U.S. Bans Entry To Officials Of North Macedonia, Kosova Over Suspicion Of Corruption

A former special prosecutor and a current presidential candidate in North Macedonia have been banned from entering the United States for their involvement in “corrupt acts” to benefit themselves.

Former chief special prosecutor Katica Janeva and presidential candidate Stevco Jakimovski, who is the mayor of the city of Karposh, are the two officials who have been blacklisted, the State Department said in a statement on March 18.

The State Department also banned Xhabir Zharku, the former mayor of the city of Kacanik in Kosova, from entering the United States.

“Their actions undermined the rule of law and the public’s faith in their respective governments’ democratic institutions and public processes,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in the statement.

The travel bans “reaffirm the U.S. commitment to supporting the rule of law and strengthening democratic institutions throughout the Balkans,” Miller said.

Janeva used her political influence and official power for personal benefit, Miller said, adding that there was credible information that she solicited and accepted a bribe to influence a prosecution under her purview.

Miller said Jakimovski and Zharku used their positions to interfere with procurement processes.

He added that the State Department also banned entry to the United States to the immediate family members of Janeva and Jakimovski, namely Jakimovski’s two adult sons, Goce Jakimovski and Damjan Jakimovski, and Janeva’s spouse and adult son, Venci Janev and Lazar Janev.

U.S. Ambassador to North Macedonia Angela Ageler said on X, formerly Twitter, that the decision to ban the three officials should come as no surprise.

“The United States will continue to name officials of any party, branch of government, or community engaged in significant corruption. The people of North Macedonia deserve justice and accountability from their institutions to stop the tide of criminal behavior and stem the cancer of corruption,” Ageler said.

Janeva is already serving a seven-year prison sentence for abuse of authority in a racketeering case. Her sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court in June 2022.

Jakimovski is the president of the Civic Option for Macedonia (GROM) party and intends to run for president of North Macedonia in elections scheduled for April 24. He handed over petitions carrying thousands of signatures to the State Election Commission on March 18.

Jakimovski was charged with corruption in 2019, including “abuse of an official position and authority” and “illegal construction.” He was accused of abusing his position in public procurement proceedings and other crimes related to privatization in North Macedonia.