Rashkovski case: Everyone was free to record in the Government
The visitors who came to meetings with the Secretary General of the Government Dragi Rashkovski never left their mobile phones at security check, so anyone could make a “reality show” out of this institution. This is the point of the response we received from the Government when asked whether the visitors who come to meetings, specifically with the Secretary General of the Government Dragi Rashkovski, have their phones taken away by the Government’s security, and what are the security procedures for entering his office.
Rashkovski himself confirmed that on his order the persons who worked as security in the Government did not take away the phones of the visitors that came to meet him.
“I personally told the Government’s security staff not to take away the mobile phones of visitors who come to meet with me because I have nothing to hide. I never thought that someone would come to my office and record me, I don’t think in that way, and I would never think that anyone else thinks that way,” said Rashkovski.
However, two days ago, Rashkovski introduced new measures, and now anyone that enters his office has to leave their phones at the security check. Such measures also applied to visitors entering Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s office, where visitors that came to appointments and working meetings left the phones in locked boxes at security check.
However, there are no blockers in the Government building and all officials are under threat that someone could record them with a mobile phone, “bug” cameras that are available for purchase in the market, but also with pens that have a built-in camera. All these devices can be bought by anyone on the black market or legally in the mobile phone shops of the mobile operators. These types of devices can also be ordered from the Chinese website Ali Express that offers thousands of products that are sold online at very reasonable prices.
“There are many available devices, there are pens that record, it can be any kind of device. Although the law in North Macedonia implies that any recording equipment should be approved by the Ministry of Interior, this does not apply to imported equipment. Such devices can also be sold through black and illegal channels,” a source told Nezavisen Vesnik/Independent Daily newspaper.
If politicians are unsafe in the strategic buildings of the country, then every single one of us is in danger. Today, almost everyone has a mobile phone with video applications and video cameras. However, the Government building should be a lot more secure, and still there are recordings coming out of this facility that are later heard and watched by the entire public. The government did not respond when asked what specific security measures were taken for protection against illegal recording in this facility.
A few years ago, also at the government building, current Prime Minister, and former opposition leader, Zoran Zaev was recorded at a meeting with the then Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. On this tape, one can hear as the leader of the opposition told the prime minister that he had footage provided by foreign services. At the press conference in 2015, then-Prime Minister Gruevski admitted that his office had recording devices that were installed and later uninstalled, but it was done on the order of the Prosecutor’s Offfice, and Zaev was being recorded as a suspect in the “Coup” case.
Zaev was recorded and a lawsuit was filed against him, after a footage was released in the public and the prosecution claimed that he had demanded a bribe from a Strumica businessman for a construction of a church. Zaev then became prime minister and received an acquittal after the prosecution found at the last moment that he had asked, but did not receive a bribe and requalified the crime. Same kind of audio recording “burned’ now former MP Pavle Bogoevski, who resigned after a recording of him allegedly ordering cocaine was released, of which he later claimed it was an order of cannabis oil for medical use.
Rashkovski claims that the conversation was recorded by Kliment Chepunjovski, dismissed technical director at the M-NAV, exactly because of causing a serious incident, for which there is a report prepared by the Committee for Investigation of National Aviation Accidents. However, this recorded conversation confirmed the suspicions, as well as the writings of Nezavisen Vesnik/Independent Daily newspaper that our skies are not safe and that radars do not function properly.
In this technological mess, hardly anyone can protect themselves from illegal recording, but the responsibility for publishing is the one that will publish it. If there is a public interest, and if something points to crime and irresponsible rule, the public has the right to know it, and public figures, especially the officials, do not have the right to privacy.
The previous government changed after a decade of governance, with the release of wiretapped conversations that the Special Public Prosecution claims were recorded in the Security and Counterintelligence Administration. Former UBK director Sasho Mijalkov and the former leadership in the Ministry of Internal Affairs are accused in this case.
After the so-called “bombs” released by Zaev, dozens of other recorded conversations were released, but no one knows where they come from. The Skopje Prosecutor’s Office is leading investigations into illegal wiretapping, but there is still no epilogue in any of them.