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News 25 Nov 15

Macedonia Probes Claims About ‘Forged' IDs

Macedonia's Interior Ministry says it is investigating allegations of the mass forgery of IDs, presumably intended for voting purposes, as the country gears up for April elections.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
Photo by: AP / Boris Grdanoski

Macedonia's new opposition interim Interior Minister, Oliver Spasovski, said the police organized crime department was investigating allegations that at least 30,000 fake IDs had been produced in time for next year's early elections.

They were allegedly produced at two secret locations, in the town of Stip and in the Skopje suburb of Shuto Orizari.

The weekly magazine Focus on Friday claimed a person whose identity it could not reveal had given them 105 fake IDs, which they later handed to the police.

“These IDs probably exist in several towns across Macedonia… We informed the prosecution and there is an order for an expert check on these cards to see if they are indeed fake, and if so, who made them,” Spasovski said.

Spasovski, who was appointed earlier this month from the ranks of the opposition, is tasked with leading the interior ministry in the government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski until the April elections.

The early elections form part of the EU-brokered crisis agreement reached this summer between Macedonia’s political leaders.

According to the magazine, the IDs it was given were of lower quality than originals but contained valid personal identification numbers that exist on the electoral roll. That means they could be used for voting.

Up to six fake ID cards it was given contain the same picture but different personal data, which could potentially enable one person to vote six times.

Ljubisha Arsic, the journalist who wrote the story, said that several things add to the validity of the claims, starting with the fact that the source “handed in 105 IDs, which the police inspectors could recognize as fake with a naked eye.”

He told Alsat M TV that the police seemed interested in the case and that he had a three-hour conversation with them while he was handing over the evidence.

The crisis in Macedonia revolves around opposition claims that covertly recorded tapes, which it has been releasing since February, show Gruevski was behind the illegal surveillance of some 20,000 people, including ministers. They insist that the tapes contain incriminating evidence against many high-ranking officials.

Gruevski, who has held power since 2006, insists the tapes were “fabricated” by unnamed foreign intelligence services and given to the opposition to destabilise the country.

The fresh allegations about the IDs follows old concerns about the country’s electoral roll. The opposition says large number of voters are registered on it as residing at the same address, where they do not appear to live.

In several elections in a row, the opposition believes that these so-called ‘fictive voters’ have been used to tip the results in the government’s favour, which the government denies.

Tapes containing illegally wiretapped conversations released by the opposition since the start of this year seem to back these claims, suggesting that Gruevski’s government has been using a wide range of election dirty tricks.

In December 2014, Fokus published video footage, which said it got from an anonymous citizen and appears to show an illegal passport-producing facility.

The police minister at the time, Gordana Jankuloska, dismissed it as opposition propaganda. Gruevski’s ruling VMRO DPMNN party has remained silent about the latest claims.

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