A Miracle in Macedonia: wiretapping whistleblowers were reinstated today

Three years after they were fired, criminally charged and jailed for bringing down Macedonia’s corrupt prime minister, Gjorgji Lazarevski and Zvonko Kostovski are back at work today.

“There will always be a place for professionals in the ministry,” Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski told Lazarevski and Kostovski this morning as he reinstated them to their positions in the Security and Counterintelligence Administration.

It was while working at the Ministry in 2015 that Lazarevski and Kostovski documented the illegal wiretapping of 20,000 public officials, judges, activists, journalists and others viewed with suspicion by then-Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. After being convicted of corruption and sentenced to prison, Gruevski fled the country last month for Hungary, where he is being protected by Viktor Orbán.

 

Beginning with giving Lazarevski and Kostovski the Free Speech Award last March, Southeast Europe Coalition on Whistleblowers Protection have been campaigning non-stop for their reinstatement. Behind the scenes, we have spoken numerous times with the Prime Minister’s office, EU officials, US Embassy officials and many other people in Skopje and Brussels. “Oh, it’s you again,” some people said when I called. We did international and Europe-wide actions alerts targeting the current Prime Minister. We continually distributed articles and updates to officials, activists and media. With Transparency International Macedonia, we nominated Lazarevski and Kostovski for the Daphne Galizia Award for Journalists and Whistleblowers, for which they were finalists. Less than a month ago, we issued a joint press release calling for their reinstatement.

Today, it happened. “The publicity was crucial,” Lazareski said. “The pressure paid off.”

This is an amazing victory – not only for Lazarevski and Kostovski, but for a country that is working as hard as any country in Eastern Europe to turn away from the oppressive and vengeful tactics of the past, and join the EU as a fully functioning democracy implanted in justice and the rule of law.

 

20 December 2018

Southeast Europe Coalition on Whistleblowers Protection

 

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