Macedonia protesters denounce amnesty for officials accused of wiretapping, vote fraud & corruption

Protesters shout slogans on the main square in Skopje on April 18, 2016, during a protest against the president's shock decision to halt probes into more than 50 public figures embroiled in a wire-tapping scandal. © Robert Atanasovski
Several thousand anti-government protesters took to the streets of Macedonian capital, Skopje, to decry the president’s blanket amnesty for officials accused of fraud and corruption. The pardoned charges included election violations, wiretapping and illegal business deals.

The demonstration, organized by the civil movement “Objection,” began its way near the headquarters of the prosecutor's office. The activists then marched to the parliament.

Among their slogans displayed were, “Resignation, resignation,” “Where there’s no truth, there’s no peace” and “Mafia to jail.”

Wednesday’s demonstration in Skopje remained largely peaceful, despite protesters spraying several government institutions, as well as several monuments, with paint.
Reinforced police squads were called to the area to ensure order, including special units of the Interior Ministry. They cordoned off several streets.

Protests over the amnesty have taken place daily over the past week, with activists decrying President Gjorge Ivanov’s decision to pardon the figures accused of crimes against the state. Similar rallies have been held in nine cities across the republic.

The situation in the Balkan nation has been tense since March, after Macedonia's constitutional court allowed the president to pardon politicians accused of electoral fraud. Thousands took to the streets of Skopje following the decision. The mass outrage then escalated on April 12, after Ivanov decided to drop criminal proceedings against a number of former and current officials, participants of the so-called “Bomb Affair,” who were suspected of large-scale embezzlement of government funds and organizing mass wiretapping of phones in the country. Activists also demand the rescheduling of the next parliamentary elections from June 5 to a later date, as well as calling for a technocratic government to be reformed.

On April 22, leaders of the main Macedonian parties will meet in Vienna, where they are expected to discuss possible solutions to the political crisis that has enveloped the Balkan nation.