Protesting Macedonians Paint Foreign Ministry

On the twelfth night of anti-government protests, dubbed the “Colorful Revolution”, thousands of protestors wearing vibrant clothes threw paint balls on the Foreign Ministry building in the Macedonian capital of Skopje.


Macedonian Foreign Ministry | Photo by: BIRN

The Foreign Ministry building, recently built during the controversial government-funded Skopje 2014 revamp project, is seen as a symbol of former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s waste and policy failures.

The anti-government rally was organized by the civil movement “Protestiram” [“I Protest”] and supported by the opposition Social Democrats, SDSM.

Demonstrators throughout the capital are protesting President Gjorgje Ivanov’s decision to end criminal investigations against top politicians, largely from Gruevski’s ruling VMRO DPMNE party. They are also demanding the postponement of the June 5 elections, a date on which VMRO DPNNE insists.

Protesters chanted “Jail for Gruevski”, “No Justice, No Peace”, “Support the SJO”, [the Special Prosecution]. Members of the Association of WW2 Veterans also joined the protestors today. The protest started in front of the Special Prosecution building where demonstrators expressed support for the institution’s task of investigating high-level crime. After passing in front of the parliament and the Foreign Ministry, the rally ended in front of the government headquarters.

Earlier today, police arrested “Levica” party leaders Zdravko Savevski and Blagoja Kunovski and the recently-formed leftist party accused the VMRO DPNNE- led government of attempted intimidation.

Several hours after their arrest, the pair received eight days pretrial home detention. They are charged with participating in crowd violence during previous protests. A serious accident was avoided when wind toppled scaffolding just a few meters away from the crowd. The scaffolding was being used to remove paint from a previous protest off the façade of the government building. No one was injured.

The crisis in Macedonia revolves around opposition claims that the government formerly led by Nikola Gruevski was responsible for the illegal wiretapping of over 20,000 people, among other crimes.

Gruevski, who took power in 2006 and resigned as Prime Minister earlier this year under the terms of an EU accord reached last summer, claims that unnamed foreign intelligence services “fabricated” the wiretapping tapes and gave them to the opposition to destabilize the country.

Balkan Insight

25 April 2016