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News 06 Mar 15

Macedonia Tapes Reveal Blatant Election Trickery

New batch of bugged conversations feature Interior Minister discussing how to bus in foreigners to vote in Macedonian elections, the risks of sticking dozens of these ‘little people’ in one address and how she intends to ‘drag gypsies’ to polling stations.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

 

Macedonian Interior Minister, Gordana Jankuloska [centre] | Photo by: mvr.gov.mk

The ruling VMRO DPMNE party has orchestrated massive electoral fraud during the past elections, using fictive voters, fake ID cards, pressure on individuals and firms and misuse of police and administration, the opposition Social Democrats claimed on Friday.

Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's VMRO DPMNE used systemic blackmail and other wholly unconstitutional mechanisms to rig the elections, the head of the Social Democratic Party, Zoran Zaev, declared on Friday, unveiling the latest tranche of wiretapped conversations.

“From the tapes you can witness how the group in power [around Gruevski] has been rigging and stealing elections, a practice unprecedented anywhere in the world,” Zaev told reporters.

At a press conference, the opposition presented several groups of wiretapped conversations from the March 2013 local election involving what appear to be the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska, Transport Minister Mile Janakieski and other top officials.

In one conversation, Interior Minister Jankuloska appears to substantiate opposition claims made during the past elections - that VMRO DPMNE bused in ethnic Macedonians from the Prespa region of neighbouring Albania, issued them with ID cards and placed them temporarily in addresses in Macedonia until election day, when escorts took them to the polls to vote for the ruling party.

However, she voices concern about one “risky” detail, which is that many of these foreign nationals issued with IDs had been placed at the same address, which might be spotted.
“There is one risky thing which we knew, and that’s why we told the [local VMRO party] committees to give us more addresses,” she says.

“You know we have 50 people in a flat of 40 square meters. But it is what it is," she tells her interlocutor. “You know, when we were at the Prime Minister's, I insisted that the committees give more addresses, which they didn't do,” she adds.

In another conversation, Transport Minister Janakieski can be heard telling his interlocutor about people being brought from a town in Macedonia outside the capital to vote in the Skopje municipality of Gazi Baba.

  The ruling VMRO DPMNE's issued a press release after the opposition press conference:
  “Today Zoran Zaev continued publishing the created material which he got in collaboration with foreign intelligence services. Although there are confessions that tapping has been done illegally, for which one person was already sentenced to jail, Zaev and his supporters continue in their attempt to manipulate the public to believe that they received the created material from patriots and not from con men and foreign secret service collaborators who have fully confessed their guilt.”

The ruling party reminded their voters that in their nine years in power, they have created, they said, 120,000 new jobs, opened new roads, hospitals and schools and increased pensions, wages in the public sector as well as helped farmers with subsidies.

“Kire, these people who are in Gazi Baba from [the town of] Sveti Nikole, are they [registered] at one address or at several?” he asks.

“No, they have been dispersed,” the voice replies, to which Janakieski asks whether it is true that “about 15 of them reside at one address”.

In another conversation, a female voice reports to Minister Jankuloska about the overcrowded addresses where some of the people given fake IDs are temporarily residing. The two appear to arrange the checkups demanded by election observers, but using “our policemen”, so that no fraud is detected.

“They have reported 42 [voters] in one house, 44 in another one, in villages with 40 voters altogether. One house has 44, at some places there are 19, at some 22, at some 42... We are worrying if everything hits the media,” the voice tells the Interior Minister.

“They say the head of the administrative service is a commie [an abusive term for the Social Democrats]... We are under observation and I fear if they could engage the OSCE,” the same voice tells Jankuloska.

Jankuloska advises caution: “With every passing day, the pressure is getting bigger… We cannot have 40 people in a village of five voters... Let’s try to have more [such voters] but do it cautiously.”

Another conversation, Jankuloska cracks a joke about some the “little people” they have engaged to do carry out the voting fraud.

Macedonia's opposition leader Zoran Zaev ar a press conferrence | Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic

“These little people go and vote and remain silent, nodding with their heads... It's a loony bin but these little people do vote,” she can be heard saying.

“The little people enter and vote holding their hands - it’s a circus, a loony bin. Some of the media recorded them. I will go out now at 7 [for a press conference after voting] and say it was all quiet, there were no reports,” Jankuloska says, laughingly.

Another call portrays an alleged conversation between Prime Minister Gruevski and Transport Minister Janakieski during the first round of the 2013 local election.

After Janakieski reports that the ruling party is lagging behind the opposition in the Skopje municipality of Centar, Gruevski rejoins: “If we had now these Prespans, [people from Prespa in Albania] we would have finished the job.”

In another conversation, when Janakieski again reports that the ruling party is losing the election in Centar, Gruevski says: “Tell our people there to produce as many invalid ballots as they can. Wherever they can they should produce invalid ballots,” presumably so that another round is held.

Gruevski also appears to order the seizure or copying of local voting records from the polling stations, “so that we can judge [the vote] later”.

In another conversation, Jankuloska tells Janakieski that it is a routine practice for the police under her control to stop buses filled with opposition members in order to reduce their numbers attending opposition party rallies.

“Every time they have a rally we send their buses for technical checkups… We do this to all of them but especially to SDSM.”

Jankuloska also makes a racist-sounding remark about the Roma voters the party intends to “drag” to vote.

“In places where the result is tight, do not sign the electoral reports so that we can file complaints afterwards. Afterward, we will drag one gypsy after another by their ears and take them out to vote,” she says.

In a conversation between Janakieski and Martin Protugjer, the Prime Minister's chief of staff, the latter issues a blood-curdling threats about the then head of the Football Federation of Macedonia, who has not helped their party in the election by issuing free tickets for a football match.

Opposition insists Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski won 2011, 2013 and 2014 elections using fraud : Photo by: vmro dpmne

“If he does not give them [the tickets] by Monday, tell him that he and his wife and his children will end up in a ditch somewhere,” Protugjer says. “I will f..k that Communist faggot’s mother!” he adds.

The opposition began revealing the wiretapped conversations on February 9. Zaev alleged that the government had wiretapped over 20,000 people in the country of 2 million.

He said the eavesdropping had been orchestrated by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and the secret police chief, Saso Mijalkov.

Since then, the opposition has released further batches of tapped conversations, suggesting routine interference in the work of the courts, among other matters.

Gruevski, in power since 2006, has accused Zaev of collaborating with an unnamed foreign secret service to obtain the material.

He has also accused Zaev of trying to use the material to blackmail state officials in order to grab power. His passport has been confiscated. Zaev has denied collaborating with foreign intelligence, insisting that all the material came from sources in Macedonia's own intelligence services.

 

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