Third Night of Macedonia Protests Ends with Arrests, Injured Police

Southeast Europe | April 15, 2016, Friday // 09:26|  views

Macedonian special police forces guard the headquarter of the rulling VMRO DPMNE during the protest against Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov`s decision on wiretapping amnesty, in Skopje, Macedonia, April 14, 2016. EPA/BGNES

Two police officers were left injured in the third successive evening of demonstrations in Macedonia's capital Skopje that began over a controversial amnesty decision by the country's President.

Macedonian head of state Gjorge Ivanov on Tuesday halted all proceedings against politicians over the wiretapping scandal that rocked the country last year.

The move sparked outrage across the political spectrum, drawing criticism from the European Union and the United States. Boyko Borisov, the Prime Minister of neighboring Bulgaria, even predicted possible long-term destabilization of the country.

The Russian Embassy to Skopje has also voiced concern, stating the opposition was behind the developments with support "from abroad" arguing the "Macedonian opposition has once more become an instrument for the fuelling of an internal political conflict" aimed at postponing the elections. It warns against a "Ukrainian scenario" that could be played out with "serious jolts" in Macedonia and the Balkan region as a whole.

It came just days before Parliament Speaker Trajko Veljanoski was to sign, on Friday, April 15, the decree setting June 05 as the date for early elections.

Thursday's demonstrations began in front of the National Assembly and ended in front of the government, after an unsuccessful attempt by protesters to move to the headquarters of the biggest party, conservative VMRO-DPMNE of former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, local media report.

More than a dozen people were detained in the minor clashes that followed.

Some estimates suggest up to several thousand people attended the rally.

Daily Utrinski Vesnik calls last evening of protests "tense, but peaceful".

A new rally has already been scheduled by a civic initiative called Protestiram ("I Protest") demanding the President's resignation.

They also call for the June elections to be further postponed and the formation of a technocratic government that would organize "fair democratic and credible elections."

A separate protest was organized by another civic movement on Thursday evening in front of the socialist SDSM party of Zoran Zaev, who last year played the central role in the wiretapping affair by leaking recordings of intercepted conversations allegedly showing the government was conducting mass surveillance on politicians, magistrates, and journalists.

Zaev, who is also targeted by proceedings over the affair, earlier said he did not want an amnesty and was also against the decision.

Meanwhile quoted Special Prosecutor Katitsa Janeva, appointed to oversee the investigation into the wiretapping scandal, as saying her institution would continue its work despite the amnesty announced by Ivanov.

The latter retorted Janeva's office may go on with its work until the elections, but doubted its ability to deliver any results by the time.

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Tags: macedonia, protests, amnesty, Gjorge Ivanov, Nikola Gruevski, wiretapping, Katitsa Janeva, zoran zaev, VMRO-DPMNE, SDSM


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