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News 10 Mar 15

Macedonia Opposition Reveals More Evidence of Election Fraud

Opposition leader calls on the government to resign after revealing new taped conversations that provide the strongest evidence provided so far of government-run fraud in elections.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

 

Opposition Social Democrats leader, Zoran Zaev | Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Macedonia's opposition Social Democrat leader, Zoran Zaev, on Tuesday called on the government to quit immediately after releasing new conversations between top officials of the ruling party about printing IDs, dispatching people across the country to vote, stealing election material - and even shutting down elevators so that elderly people cannot go to vote.

"This government has no more legitimacy," he said. "This government is no longer the Macedonian government. The government of Gruevski must resign immediately, Public Prosecutor Marko Zvrlevski must resign immediately and the managing team of the [public broadcaster]Macedonian Radio and Television should resign immediately!"

"We will not allow the destabilization of Macedonia. Gruevski, it is over!" Zaev added.

"We demand the formation of a interim government with a mandate to set conditions for free and democratic elections in Macedonia and ensure complete separation of ruling parties from the institutions," he continued.

The Social Democrats presented the latest material to several thousand people in the packed Universal Concert Hall in the centre of Skopje.

  VMRO DPMNE: The tapes are not authentic
  Right after the end of the opposition event, the ruling VMRO DPMNE in a press release said that the tapes presented by the opposition have been cut, edited and not authentic.

"Zoran Zaev and SDSM today showed that they want to blackmail Macedonia with created, edited, cut, glued time and again, shortened and altered telephone conversations without any authenticity", the press release reads.

"SDSMs' goal is to ruin the reputation of the country and to come to power without support from the citizens" the ruling party said adding that the opposition aims "to help their superiors bring Macedonia on its knees, in front of the demands and blackmails of the foreign centres who do not wish well to Macedonia.

The party said that "we will continue doing our job, attracting investors, building roads, repairing hospitals and schools, increasing wages pensions and social transfers, helping farmers..."

A large crowd outside, who could not get in, the hall followed the event on screens, while about 40,000 people watched live streaming of the event that was also aired by Alsat M TV.

One conversation featured the voices of secret police chief Saso Mijalkov and Transport Minister Mile Janakieski plotting to steal sealed electoral material between two rounds of an election.

Another, about printing ID cards, featured the Interior Minister, Gordana Jankulovska.

Tapes also concern conversations about dispatching fake voters across Macedonia, using dead voters' names for voting as well as confessions by the Interior and Finance Ministers that what the party is doing "is not right".

Others feature Transport Minister Mile Janakieski discussing how to prevent elderly people from voting on election day by instructing people from the power grid operator to cut the power to tall buildings so that their elevators do not work.

Jankuloska's voice is heard arranging revenge on a certain person involved in the elections. "The minute he makes a mistake he will be fired," Jankuloska says. Her interlocutor adds: "We should burn his restaurant".

Zaev on Tuesday issued a call for a "public, unbiased legal investigation [into the material] with the participation of the international community." Macedonia needed a strong prosecutor, he added, like the Italian, Giovanni Falcone, who took on the Sicilian mafia.

"Our security system has been shattered, all vital institutions are controled by a few people. The entire country works for those few people," the Social Democrat presidential candidate in the 2014 elections, Stevo Pendarovski, said.

"In Macedonia there is a dictatorship and the Macedonian people are against them. We have a well organized regime. We also an need organized democratic structure to oppose this," he added.

"Macedonia has never faced a greater challenge... The regime is on its knees but it is not defeated," he continued.

The Social Democrats presented the latest material to several thousand people in the packed Universal Concert Hall in the centre of Skopje | Photo by: Goran Rizaov

Other conversations showed the manipulation of elections involving the voting of army and police officials, and ministers arranging plane transport for VMRO DPMNE voters from the diaspora.

"This is a land of injustice where Nikola Gruevski and a few people around him rule and work for their own personal interests. We heard them in the tapes calling themselves criminals. We have filed criminal charges for all the crime allegations contained in the tapes but we do not expect legal resolution, at least not at the moment," the Social Democrats' secretary general, Oliver Spasovski, said.

Other tapes indicated use of pressure on employees in the public sector, including threats to fire them.

The opposition also presented a alleged taped conversation between secret police chief Saso Mijalkov and Transport Minister Mile Janakieski, which indicated that the main election HQ of the ruling party was located in the Transport Ministry.

Vlatko Mijalkov, a cousin of Gruevski, and Mile Janakieski, could be heard discussing how to put pressure on people in public institutions to vote for the ruling party - and get them to procure lists of 20 more voters for the party.

"We must work in the institutions," the voice of Mijalkov says, to which Janakieski replies that he had already done so in the bigger public enterprises.

One tape concerned a discussion of financial revenge on the family of the late pop singer Tose Proeski who died in a car crash in Croatia in 2007 at the age of 26.

  New charges against Zaev
  While the opposition event was taking place, the Interior Ministry held a press conference on Tuesday evening, declaring that opposition chief Zoran Zaev was suspected for taking a 200,000 euro bribe.  

Police spokesperson Ivo Kotevski said Zaev demanded bribes for the privatization of construction land.

Minister Mile Janakieski sounded angry that the sympathies of Proeski's family were not with the ruling party and called Culture Minister Elizabeta Kanceska Milevska to tell her to scrap the state aid that the family has been receiving.

"We should expel her from work, we should stop giving them 3,000 euro and close the museum [of Proeski in Krusevo]. What do you say?" Janakieski asks.

Social Democrat Vice President Radmila Sekerinska said the revelations had alarmed many people who could have not dreamed that such things were possible.

"But the truth has also freed us from the fake expectation that the evil will leave on its own. We know now that this is not the case. The truth gave us responsibility to look forward," she said.

"We are waging this battle and ask for support so that power becomes responsibility again... so that Macedonia starts speaking freely, so that the journalists can work freely and we [can] decide freely," she said.

"Macedonia must become a country where the rule of law is in force and where surveillance is an exception and not the rule. We do not want ministers who will swear each day about their good intentions but a government that will show those intentions each day through action," she added.

Opposition leader Zoran Zaev called on the government to resign | Photo by: Goran Rizaov

Zaev also accused Gruevski of plotting to frame him for alleged taking cash bribes "in the same way that Ljube Boskoski was framed".

In 2011, a court in Skopje jailed the politician for seven years for illegally financing his small party. However, the opposition has since revealed tapes alleging that he was framed by the secret police chief, Mijalkov.

The opposition began revealing its stash of wiretapped conversations on February 9. Zaev said the government had wiretapped over 20,000 people in the country of 2 million. He said the eavesdropping had been orchestrated by Prime Minister Gruevski and Mijalkov.

Gruevski has denied the allegations, insisting that the opposition obtained the material from unnamed "foreign secret services".

Gruevski and other ministers have not denied the authenticity of the published tapes, however, and have thus far refused to comment on their content.

 

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