Where did “Gruevski’s” foreign secret services disappear?

 

A year and a half after the political crisis in Macedonia began, the “foreign secret services” disappeared from Gruevski’s speeches. The details revealed by the former Prime Minister on 31st January last year, were never explicitly mentioned again during his public speeches that followed afterwards (and there were plenty of them).

 

Author: Vlado Gjorchev

 

After the then Prime Minister, and current president of VMRO-DPMNE, Nikola Gruevski, on 31 January 2015 announced that an attempt for putsch was made via foreign secret services, such scenario, with conspiracy motives for wrecking the state from the outside with the assistance of “domestic” traitors, was mentioned only once more on 25 February 2015. Since then, almost a year and a half later, the foreign intelligence services disappeared from Gruevski’s speech. The details revealed by the former Prime Minister on 31st January last year were never explicitly mentioned again during his public speeches that followed afterwards (and there were plenty of them).

 

DRAMATIC PRESS CONFERENCE

During the dramatic press conference, that lasted for 6 minutes and 49 seconds, in which Gruevski appeared with sprinkled forehead and shaking voice, he revealed that:

In the period between September and November 2014 I had 4 meetings with Mr. Zoran Zaev, president of SDSM. He initiated the first meeting, whereas the following ones were related to the first. In this meetings, Mr. Zoran Zaev requested urgent forming of interim government and also informed me that he had obtained recorded phone conversations, with the assistance of a certain foreign secret service, which include nearly every high official in the country, starting from the President, officials in the Parliament, the government, people from the media and other politicians from the ruling coalition and the opposition. I asked him several times if he is certain of what he is talking about, if he is certain that he mentioned foreign intelligence service, and he answered positively, Gruevski said. (Video: 00:30 – 1:56)

However, the public reaction to the speech of the then Prime Minister was not credulous and we were all able to read legitimate questions posed in some media articles. Regardless the immense desire for dramatizing an external attack, only 20% of the citizens believe that the wiretapped conversations possessed by the opposition were made by foreign intelligence services. These results came out just several months after the “bombs” were published by the opposition in the “Eurometer 2015” poll conducted on 23 June 2015 by the Macedonian Center for European Training (MCET).

As opposed to the aforementioned percentage, 41% of the citizens believe that the conversations were recorded by the domestic police service, whereas 52% find the content of the recordings themselves crucially important, and not their origin.

 

THE DETAILS ABOUT FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SERVICES

The same “details”, slightly upgraded, were repeated by Gruevski in the second press conference dedicated to the foreign intelligence services, which was held on 25 February 2015 and lasted for nearly 47 minutes.

Gruevski stated that two persons, according to his cognizance, admitted the crime when interrogated by the investigative bodies during the criminal proceedings. Gj.P., as Gruevski said, admitted the crime, claiming that he, as an acquaintance and long term collaborator of the person Z.V., upon Z.V.’s request, recruited the person Z.K., employed in UBK (the Administration for Security and Counter Intelligence) since 1993. Allegedly, said the then Prime Minister, Z.K. told Gj.P. that Z.V. needs recorded materials with the aim to hand them to foreign intelligence service, because this foreign intelligence service needed to monitor the political and general situations in Macedonia.

Later on, Zvonko Kostovski, one of the suspects in the case “Putsch”, was immediately offered a settlement in the lawsuit for the wiretapping and spy crimes, and he was immediately imprisoned for three years. (Kostovski was released from prison with the pardoning of the President Gjorgje Ivanov, but after the pardoning was withdrawn, the legal interpretations whether he should be back in prison and to “sit” behind bars until the end of the sentence, emerged).

This was actually the first signal that nothing will come out of the announced judicial proceeding, which, as Gruevski stated, will be “public and transparent both for the domestic and the international public”.

Moreover, the Report from the expert group led by Reinhard Priebe confirmed that Gruevski’s words are not as correct as he claims, and that can be seen on the fifth page in the section related to the UBK.

The causes of the protracted scandal in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia can be traced back both to a concentration of power within the national security service (UBK) and to a malfunctioning of the oversight mechanism over the UBK.

The UBK appears, to an external onlooker, to have been operating outside its legal mandate on behalf of the government, to control top officials in the public administration, prosecutors, judges and political opponents with a consequent interference in the independence of the judiciary and other relevant national institutions, is said in the Report.

This Report, accepted both by the Parliament and the government, clearly states that “The UBK appears, to an external onlooker, to have been operating outside its legal mandate on behalf of the government”, and not on behalf of Verushevski and SDSM.

Furthermore, on the sixth page of this Report is stated:

Family ties between high ranking politicians and senior officials in the UBK as well as the Public Prosecution Office create a risk environment for conflicts of interests.

These family ties refer to Sasho Mijalkov as a director of the UBK and first cousin of the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and to the prosecutor for fight against the organized crime, Jovo Ilievski, who is the husband of Mijalkov’s sister in law.

 

STORY REPETITION

Gruevski still did not give up on his story and stated that the recording process began somewhere in 2010.

After Zoran Zaev began to threaten me, the MOI invited top class experts in this problematics working for a well-known foreign company, which used its own equipment and determined that an unknown perpetrator, sporadically, on different locations mainly in the center of Skopje, was wiretapping and recording phone calls, using phone equipment whose location constantly alters, and it functions by cloning of the so called cell towers. Also, the position of the equipment had been changing in radius of 2 kilometers from the institutions, mainly in the center, and the phones of the top officials and public office holders were located from there, and that equipment was turned on in a specific period of the day, oftentimes between 12PM and 6PM, Gruevski said. (Video: 17:15 – 18:11)

On the other hand, the leader of SDSM, Zoran Zaev, in the interview with the editor in chief of the Sitel TV station Dragan Pavlovikj – Latas, denied Gruevski’s statements and said that the Bill of Indictment, signed by the Public Prosecutor Marko Zvrlevski, states that the wiretapping occurred in the premises of the national security service and with the equipment it possesses.

That same Zvrlevski confirms with the Bill of Indictment that the wiretapping has occurred at the premises of the secret services with the equipment of the fifth administration – said Zaev in the interview. [Source: Sitel. Video: 8:20 – 9:40. Date: 10 February 2016]

Zoran Zaev’s lawyer, Filip Medarski, in a phone conversation for Truthmeter confirmed the assertion of the opposition leader given in the interview with Latas.

Yes, it is correct that the Bill of Indictment states that the wiretapping has occurred at the premises of the secret police – said Medarski.

Up until today, there is no document to support the theses about alleged vans, foreign intelligence services etc. On the contrary, the Criminal Council at the Basic Court Skopje 1 rejected the appeals of the prosecutors as ungrounded and confirmed the decision of the judge in the previous proceeding. In them, the wiretapped materials from the cases of the Basic Public Prosecution Office opened after SDSM submitted criminal charges against Nikola Gruevski, Gordana Jankuloska, Mile Janakieski, Kiril Bozhinovski, Sasho Mijalkov, Irena Misheva, Partin Protugjer, Toni Trajkovski and Koce Trajanovski are designated as illegally obtained evidence.

The accepted request of the lawyer of the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his collaborators not to play the “bombs” in court, was not an obstacle for the prosecutors from the Special Public Prosecution Office and the judges to conduct hearings regarding alleged crimes.

In the criminal charge that reached Truthmeter it is written that Mijalkov and Gruevski, alongside with other unknown persons, using their official position, were wiretapping and recording the conversations of Zaev multiple times and continuously from 17 May 2011 until a certain date in 2014, in an unauthorized manner, contrary to the Law on Monitoring of Communications and the Law on Criminal Procedure. According to Zaev, he was wiretapped 311 times and the aforementioned persons perpetrated the criminal act “unauthorized wiretapping and recording”, from the Articles 151, 22 and 45 of the Criminal Code.

A German laboratory engaged by the Al Jazeera TV station confirmed that the recordings are authentic.

More precisely, Al Jazeera confirmed that the recording of the conversation between the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and the former Minister for Transport and Communication Mile Janakieski is not edited. It is one of the dozen recordings that allegedly incriminate the Prime Minister Gruevski, and Al Jazeera requested analysis for the authenticity of this recording from the German laboratory “Tonambulanz”.

Gruevski’s coalition partner and president of DUI, Ali Ahmeti, also confirmed that the recorded phone conversations played by the opposition are authentic and original. He stated this in the “Opinion” TV show airing on the Klan TV station.

Ahmeti answered positively to the journalistic question whether the recordings are authentic. He also added that every official of DUI appearing in the recordings is responsible for what he/she has done.

 

PROHIBITION FOR PUBLISHING – A PART OF THE SETTLEMENT

So, on 25 February 2015, the last press conference dedicated to this topic was held, and it was also Gruevski’s last performance when he mentioned the foreign secret services. Here are several more dates related to these events, from the early beginning of the crisis:

  • 9 February 2015 – the leader of SDSM, Zoran Zaev, started publishing the wiretapped materials or the so called “bombs”. 38 “bombs” “went off” in total.
  • 14 May 2015 – the first leaders meeting was held.
  • 2 June 2015 – a basic Agreement was achieved in Przhino, and it was finalized on 15th of July.

The Settlement says:

The publishing of additional wiretapping materials shall cease. After the return of SDSM in the Parliament, all materials possessed by SDSM or any other stakeholder will be handed to the public prosecutor for his urgent proceeding.

 

LINKS:

 

VIDEOS

First press conference of Gruevski:

Second press conference of Gruevski:


This article was created within the framework of the Project to increase the accountability of the politicians and political parties Truthmeter implemented by Metamorphosis. The article is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for Democracy(NED) and The Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an initiative that supports democracy, good governance, and Euroatlantic integration in Southeastern Europe. The content is the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, National Endowment for Democracy, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.

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