Macedonia MPs Launch Illegal Surveillance Probe

Macedonian PM Nikola Gruevski, finance minister Zoran Stavreski and former interior minister Gordana Jankuloska will be first to appear the parliamentary commission probing mass illegal wiretapping.


The three officials, who are among those most implicated in the mass wiretapping that was revealed in February by the opposition, were proposed as the first witnesses to give evidence by MPs on the commission from Gruevski’s ruling VMRO DPMNE party.The opposition added three more names to the list of witnesses – Saso Mijalkov, the former secret police chief who is also Gruevski’s cousin, former Transportation Minister Mile Janakieski and the PM’s cabinet chief Martin Protugjer.  “All of them are to be questioned in the next two months, starting Monday,” said the chief of the 16-member commission, opposition Social Democrat MP Petre Shilegov on Thursday. The ruling party members of the commission demanded that all witnesses testify behind closed doors “due to the sensitivity of the topic”, so classified information is not revealed.

The formation of the commission, which is starting work after several procedural delays, was part of the EU-brokered crisis agreement reached this summer between the government and the opposition aimed at putting an end to the deep political crisis in the country with a series of urgent reforms and early general elections scheduled for April. The main task of the parliamentary commission is to pinpoint political responsibility for the scandal and for the alleged wrongdoings frevealed in the surveillance tapes released by the opposition.

In parallel, a Special Prosecution was also formed to probe the illegal surveillance cases and determine criminal responsibility. The commission has until the end of January 2016 to determine the chronology of events and the circumstances surrounding the surveillance scandal, and to decide who was responsible. It also has to chart recommendations to parliament about how to boost the transparency of state institutions in order to prevent illegal surveillance in the future.

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. The opposition says that the tapes contain incriminating evidence about 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.

Balkan Insight 

04 December 2015