: RFE/RL: Crisis in Macedonia leads to violent protests

12:26 Apr. 15, 2016

RFE/RL: Crisis in Macedonia leads to violent protests

Riot police officers pass in front of the Justice Ministry with broken windows on the ground floor, in downtown Skopje, Macedonia, April 13, 2016 (AP Photo)

The upcoming elections are enadgered during the vicious protests

Violent protests that led to the ransacking of Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov's office are the culmination of public anger over a long-running scandal in which the government is accused of illegally wiretapping thousands of citizens' phone conversations.

Read also Macedonia president halts wiretapping inquiry

The outrage bubbled over into the streets of the capital, Skopje, just hours after Ivanov said during a nationwide televised address on April 12 that he was ending a special investigation into the individuals -- including former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski -- allegedly involved in the wiretapping. That effectively pardons more than 50 officials from any possible wrongdoing.

Along with angering many Macedonians, Ivanov's decision to end the investigation by special prosecutor Katica Janeva has also been heavily criticized by the European Union and the United States.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Ivanov's blanket pardon risks "undermining years of efforts within the country and with the support of the international community to strengthen the rule of law."

Watch also Refugees block Greece-Macedonia border crossing to protest deportation

The EU's enlargement commissioner, Johannes Hahn, told RFE/RL that the situation was "really deteriorating" and said the move to end the wiretapping investigation goes against his "understanding of the rule of law."

The U.S. State Department said in a statement on April 13 that Washington was "deeply concerned" by Ivanov's move, which it said will "protect corrupt officials and deny justice to the people of Macedonia."

It added that failure to allow the courts to do their job and continue the investigation undermines Macedonian leaders' "commitment to the fundamental values of NATO and the European Union."

U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Jess Baily said Ivanov's decision will not only impede upcoming early elections that were scheduled to defuse the crisis, but will hinder Macedonia's efforts to join NATO and the EU. Full story 

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