EU blacklists two Serbs for supporting Russia and Belarus

The European Union on Friday announced sanctions against a controversial Serbian businessman and politician, citing his close ties to the regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

The Karić brothers, Bogoljub (L) and Dragomir (CL) with Belarusian President Lukashenko (R) in Minsk in 2015. (Photo: President of the Republic of Belarus, Licence)Bogoljub Karić’s name was added to the list of many people and entities sanctioned for its support for the Belarusian government, itself already designated for its support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Together with his family members, he developed a network of real estate companies in Belarus and cultivated a network of contacts with the family of Alexander Lukashenko,” reads the EU decision.

The EU noted that “in particular, he was closely associated with Dana Holdings and its former subsidiary Dana Astra, and he allegedly represented those entities in meetings with Lukashenko.”

Due to their close ties to Lukashenko and his inner circle, companies affiliated with Karić have been granted special treatment by the Minsk administration, including tax incentives and plots of land for real estate development, according to EU authorities .

Karic Express surprised by the sanctions and said he would challenge them legally.

The OCCRP and its partners – Belarusian Belsat and Serbian KRIK – published an investigation a year ago revealing that Lukashenko had sold around US$1 billion worth of prime real estate in Minsk to construction companies linked to the Karic family.

Several companies, all under the umbrella of the Karić family’s Cyprus-registered Dana Holdings, secured huge tax incentives and state resources in Belarus to finance the building, and received free land in the Belarusian capital Minsk by a presidential order. Ambitious construction projects never materialized.

EU authorities blacklisted the Karić family companies already in December 2020 and the United States followed suit in August 2021. The Karić family businesses have been described as “Lukashenko’s construction portfolio”.

However, Bogoljub Karić is not the only Serb added to the latest EU blacklist.

New fertilizer queen, Belgrade-born Aleksandra Melnichenko, was put on the list after her husband, Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, owner of major fertilizer producer EuroChem Group and coal company SUEK, transferred her property in order to avoid international sanctions against him.

The former Serbian model and singer replaced her husband in March “as the beneficial owner of Firstline Trust, managed by Linetrust PTC Ltd, a company which represents the ultimate owner of the EuroChem Group”.

“Therefore, she is associated with a leading businessman involved in economic sectors providing a substantial source of income to the government of the Russian Federation, which is responsible for the annexation of Crimea and the destabilization of Ukraine,” according to the EU document.

The EU also claims that Andrey, Aleksandra’s husband, “supports or implements actions or policies that undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, as well as the stability and security in Ukraine”.

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