It seems that our initial assessment that the post Sunday October 2 elections Orange Revolution unleashed in the Republic of Srpska was floundering was a bit premature, as much as was the opposition’s triumphant parade on election night, before the votes were even counted. Realistically, had it depended entirely on the political resources and acumen of the locals the affair very likely would indeed have fizzled out. The important component of the larger picture that we did not fully credit, however, was the crucial input of the foreign factor, to which the opposition is beholden. It seems that the aggrieved opposition parties’ leaders who presented themselves at the British Embassy in Sarajevo on Monday morning after the polls closed were not merely paying a courtesy call on their sponsors. They went there to talk orange revolution logistics, as subsequent events strongly suggest.
After a few days of inaction, the Western backed opposition organized two protest rallies in Banja Luka, Republic of Srpska’s largest city, announcing its intention to challenge alleged voting irregularities and demand a recount. Curiously, throughout most of the post-election week, Bosnia’s Central Electoral Commission [CIK] did not just maintain radio silence on the alleged fraud but was even issuing calming statements that vote counting was in progress and everything seemed regular. Then, on Monday October 10, it dropped a bombshell: it ordered a recount, the very step that throughout the previous week it was claiming was not a viable option.
Oddly, or perhaps not, the recount order affected only balloting for President and Vice-President of the Republic of Srpska, the voting for all other offices in CIK’s opinion presumably having been squeaky clean.
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out the target and the beneficiary of this selectively formulated remedial measure. The target is Milorad Dodik, whose public predilection for Russia has earned him over the years the furious enmity of the collective West and its regime change detachments, particularly now, in the context of the geopolitical exigencies generated by the Ukrainian conflict. The none too discretely designated beneficiary is Jelena Trivić, Dodik’s opponent in the race for President of the Republic of Srpska, the candidate of the Western-sponsored opposition.
Admittedly, in our previous analysis we erred in projecting Mrs. Trivić’s assigned role as that of the Bosnian Juan Guaido. As the Republic of Srpska operational script becomes more intelligible to us, it is clear that her assigned role model is not Guaido but Belorussia’s Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, for all that may be worth, and probably not much.
Evidently, it had taken several days for the practical details of the 2022 orange revolution scenario to be worked out. If the initial bet was that electoral fraud allegations alone, without more, would motivate large numbers of angry protesters to pour into the streets and overthrow the government, that soon proved insufficient to provoke a major commotion. Opposition rallies turned out to be disappointingly anaemic. Emphasis therefore had to be shifted from rhetorical incitement in the streets to an attempt to obtain some formal and hopefully institutional backing for Mrs. Trivić’s electoral fraud case.
The initially reticent CIK, with its seat in Sarajevo – a venue notoriously unfavourable to anything to do with the Republic of Srpska – was therefore activated to lend much needed credence to the fraud allegations.
The result, obtained with helpful pressure exerted by major Western embassies and the disputed High Representative Christian Schmidt, who had just recently meddled in Bosnia’s electoral regulations and intimated he might use his bogus “Bonn powers,” was the extraordinary order for the targeted vote recount. That was exactly what the Western-sponsored opposition thought it needed to give additional impetus to its faltering street agitation.
CIK’s abrupt and under the circumstances extremely politically charged decision to order a recount was sharply criticised by Banja Luka constitutional law professor Milan Blagojević in a recent legal analysis. Prof. Blagojević pointed out glaring anomalies in CIK’s accommodating decision. Contrary to what Bosnia’s law provides, it did not wait for the vote counting process to be completed before considering remedial measures. Nor did it, as the law also requires, wait to receive documented allegations of voting irregularities before presuming to act. In fact, the oddly worded electoral commission order makes no pretense of being based on any serious proof of alleged irregularities, relying rather on “media reports” that they might have occurred. This extraordinary approach to the gathering of probative evidence reproduces to a remarkable degree a technique frequently employed by the Hague Tribunal, which in several judgments similarly cited media sources as reliable proof in convicting various defendants.
We shall soon find out whether CIK’s hasty turn-around will suffice to galvanise the required level of outrage to make a real political difference.
But the larger picture must always be borne in mind. Regime change in the Republic of Srpska has been for the West a continuous political project for at least the last ten years. The immediate objective, of course, is simply to drive Dodik out of office, but the more essential goals are to eviscerate the pesky Serbian entity and then subsume it under a greatly strengthened but fully subservient central government in Sarajevo, in the process undermining clear provisions of the Dayton peace agreement which grant entities broad autonomy.
While there is nothing essentially novel in these machinations aimed against the Serb Bosnian entity, the Ukrainian conflict and the theoretical prospect of a direct clash involving NATO powers has given them additional urgency, and for roughly the same strategic reasons that animated Hitler immediately prior to the attack on the USSR in 1941. The aggressor must secure his rear if the plan to open an Eastern front is to have a reasonable chance of success. Viewed from that angle, it is difficult to imagine that Serbia’s turn will not come soon to also become fully integrated within the NATO axis. Not that it isn’t comparatively much further along that road than Bosnia, whose “progress” in this regard is impeded by the recalcitrant Republic of Srpska. But in a serious global conflict much more would be required of Serbia than what its current psychotic elite, more kleptomaniacal than maturely focused on fulfilling its geopolitical tasks, is capable of delivering. That is why, just as in the Republic of Srpska, in Serbia also a reserve team of subservient toadies is waiting in the wings, virtue signalling its fealty by advocating the immediate imposition of sanctions on Russia, and chomping at the bit for their paymasters to install them.
After two rather spectacular failures, in 2014 and 2018, to successfully exploit favourable conditions and seize power, and still plagued by incompetence and total lack of charisma, the foreign-directed opposition in the Republic of Srpska is not a sure bet to triumph this time around. But while they may be comfortably underestimated, the determination of the collective West to settle Bosnian matters before moving on to the other side of the Drina River, to rearrange to its complete convenience matters in Serbia proper, should not be.