By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Allegations against the Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, will be among the first cases that Macedonia’s new Special Prosecutor will investigate.
The first case that Macedonia’s new Special Prosecutor will investigate involves claims that the former chief of Macedonia’s secret police, Saso Mijalkov, solicited bribes to smooth the procurement of Israeli surveillance equipment in 2011.
The Special Prosecution said the second case, involving “falsifying personal identification documents and breaches of electoral rights”, concerned Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski himself, as well as former Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska and former Transport Minister Mile Janakieski.
Macedonia passed a Law on the Special Prosecutor and appointed Katica Janeva to the post in September as part of a crisis agreement brokered this summer by EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn.
Under the agreement, Gruevski must resign at the end of the year, at least 100 days before snap elections in April, to ensure he cannot interfere in the election process.
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.
They insist that the tapes contain incriminating evidence against many high-ranking officials, including election fraud and abuse of the justice system and media.
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.
In January, Gruevski used a nationwide TV address to accuse the opposition Social Democrat leader, Zoran Zaev, of attempting a coup.
Zaev was later charged with “blackmail and and violence against top state officials” and ordered to surrender his passport.
This case is also now being transferred to the Special Prosecution.
Another case of “unauthorized wiretapping and audio recording” is being raised against unknown officials of a mobile Macedonian operator and against a legal entity, Janeva said.
The last case that the Special Prosecution will start working on concerns the Mayor of Bitola, Vladimir Talevski, who is charged with abuse of office.
The Special Prosecution said that they will demand more material for more cases at 15-day intervals.
Under the law adopted as a result of an EU-brokered deal between the government and the opposition, the Special Prosecutor has only until March 2017 to investigate all the related cases and press charges.
Some observers have wondered whether there is enough time in this tight schedule to cover all the allegations arising from a vast mass of wiretapping material.