PM Bribe Claim Electrifies Macedonian Election
The recording released amid a tense election campaign in Macedonia comes a day after opposition Social Democrats accused Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of taking a bribe of €1.5 million for expediting the sale of Makedonska Banka AD to Serbian businessman Jovica Stefanovic, aka “Gazda Nini” ["Boss Nini"] in 2004.
The first part of the recording contains what appears to be a telephone conversation between Stefanovic and an unknown middleman in which they discuss financial matters concerning the sale of the bank, including pament of a bribe in cash and in monthly installments.
Later, the lengthy audio contains two separate conversations between the middleman and what is alleged to be Gruevski, in which the middleman reports what has been agreed and they both agree a legal strategy to obtain approval for the sale of the bank from the Macedonian Central Bank.
“I remind you that former Prime Ministers from the region have already ended up in jail for criminal sales of banks,” the head of the Social Democrats, Zoran Zaev told the media on Thursday.
“Changes have happened all over the region, in Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Albania. Only in Macedonia does the criminal network push the state towards full dictatorship and collapse,” he added.
Gruevski’s VMRO DPMNE party issued a flat denial on Thursday, denouncing the telephone audio recordings as phoney and manufactured.
“Zaev’s allegations are completely false and made up. This is a classic montage of something that for the most part does not even resemble the voice of Nikola Gruevski. The montage contains many flaws, contradictions and details that overturn one another and are completely illogical… This will not pass,” the ruling party said in its...