Rama’s ‘Visa Ban’ Threat Backfires with Dako

In May, Prime Minister Edi Rama threatened anyone who “touches” the elections with removal of the “right to enter the US and EU […] forever.”

Not everyone knows that the Penal Code is very strict in this regard and that it isn’t worth burning yourself for the most criminal politics that urges you to walk with your own feet into hands of justice, which can even lead to being put on the black list of those convicted for electoral crimes, whose right to enter the US and EU will be removed forever.

This threat was clearly directed to the opposition, which had rallied behind the decree of President Ilir Meta to cancel the June 30 local elections. The threat was empty, as the Penal Code does not allow any punishment that bans Albanians from leaving the country.

It is therefore ironic that not an Albanian citizen protecting their democratic right to vote, but long-term ally of Prime Minister Rama and former mayor of Durrës Vangjush Dako has been banned from entering the United States “due to involvement in significant corruption.”

At the moment of this writing, Dako is still a free man, as his case has been dragging along under the management of “Temporary” General Prosecutor Arta Marku. Nevertheless, it has been public knowledge at least since November 2017 that wiretaps existed linking Dako to Albanian organized crime. In January 2019 it turned out that Dako was closely involved with vote buying and voter intimidation practices of the Avdylaj gang during the 2017 general elections. Further wiretaps were published by German newspaper Bild, implicating Dako in a large criminal network set up by the Socialist Party to rig the 2017 elections. None of the main actors in any of these cases have been arrested.

As a mayor of Durrës, Dako has been responsible for large-scale destruction of archeological heritage dating to the Late Antique and Byzantine ages, under the guise of an “urban regeneration” that has sucked up millions of euros in public money. The main project, called Veliera, was granted to the architecture firm of Marco Casamonti, who in Italy has been convicted for fraud. Casamonti is close to the Rama government, being responsible for the bankrupt 4Evergreen Tower and the National Arena in Tirana.

Prime Minister Rama has so far remained silent on the decision to ban his ally from entering the United States.