Macedonian Parliament Speaker Trajko Veljanovski has announced the early parliamentary elections. Deadlines are running, the state has officially entered the pre-election period, a complex period, which according to him, will be a test for the parties, while the mandate will be returned to the citizens.
The decision on the elections also reached the State Election Commission (SEC). The members of the Commission have unanimously adopted the Timetable; the campaign begins on November, and the public inspection of the voters register on October 28, when those who were removed, about 30,000 disputable voters, will be able to once again prove they are not “phantoms”. Around 170,000 other voters who figure on the special list, will also have an additional obligation in signing up to vote. Registration has begun for voting on December 11, for Macedonian citizens living abroad, in diplomatic and consular offices of the country, through the application on the website of the SEC. Although it was mentioned the most, the Sixth electoral unit has remained unresolved, and according to estimations from constitutional experts, it could bring the legitimacy of the elections into question.
Experts warn, while politicians shrug their shoulders on the extra voters in the sixth electoral unit. Prime Minister Emil Dimitriev does not expect problems, since the parties have harmonized their different views. The political parties – participants in the election process, need to sign a code for fair and democratic elections. EU Ambassadors consider that the upcoming elections can pull Macedonia out of the political crisis, if they are fair and credible,
Parties focused on electoral calculations
The leader of the biggest opposition party, Zoran Zaev, stated that it is still early to announce the candidates for the electoral lists. SDSM is having talks and negotiations with political parties for establishing coalitions. According to Zaev, SDSM and the left and center parties, have formed a coalition with the citizens, and they will be represented on the lists. SDSM will hold a Congress on November 6, when the candidate lists for the upcoming elections will be presented.
VMRO-DPMNE spokesperson Ivo Kotevski, says that assessments are in progress as to which candidates will be on the lists. Currently, inter-party analyses are being performed, in order to have the best candidates seeking the support of the citizens, so that an optimum result can be achieved from the 63 seats.
Experts and political analysts do not exclude the possibility for VMRO-DPMNE to withdraw, and to not submit candidate lists, if it should assess that their rating is falling among the electorate, in a few weeks.
DUI leader Ali Ahmeti, stated that he does not believe that there will be activities that would harm the elections. DUI does not reveal whether they have drawn their lists yet. “This will probably be decided at the next Central Committee of the party”, stated Artan Grubi. There is no official information from DPA. DUI and Besa are leading among Albanian voters, as surveys have shown.
Special Prosecutor’s Office stands firm in the fight against crime
Special Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) has opened an investigation on the sale of the building plot in the “Soncev grad” neighborhood in Sopiste, Skopje. In the case titled “Toplik”, the SPO suspects six persons, among which is a former official in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, and additional five from the Procurement Committee. They are all charged for abuse of office, with which the Budget of Republic of Macedonia has been damaged by over a million euros.
Former Minister Mile Janakievski responded to this. He completely denies all of the allegations of the SPO. Former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, used to announce the then elite, and now failed project, as an investment “weighing” 100 million euros.
The SPO also suspects Minister Elizabeta Kanceska Mileska along with three other employees within the Ministry of Culture, for having damaged the state budget by a million euros, in the new case of “Tenders”.
According to the SPO, the suspects “arranged” the tender for construction of the Museum of VMRO, in favor of the shareholding company Beton – Stip. Minister Kanceska Milevska denied all accusations at a press conference, and accused the SPO for spreading party propaganda of SDSM.
The President of the Court Council, Zoran Karadzoski, held a press conference at which he said that the media and the SPO are putting pressure on the judiciary. Such a reaction follows the interrogation of the five judges of the Administrative Court in the SPO, which Karadzoski assessed as destroying the integrity of the judges. The SPO denied the allegations.
The Administration for Security and Counter Intelligence rises above the law?
Swedish firm “Ericsson” announced that it is not the owner, nor that it operates the surveillance equipment in the Administration for Security and Counter Intelligence (UBK), as a response to the demands of the SPO for technical assistance in the investigation that the SPO is carrying out in UBK. The Director of the Public Security Bureau and former Minister of the Interior, Mitko Chavkov, after the SPO entered UBK, claimed that the system is not owned by the MOI or the UBK, but rather that it is owned by the operator, and that only an unauthorized person from there can access this system. The SPO entered the UBK with two court orders: for providing documentation from special investigative measures (SIM) and data from the surveillance system. They collected part of the data, while for the other data it was decided to wait for an external expert, who should assist in the “extraction” of the data.
Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva faced serious obstructions from the management of the UBK. The culmination with which UBK demonstrated that she is appointed even above the law in Macedonia, is the act of the UBK forcing the SPO investigator out of the UBK building and obstructing their work. The position of the UBK, according to the SPO, was that SPO investigators are not allowed to be present in UBK because of the confidentiality of the functioning of the Administration. UBK rejected Janeva’s request for a duty investigator to keep the data until the arrival of the external expert, who can enable them access to data from 2008 to 2015. The Director of the UBK, Vladimir Atanasovski guaranteed that the equipment and systems are safe, in accordance to the regulations on classified information.
Minister of Interior Oliver Spasovski, stated that the detention of the SPO investigator was unfounded. Katica Janeva released the investigator from the “Beko” police station and took him to the SPO. However, the entrance gate of the MOI was closed. The Public Prosecutor and her team entered the Administration, but following a telephone intervention, Janeva was ensured by Spasovski that the Administration building would be secured, after which the SPO withdrew its investigators from UBK.
Former prosecutor Jovan Trpenoski says that every institution and physical entity must act upon the request of the court, while the MOI is a body that needs to be a service to the Prosecutor’s Office, and not the one obstructing it. The legal crisis has culminated, whereas the institutions have touched bottom, comment those who are highly experienced.
Prime Minister Emil Dimitriev, has finally responded to this drama that has been going on for an entire week, between the judicial and executive system in Macedonia. He said that the bodies of justice must stay outside the political struggle of the parties, and cannot leave an impression of political overtones. He also emphasized that the Government would give financial and logistical support to all bodies of justice.
CIVIL – Center for Freedom has once again expressed its strong support for the SPO, and a firm position for it to be provided with maximum conditions for the work and cooperation with other institutions to be complete and without obstructions.
Not only pressure, but also physical attacks on journalists
Instead of a more relaxed media atmosphere and greater security for journalists following the signing of the Agreement and annex to the Przino Agreement, the situation with the media is even more worrisome. While preparing for live news coverage in front of the UBK building, journalist Pavle Belovski from national television “Telma”, was physically attacked from behind with kicks and punches. The police who were nearby, immediately took the attacker into police custody. The Ministry of Interior filed a criminal charge against the attacker. Unions have reacted by strongly condemning this act. The Association of Journalists of Macedonia also condemn this act, along with the Independent Union of Journalists (SSNM) and the Council of Media Ethics.
The Agency for Audio and Audio Visual Media Services (AVMU) condemned the violence against the journalist. For the Agency, this act is a direct attack on the freedom of the media and on the public’s right to be informed. The Agency demanded for journalists and media representatives not to be obstructed in the execution of their professional task, which is exceptionally important in these social moments.
In times when the media space in Macedonia is limited for truthful, objective and balanced information, a court case is being led against journalist Zoran Bozinovski, one of the accused in the case “Spy”. The first trial is postponed for November 10, upon the request of the new representative of Bozinovski.
Three years have passed since journalists of Macedonia were brutally prevented from holding a peaceful protest for the release of journalist Tomislav Kezarovski, in front of the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle for Statehood and Independence, by strong police forces. Kezarovski was sentenced to 4.5 years’ prison for allegedly revealing the identity of a protected witness.
Politicized celebration on the Day of the Macedonian Revolutionary Struggle
VMRO-DPMNE at a politicized celebration marked the national holiday October 23 – the Day of the Macedonian Revolutionary Struggle, which it introduced during its years of ruling. The President of the state, Gjorge Ivanov, on the occasion, called “on behalf of our heroes from the past and of the future, for us to reconcile and unite”. Former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said that the “struggle from 123 years ago is now a fight for progress and prosperity’.
The LDP announced that after the elections they would request for the prefix VMRO to be deleted from the name of the political parties. According to LDP, the VMRO prefix is now being usurped by political parties, which want to seize the benefits of the famous organization from the past for themselves, even though they have nothing in common with its goals and traditions.
The pro-democratic Macedonian public, which has been making efforts for the VMRO prefix to be deleted from the names of the parties, considers this year’s celebration of the Day of the Revolutionary Struggle as hypocritical and a perfidious act of the government, in times when due to the policies of VMRO-DPMNE, Macedonia is in a deep political and financial crisis, whose consequences are suffered by the citizens.