Is there a way out of the “Racket” affair?

Gjorgji Spasov

After being elected leader of the party, Zoran Zaev managed to achieve several major political achievements. First, he succeeded with unprecedented courage and persistence, exposing himself to great danger in order to unmask the false patriotism of VMRO-DPMNE and Nikola Gruevski, and expose the great crime and gross abuse of power in the period 2008-2016. It has led, first, to large protests in the country, to international support for fair elections and to the establishment of a Special Public Prosecutor’s Office to tackle the crimes of the previous government.
Second, Zaev, shortly after the formation of the government by reaching good neighborly and cooperative agreements with Bulgaria and Greece, paved the way for Macedonia’s NATO and EU membership, and resolved issues with neighbors that had long been considered unsolvable.
And third, it showed that when you have a political program to address the issues of the greatest interest to the citizens, then it is possible to attract a large number of votes from the citizens regardless of their nationality and ethnic origin, that it, to transform the ethnic parties in Macedonia into civil, thus internal unity and political cohesion are strengthened.
On the basis of these three steps in politics, our country has increased its international reputation, has become safer, more economically attractive, and has begun to improve its economic standing and standard of living, and to reduce the large gap between the richest and poorest.
In such circumstances, in order to prevent the return of the regime to power, Zaev had to deliver justice for the crimes and abuses of Gruevski’s family, which were revealed by the releasing of the wiretapped conversations. One of his key goals for all other policies to succeed was to prevent those who committed mass human rights violations, who robbed the budget, from reappearing in political life in the role of “justice fighters” and “moralists” , who, through their installations in the judiciary and police, will block and threaten with coming back to power and with political revenge.
With the establishment of the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office and the public presentation of their first investigations, the hope of the citizens that this will succeed has raised in Macedonia. Unfortunately, at the moment when the two key culprits for mass illegal wiretapping (Grujovski and Boshkovski) escaped and later, the leader of the whole crime under the regime, Nikola Gruevski also escaped, the public began to seriously question the government’s ability to deliver justice. Some justification was sought in the unreformed judiciary, in the Supreme Court blockades and in the absence of a two-thirds majority in the Assembly. However, there was hope that the SPO would be able to find key evidence of major crime in the country and that justice would eventually be delivered.
However, Zaev’s team seems to forget that in the chess game between crime and justice, crime usually plays with white figures and it is always one move ahead justice. Therefore, the main goal of the defeated forces was to find a way to discredit the SPO, to block the public prosecution law and to completely prevent justice.
And unfortunately, they have been doing quite well so far. The SPO devastation operation uses a well-known mafia tool known as “bribery” for releasing detainees, returning passports, but with the ultimate goal of presenting some indictments and investigations as a “planned operation to extort money from defendants”. The very fact that Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva, as the greatest hope for delivering justice, has been dragged into this case, as has been suspected so far, has put all those in favor of justice in a very awkward position.
Suddenly, the bosses and defenders of the former regime’s crime get their wings with the “Racket” affair. The accused accuse of crime, the immoral speak of morality, and those who have repeatedly blocked justice speak of “the inability of the government to deliver justice”. That, in their view, is the reason for scheduling new elections, a change of government and the opportunity for them to show how a rule of law could be established and correct all other “injustices” that Prime Minister Zaev has done to them.
In such conditions, it makes no sense for the government to talk about how many kilometers of roads it has built, what it has done to protect the poor, or pave the way for NATO and the EU. In this case, it has damaged its brand, which it has built with a series of political breakthroughs in politics.
Prime Minister Zaev simply cannot pardon himself from the accusations that he could not recognize a fraudster like Bojan Jovanovski, who out of nowhere formed a TV station overnight, employing some of the best journalists in the country and becoming a close friend to many ministers and public figures who are took pictures with him on various occasions. After footage of him taking money, which was taken as a bribe for a special prosecutor, fraudulently or knowingly, was published, it would have been clear to the public that such a fraudster would hardly succeed in that role if he did not infiltrate through the closeness he demonstrated with the government, convincing defendants that they could do some dirty work. In fact, the same thing happened to Branko Crvenkovski with TAT owner Sonja Nikolovska and Nikola Gruevski with Subrata Roy. That kind of “hanging out” gives the impression of either being inadequate for leaders to recognize fraudsters or leaving suspicions, irrespective of the court outcome, that their support for the activity of such fraudsters was not without any expected benefits.
In this regard, whatever the outcome of the “Racket” case, it leaves a bitter taste to everyone who wished the current government to deliver justice, and that affair contaminates not only the government but also the reporters’ names from the TV station that have contributed greatly to the changes in Gruevski’s regime.
But as the proverb goes – One should not cry over spilt milk.
Now Zaev’s team has to figure out how to get out of the blockade of the SPO, continue the trials and investigations, and end the affair as soon as possible with fraudulent, extortion, influential or abuse of office verdicts.
But more important than that is to divert the citizens’ attention from that scandal to things that are just as important to them.
It is not the first time in Macedonia that someone offers money, in fact a bribe to solve a big problem, or even say to get rid of unfounded charges. And no wonder that someone lost himself in the situation and appeared in the role of “facilitator”, as Kicheec and Boki 13 did.
The exact role of the head special prosecutor is yet to be discovered. But the fact is that in this “operation” where justice has been lost and the hope of justice has been lost, the state budget was not damaged.
Gruevski’s family from the state budget through corruption on highways, money laundering, public tenders set up and the Skopje 2014 project, along with oligarchs close to that family, pumped billions out of Macedonia’s budget and put them in their own pockets. And that story is not over. Thousands of citizens fell victim by a handful of greedy men since TAT. Only the “witness victim” has suffered financial loss for the time being and still has a chance to recover from it.
Hence, Zaev’s team, while suffering the political consequences of its inability to recognize fraudsters and prevent a fraud in its ranks, should not allow such a scandal when there is no evidence of direct government involvement leading to the complete forgetting of the massive robbery of state budget by Gruevski and his closest associates who want to return to power.
The merits of Zaev and his team are greater than this “banana slip”. And extraordinary efforts are needed to prove that. Negative news always attracts more attention than positive.
The evil that has been and is being persecuted by some media and journalists, who themselves helped to overthrow the regime, to show that this is the end of this government and that despite the denial of the “victim witness, is much more involved in this affair than what has been established so far, and has inflicted great damage on the government. But on the other hand, they have helped accelerate the wrap-up of the responsibility from a decent distance from the next elections. And the ambience can slowly start changing.

Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik