Bosnian Serb leader bans international peace envoy from entering his region

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik meet in Moscow

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Bosnian Serb separatist leader Milorad Dodik said on Thursday that police in Bosnia's Serb-dominated region have been instructed to arrest and deport an international peace envoy if he enters the Serb Republic.

Bosnian Serbs say they do not recognise German government ex-minister Christian Schmidt as Bosnia's international High Representative because he was not endorsed by the U.N. Security Council.

The post of the international envoy was drawn up in the Dayton peace accords that ended Bosnia's devastating war in the 1990s to oversee peace in the Balkan country, split into two autonomous regions - the Serb Republic and the Federation dominated by Bosniaks and Croats.

Dodik, who is president of the Serb Republic, has long advocated the secession of the Serb-dominated region from Bosnia.

"The instruction has been sent to the field today," Dodik said at a news conference held along with Bosnia's Security Minister Nenad Nesic, a Serb, who supported his initiative.

On Wednesday, announcing the ban, Dodik said: "If he comes to a meeting in Republika Srpska (Serb Republic), he will be thrown out. As soon as the police find out that Schmidt is in Republika Srpska, their task will be to organise a unit to expel him."

Schmidt's office did not immediately comment.

In July, Schmidt, who has powers to impose laws and sack officials seen as obstructing peace, revoked two laws signed by Dodik which suspended decisions made by Bosnia's constitutional court and by Schmidt.

In August, Bosnia's prosecutors charged Dodik and another official with defying the High Representative's decisions, an offence punishable by up to five years in jail.

In response, Dodik's supporters last week organised protests across Bosnia at administrative boundaries between the two regions, waving flags featuring Russian President Vladimir Putin and further raising ethnic tension.

Pro-Russian Dodik has been taking steps to separate the Serb Republic from Bosnia since 2021 but had to halt activities due to the war in Ukraine.

The European Union and Germany have halted funding of projects in the Serb Republic over his policies but Dodik said he would turn to other countries, such as China, for investment.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Nick Macfie)