with U.S.-designated Serbian arms dealer Slobodan Tesic, helping ensure that Tesic’s illegal arms shipments can move freely across Serbia’s borders.”
The sanctions effectively mean that US persons and institutions cannot deal with Vulin without risk of being hit by US enforcement actions.
Vucic remarked that he was hit in 1998 with the same sanctions but he “didn’t care,” as cited by the Organized Crime and Corruption Project (OCCRP). He also dismissed US Treasury allegations that Vulin was linked to drug trafficking while remarking on the fact that cocaine had recently been found in the White House.
He added that Vulin had been targeted due to his “attitude toward Russia” and that Serbian politics will be neither dictated by the US nor by Russia.
Photo of Serbian State Security Chief Aleksandar Vulin by mediaportal.vojvodina.gov.rs, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.