The “Gift” of 33 Million Euros for the Russian Gas Pipeline Is Still Under Investigation after 4 Years
Although this is one of the highest amounts for which the SPO found that the budget was damaged, as much as 33 million euros, which were supposed to regulate the Russian debt to the country, the case is still where it was, and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which took over the cases from SPO say they are still waiting for answers from Russia. Stavreski was seen only once, in 2019, at the premises of the Financial Police for questioning in this case concerning the Russian gas pipeline
Author: Meri Jordanovska
The “Gift” case opened in 2018 by the then Special Public Prosecutor’s Office (SPO), where the former Finance Minister Zoran Stavreski and former Minister of Transport and Communications Mile Janakieski are the suspects, has been under investigation for four years. In this case, Stavreski and Janakieski are suspected of obtaining a property benefit of almost 33m euros from a Russian company in Moscow after concluding an agreement to build a gas pipeline to regulate Russian debt from the former USSR to the former SFRY in terms of liabilities to N. Macedonia.
Although this is one of the highest amounts for which the SPO found that the budget was damaged, as much as 33 million euros, which were supposed to regulate the Russian debt to the country, the case is still where it was, and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which took over the cases from SPO say they are still waiting for answers from Russia. Stavreski was seen only once, in 2019, at the premises of the Financial Police for questioning in this case concerning the Russian gas pipeline.
The case you are interested in is under investigation. Evidence is needed to clear the case. Given that there is an international element in the case, the Prosecution used the mechanisms of international legal assistance to request the necessary data that have not been received so far in response to this request, say the Prosecution for “Truthmeter”.
According to the SPO from the investigation, Stavreski and Janakieski were authorized representatives to implement the intergovernmental agreement, concluded on June 19, 2010, in St. Petersburg between the two governments, the Russian and the Macedonian. The agreement regulated Russian debt of $ 60,560,242, which was to be closed through the delivery of goods, services and the execution of works. In the negotiations, Stavreski and Janakieski agreed to close that amount with the construction of the main gas pipeline, section “Klechovce – Block Station 5” for a total amount of 75,700,303 US dollars or 55,647,292 euros, with Russia participating with 80 percent and Macedonia with 20 percent.
Previously, by order of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, a Feasibility Study was prepared for the construction of a gas pipeline section Klechovce – Shtip, which was almost 36 km longer than the previously mentioned agreement for the section “Klechovce – Block Station 5”.
According to the study, the cost of construction of the section would be between 30 and 35 million euros, so that the suspects Stavreski and Janakieski were aware that the real price is much lower than that agreed with the Russian side. Nevertheless, Stavreski and Janakieski closed the entire Russian debt by providing a service – construction of a gas pipeline, built by the Moscow company OAD Stroytransgas. Thus, at a closed government session, in the presence of the suspected ministers, the Government reached a conclusion to accept the offer of the Russian company and to sign a final agreement. Then, the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia accepted the government proposal and in a shortened procedure passed a law for construction of the gas pipeline, whereby the MPs hid the facts from the Feasibility Study, according to which the real cost is much lower, or only 378,626 euros (for one kilometer of pipeline).
According to the SPO, the suspect Krste Miladinov, as director of “Macedonian Energy Resources” accepted the unrealistically high price of the service from the Agreement, although he was acquainted with the Feasibility Study, so on July 9, 2014, in Skopje concluded the Agreement with the Russian company, which, according to the SPO, enabling an illegal property gain of 32,664,672 euros, as much as the budget was damaged.
In one sentence, Macedonia actually paid for the pipeline with its own funds, because it participated with 20% in the agreement, which is approximately the total (real) amount of cost, and Russia’s debt to Macedonia, in fact, remained a “gift” for Russia, said from SPO in 2018.
Former Minister of Finance Stavreski is the suspect only in this case of the former Special Public Prosecutor’s Office. This Prosecution Office ended up in a downfall after the opening of the “Racket” case in which among the defendants, and now the convicts was its former boss Katica Janeva, who is serving a 7-year prison sentence.
The Special Public Prosecutor’s Office handed over all cases to the State Public Prosecutor’s Office in 2019, and the cases continued to be handled by the same prosecutors. For investigations opened after 2017, the wiretapped audio recordings are for clues only and are not used as evidence in court. Many cases are still under investigation.