Macedonian PM Accused of Real-Estate Corruption

The Macedonian opposition released its latest batch of alleged wiretapped conversations, accusing Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of involvement in the fraudulent acquisition of lucrative land for building.

The opposition Social Democrats held a press conference on Sunday to reveal a tenth batch of alleged wiretapped conversations, claiming that they show Gruevski’s interests in acquiring land for construction land in the capital Skopje and in altering legal permits so that it can be more profitable.

The five new tapes that were showcased mainly purport to be conversations between Gruevski and Transportation Minister Mile Janalieski, during which they are allegedly heard discussing changes in general and local urban planning regulations for attractive locations in central Skopje.

The voice of Gruevski is allegedly heard talking to Janakieski how to change a building lot’s purpose and legal construction permissions so that bigger buildings can be constructed in the future. The two appear to discuss how to conceal the fraud from the general public.

Opposition Social Democrats, SDSM party leader Zoran Zaev said that the tapes show how Gruevski tries to use coded language to explain to Janakieski his plans to buy the building lots.

In support of his accusations, Zaev presented documents of altered urban planning diagrams, which he said were changed according to the wishes of the Prime Minister, as well as alleged property deeds that show how the lots have been bought by offshore companies that are close to Gruevski in Lugano in Switzerland and Belize in order to conceal their true ownership.

“It is apparent that Gruevski interfered in the changing of general and detailed urban plans when his personal interests were at stake,” Zaev told the press conference.

He said that the alleged wiretapped conversations explain why the ruling party has been engaged in election fraud in Skopje’s municipality of Centar during the 2013 local elections and why it had been so important for them not to lose control over it. At the elections, the opposition won in Centar after three election re-runs.

“Gruevski, it is over! Only the resignation of the government and the formation of a transitional government means an exit from this crisis,” Zaev urged.

The opposition press conference took place only half an hour before the announced start of a large rally organised by Gruevski’s ruling VMRO DPMNE party in Skopje’s Boris Trajkovski sports hall. The rally is as a response to the opposition claims of election fraud and other crimes revealed by the alleged wiretapped telephone conversation.

The SDSM has already accused Gruevski of orchestrating the illegal surveillance of more than 20,000 people, including his own ministers.

Zaev in February started publishing wiretapped conversations between government ministers and other senior officials, which allegedly point to their direct involvement in various criminal activities, including electoral fraud.

Gruevski has denied the allegations of wrongdoing, maintaining that the tapes were doctored and that the opposition illegally obtained its material from unnamed foreign secret services. He has refused to comment on the content of the tapes.