The US Department of State blacklisted the former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and Sasho Mijhalkov, the former Director of UBK (Home Security and Counterintelligence Administration of the Republic of Macedonia), in response to their participation in major corruption processes in the Republic of Macedonia (now Republic of North Macedonia). This effectively bans them from entering the US.
In addition, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has imposed economic sanctions, on both Gruevski and Mijalkov, together with five other individuals from four countries in the Western Balkans.
According to the State Department, the actions of Gruevski and Mijalkov undermined the rule of law, democratic institutions, and public processes in both countries and eroded the public’s faith in their governments. Apart from Gruevski and Mijalkov, the US Department of State also blacklisted the immediate family members of Nikola Gruevski and SAsho Mijalkov ineligible for entry into the United States.
Apart from them, the State Department sanctioned also the former chief prosecutor of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gordana Tadić.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 14033 designated the Hungarian company I.C.I.C. KFT, which is registered as a limited liability company in Pecel, Hungary, of which Gruevski is an owner and a director.
Gruevski was designated pursuant to E.O. 14033 for being responsible for or complicit in, or for having directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption related to the Western Balkans, including corruption by, on behalf of, or otherwise related to a government in the Western Balkans, or a current or former government official at any level of government in the Western Balkans, such as the misappropriation of public assets, expropriation of private assets for personal gain or political purposes, or bribery.
Explaining its decision, the Department of State, stated that apart from the corruption, Gruevski used political influence and official power for personal benefit.
“In his official capacity as prime minister, Gruevski was involved in corrupt acts that included using his political influence and official power for personal benefit. Specifically, there is credible information that Gruevski abused the power of his office to solicit and accept bribes in return for government contracts, misappropriated public funds, and interfered in electoral processes to benefit himself and his party politically.”, reads the designation by the US Department of State.
Regarding Mijalkov, the explanation stated that as In his official capacity as Director of the UBK, Mijalkov was involved in corrupt acts that included using his political influence and official power for personal benefit. Specifically, there is credible information that Mijalkov abused the power of his office to solicit bribes in return for government contracts and interfered in electoral processes to benefit himself and his party [VMRO-DPMNE] politically.
Otherwise, Gruevski and Mijalkov are first cousins and both have been sentenced to several years in prison.
Nikola Gruevski, as President of VMRO-DPMNE before being sentenced, fled to Hungary where he received asylum from Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban, who has close ties with Russia and Vladimir Putin.