Macedonian opposition leader accuses premier of massive wiretapping campaign

By bne IntelliNews February 10, 2015

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Macedonian opposition leader Zoran Zaev has accused Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of ordering a massive wiretapping campaign that targeted more than 20,000 Macedonian citizens.

The claims, made at a press conference in Skopje on February 9, are the first revelations made by Zaev about an incriminating dossier - dubbed “the bomb” - that opposition leaders say could bring down Gruevski’s government.

According to Zaev, Gruevski and his cousin Saso Mijalkov, director of Macedonia’s Administration for Security and Counterintelligence (UKB), ordered the wiretapping of journalists, religious and opposition leaders, according to a transcript on the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) website. Given Macedonia’s population of just 2mn, it targeted around 1% of the country’s entire population.

In the run-up to the April 2014 presidential and parliamentary elections, 24-hour reporting on opposition leaders was carried out, Zaev told journalists.

“From today the opposition SDSM will begin to tell the truth about Macedonia,” Zaev told the press conference. “The aim is unique - to restore freedom and democracy in Macedonia, to restore European values... This in the interest of the citizens and the state.”

He also indicated that more revelations would be forthcoming, telling journalists, “We will go step by step, because of the limited media space, because of the sensitivity of the evidence and the social situation, but citizens will learn the whole truth - to the end.”

The Macedonian government has not yet commented on the allegations.

Zoran and three others were charged on January 31 with plotting to overthrow the government after he threatened to release taped conversations he claims will discredit Gruevski’s administration. Former intelligence chief Zoran Verusevski, his wife and a local official from Strumica, an east Macedonian town where Zaev is mayor, were also charged.

Gruevski told a press conference on January 31 that he had held four meetings with Zaev between September and November 2014, during which the opposition leader threatened to publish compromising material from taped telephone conversations unless Gruevski agreed to the establishment of a technocratic government. Zaev told the prime minister that he had obtained recorded conversations of Gruevski and other top government officials in cooperation with an unnamed foreign intelligence service.

Opposition leaders have been calling for Gruevski to step down - and a technocratic government to be put in place pending snap elections - ever since Macedonia’s April 2014 parliamentary elections. The SDSM claims the elections, which resulted in a victory for Gruevski’s VMRO-DPMNE party, were rigged. Most SDSM MPs have boycotted the parliament since the election.

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