News & Analysis

Controversial Russian writer barred from entering Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnian security services prevented Russian writer Zakhar Prilepin (whose real name is Yevgeny Prilepin) from entering the country on August 23. Mr Prilepin was travelling from the Serbian capital Belgrade to Banja Luka, the administrative centre of Republika Srpska (RS) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for a literary event.

Mr Prilepin published on Facebook a photograph of the document issued to him by the Bosnian border police, which states that he has been banned on grounds of national security. He added that he received the Ivo Andrić literary prize in Bosnia in 2017 in the presence of RS president Milorad Dodik. Mr Dodik said that denying entry to Mr Prilepin was “shameful, inadmissible, and directed against friends of Republika Srpska.”

In a statement, the Russian embassy in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo expressed “concern and deep disappointment” after the writer was turned back at the Rača border crossing between Serbia and Bosnia, adding that it has requested an explanation from the Bosnian Foreign Ministry.

Mr Prilepin is associated with Russian-backed separatists fighting against government forces in eastern Ukraine. Earlier this month, the Ukrainian government added Mr Prilepin to its list of people who pose threats to national security. In February 2017, the writer formed his own battalion in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic; however, five months later he decided to leave eastern Ukraine and go back to literature. Mr Prilepin has been a member of Russia’s unregistered National Bolshevik Party since 1996.

Photo: Zakhar Prilepin Official Facebook Page