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Tue May 21, 2019, 09:02 AM

Meet the Texas law firm acting as a foreign agent for Russia's ally in the Balkans

Republika Srpska's government is run by a party helmed by a man sanctioned by the United States. McGinnis Lochridge is helping it.

Casey Michel
May 21, 2019, 8:00 am

For the past decade, Republika Srpska — a region of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) — has been governed by the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, or SNSD, a Serb nationalist party that advocates upending the hard-fought stability the Balkans have enjoyed for the past two decades. The party’s head, Milorad Dodik, has not only grown close to the Kremlin over the past few years, but he’s steered BiH closer to outright disintegration than any point in the past two decades.

In the process, Dodik — who was recently described by one regional analyst as potentially “one of the most dangerous men in Europe” — was, in the waning days of President Barack Obama’s administration, specifically sanctioned by the United States. (The Trump administration has not removed these sanctions.)

Dodik recently moved on from running Republika Srpska, ascending to Bosnia’s three-person presidency and leaving the region governed by one of his SNSD underlings. But now, Republika Srpska has a new partner: McGinnis Lochridge, a Texas-based law firm that recently registered as a foreign agent working on behalf of the regional government.

According to a filing in the Department of Justice’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) database earlier this month, McGinnis Lochridge signed an agreement with the Republika Srpska government to provide legal advice, as well as potentially helping liaise with “various U.S. executive branch officials, officials of U.S. government agencies, and members and staff of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives[.]” McGinnis Lochridge will also “maintain” a website regarding BiH issues. The contract, which began May 6 and will run through the end of the year, notes that McGinnis Lochridge will make some $80,000 per month from the deal.


Mujanovic, though, sees the latest agreement with McGinnis Lochridge as part of a broader pattern of Republika Srpska’s — and Dodik’s — lobbying efforts in the U.S.

“[Dodik] both believed the Trump administration was an opportunity to receive a ‘fair hearing’ for his ethno-nationalist, Russian-aligned views — and that he was then stunned by the imposition of sanctions by the Treasury Department and the State Department,” Mujanovic told ThinkProgress. “The stress that he is putting on Bosnia state institutions and society more broadly is doing really damage not just to Bosnia, but the whole of the still very volatile Western Balkans.”

“It’s unconscionable to think then that this man can be under U.S. sanctions but still be allowed to legally attempt to influence U.S. policy,” he said.

This is just plain fucked up......................

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