Spasovski: All investigations into civil society organizations have now been officially closed

Skopje, 1 March, 2018 - 15:32 (META) 

All investigations against civil society organizations and foundations that began in 2016, and been taking place for most of 2017, have now been officially closed, said Minister of Interior, Oliver Spasovki at today’s meeting between representatives of the two dozen organizations.

The meeting was attended by the Director of the Public Security Bureau, Lazo Velkovski, the Director of Financial Intelligence, Blazo Trendafilov and the Director of the Financial Police, Arafat Muaremi. He assured the participants that suspicions had not been confirmed, ie “there is no evidence against those subject to criminal proceedings”.

After the completion of the inspections on the requests of the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Organized Crime and Corruption, the Ministry of Interior gave information to the prosecution saying that “the suspicions are unfounded, and based on the collected information, it has been established that there are no grounds for further investigation”.

“On this basis, the investigating authorities submitted to the Public Prosecutor’s Office a proposal to close the investigation,” stated the MoI later.

At the meeting, it was also pointed out that an investigation is under way against those who initiated the political persecution, by abusing the institutions of the system, but more details on this matter have yet to be released.

Mass inspections were carried out in organizations critical of the government in 2016 and 2017, the civil society sector were under tremendous pressure and intimidation by the then ruling VMRO-DPMNE party.

For months, the MOI and the PPO were involved in the investigations, but no evidence of suspicious activity or violations were found.

Investigations against NGOs have been completed – no crimes were found, says Spasovski

Skopje, 17 November, 2017 - 16:12 (META) 

The investigation into the NGOs is finished because no illegal activities were found, reported Minister of Interior, Oliver Spasovski today.

“After analyzes and consultations with the Basic Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Organized Crime and Corruption, the Ministry of Interior, ie the Public Security Bureau together with the Financial Police Directorate, closed these investigations because there is no evidence that can confirm grounds of the suspicion that something had been going on”, said Spasovski.

The previous government of VMRO-DPMNE started investigations against NGOs, and their explanation at the time was that “SDSM and Soros are constantly working to destroy the civil sector and initiatives, as well as independent journalism in the Republic of Macedonia”.

Zaev to EU Ambassadors: We will cooperate with the opposition, the president and NGOs

Skopje, 9 June, 2017 - 15:36 (META) 

Today, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, accompanied by Deputy Prime Ministers Bujar Osmani and Radmila Šekerinska, met with ambassadors of member states of the European Union in the government building, where he stressed that for a better future of the country and its citizens, the government will cooperate with the opposition, with the president and civil societies.

The meeting was held three days before Zaev’s official visit to Brussels where he will be holding meetings with European Commissioners Federica Mogherini and Johannes Hahn, as well as with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

“We are committed to defining a short-term and medium-term agenda for the urgent reform priorities. We will talk with Commissioner Hahn in Brussels on the matter. Euro-Atlantic integration is a strategic goal for Macedonia to acquire democratic institutions”, said the Prime Minister to the ambassadors, stated the government.

At the meeting, key areas that require urgent reforms, together with the judiciary, the media, securing professional institutions and the functionality of Parliament.

At the meeting, Zaev again emphasized that they are ready to cooperate with the opposition and the president, as well as the civil sector, for joint contribution to the development of Macedonia and ensuring quaility of life for all citizens.

NGOs ask that the government and institutions review the work of Tanturovski and DKSK

Skopje, 4 June, 2017 - 18:15 (META) 

The government and the institutions must check the basis of these inspections on NGOs and investigate misconduct of political pressure and discrimination of all concerned officers who are part of this persecution. Today the 22 civil organizations and foundations asked again, who in the past six months have had inspections from the Public Revenue Office (PRO) and the Financial Police initiated by the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption (DKSK).

The organizations say they are appalled by the statements by the President of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Igor Tanturovski, in which, according to them, it shows total ignorance of the manner of their functioning and their work.

“If they were better acquainted with the work of NGOs then Tanturovski will know that every domestic and foreign donor who decided to support a project and gave financial support to a nongovernmental are under rules which dictate that grant recipients are obliged to prepare detailed monthly, quarterly and annual narrative and financial reports . That is how you monitor the spending of money by the grantees. In addition at the end of projects, organizations often engage external auditors whose review all details in controlling the method of spending. Tanturovski and his anti- corruption officials as a state body have ways to check if funds are questionable, therefore they should not harass organizations. The Anti Corruption Commission just need to take the data from the Central Registry or the Public Revenue Office where all projects are recorded to check the work, rather than initiating months of inspections that cost money to organizations and citizens, “reads the joint statement by 22 NGOs .

NGOs say it’s funny and Tanturovski statement shows “he is afraid of the money for terrorism coming into Macedonia through civil organizations and foundations.”

NGOs demand that inspections and political persecution stop

Skopje, 29 May, 2017 - 14:27 (META) 

Today, NGOs called on the new government and institutions to immediately stop political pressure which, they say unfairly and deliberately exposed 20 CSOs since December, when VMRO-DPMNE called for the “persecution” of civil society organizations.

“We ask that the basis for the inspections are verified and the misconduct of political pressure and discrimination is investigated.We also ask that the decision by the current technical government is withdrawn to grant 800,000 euros to civil organizations, which the public heard for the first time in the publication of their names as recipients of government money – on behalf of 20 NGOs, Dona Kosturanova of the “Youth Educational Forum”, Filip Stojanovski from the “Metamorphosis” Foundation and Zekir Abdulov from organization KHAM – Delcevo.

They pointed out that in the past months these organizations were under constant pressure and inspections carried out by the Public Revenue Office, the Financial Police and the Interior Ministry, at the request of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Financial Intelligence Agency and the State Anti-Corruption Commission.

Kosturanova said that so far a few fines were given, and the most impressionable was the example of KHAM – Delcevo, who now have to pay a 3,500 euro fine for personal income tax divided for humanitarian aid and interest due to late payment.

With the request for the persecution to stop, the informal coalition of NGOs requested that the decision of the current technical government is reviewed to distribute 800,000 euros to unknown CSOs, as the sum is the largest to date.

“The call was open amidst the political persecution of non-governmental organizations, while the same government wants to allocate funds higher than any they have separated for NGOs. While last year, they signed contracts of 5,000 euros, and now that has increased to 50,000 euros. For all of these reasons, we ask that the decision on awarding public funds to be revised as soon as possible”, said Stojanovski.

PRO and MOI are investigating civil organizations for funds received from USAID on the order of the Public Prosecutor

Skopje, 10 March, 2017 - 15:04 (META) 

More than 20 civil organizations are still being investigated by the Public Revenue Office (UJP) inspectors, and what is worrying is that in the last week, 13 organizations were visited by inspectors of the Financial police and of the Ministry of Interior upon the request of the Public Prosecution Office (OJO), for a preliminary investigation on an unknown basis, said today the executive director of the “Open Society” Foundation, Fani Karanfilova – Panovska, after promoting the “Civil Alliance for Transparency – Observing the process of reforming of the Public Administration on part of the civil organizations.”

– The way they conduct the procedures, tells that they demand everything and that they don’t know what to look for. Especially in the last three days from the organizations that are investigated are taken documents about payments and inflows made by USAID – said Karanfilova-Panovska, saying that they were investigating the finances granted to civil organizations, but not assets that were donated to state institutions.

She remarked that judging from the current situation and the intensity and the instruments that are being used, their goal is to try and create a case of misuse of funds. She stressed that if the situation carries on and the political crisis is not resolved soon, civil organizations can become serious collateral damage even though all this time they have worked in the interest of the citizens.

When asked whether they expect the new government to protect the civil organizations, Karanfilova-Panovska said that “at the moment we don’t have a government, but we have institutions that are led by illegitimate representatives”.

– If the political crisis is not resolved soon, this will be a misuse on part of the institutions in a situation where in Macedonia there is no information who does what. We don’t know whether there is a legitimate representative of any level of authority. The only legitimate representative, formally, is the President Gjorge Ivanov, who with his last two decisions completely de-legitimized himself in the eyes of the people – said Karanfilova-Panovska.

The executive director of “Eurothink” Bojan Marichikj, stressed that they still don’t know the reason for the inspections and what the authorities are searching for.

– We expect a new government to be formed which will stop the institutional political pressure that was announced in VMRO-DPMNE’s proclamation”, said Marichikj.

He said that his organization has become a target of inspections after being a guest on “Top Tema” TV debate, during which there was a fierce discussion and two of the participants left the show.

– The warrant for the control of USAID funds is dated the 7th of March, a day after that show. You can make your own conclusions, as I can’t say openly that it is connected. There are too many similarities during this period to call them coincidences – Marichikj.

Previously, EU Ambassador, Samuel Žbogar said that the institutions, which have to be independent, are targeting the civil sector.

Thimonier: Parties who lose elections easily find the blame in NGOs

Skopje, 26 February, 2017 - 13:00 (META) 

When a party loses an election or they don’t win as they wanted to, then they try and find an excuse, and the media and NGOs are the easiest to blame. This way of thinking is not European, said the French ambassador Christian Thimonier in an interview with “Radio Free Europe“.

When asked about the “Desorosization” process as a way of dealing with the civil society, Thimonier among other things said that it is a very bad word.

“It’s a really bad word, it is even very difficulty to say. When a party loses an election or wins in a way they didn’t want, then they try to find someone or something responsible for it. And this can happen to a politician from a large country when they are criticized. The media and NGOs are the easiest to blame. This way of thinking is not European. On the other hand, I will say that NGOs should act with enough neutrality and they have to respect the laws of the country”, he said.

In the interview he said that does not feel affected by the criticism and accusations from VMRO-DPMNE that the international community interfered in the internal affairs of the country.

Regarding the work of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, he said that it was formed due to the political crisis.

“In this situation which was unusual and unique, it really was necessary to set up a special institution. I will say that all major political parties agreed n its formation and provided a guarantee on many international factors. And if perhaps, the SPO is a way out of the crisis, then their mandate should be extended with all the mechanisms that exist in Parliament. This requires political parties to show responsibility, but also a sense of general interest for all”, said Thimonier.

NGOs and civil society organizations announce disclaimers and lawsuits against SOS for slander

Skopje, 5 February, 2017 - 17:20 (META) 

NGOs and civil society organizations today sent disclaimers and are demanding an apology from Cvetin Chilimanov and Nikola Srbov, who at the press conference for the movement “Stop Operation Soros” (SOS) accused them of “working against national and democratic interests of Macedonia through attempts to influence the early parliamentary elections.”

The organizations say that the information Chilimanov and Srbov presented is slanderous and is directed at all organizations that have been critical of the work of institutions in Macedonia.

The Association of Young European Federalists (JEF Macedonia) refuted SOS’s statement claiming that their organization was created to cause tensions in Macedonia.

“Our association was established even before the Republic of Macedonia declared its independence from Yugoslavia, to be precise, in spring, 1991. Its founders, among others, were Dimitar Mirchev, Nano Ruzin (its first president) and President Gjorge Ivanov. JEF Macedonia has existed for nearly 26 years and over the years (with some interruptions) has promoted European values and the idea of Macedonia integrating into the EU”, says the disclaimer by JEF Macedonia and have announced a lawsuit if they do not receive a public apology within seven days.

More reactions came from the Gevgelija Environmental Association “Patokazi”, who alerted the presence of arsenic in the drinking water in Gevgelija.

“The goal of our formation is to provide the basic human right to clean water and a general provision of civil and democratic rights in the local community,” reads the disclaimer, adding that the SOS movement are defending “the interests of irresponsible politicians from the centre of power, the people responsible for poisoning the people of Gevgelija with toxic water full of arsenic. ”

Also, NGO “Project EU” from Kavardaci reacted to the press conference by SOS, where Chilimanov said “Project EU is supposedly a non-government organization, and the de facto party headquarters of SDSM”, who had tried to make sure children would not study mathematics.

“It is a disgusting and monstrous lie that before the election, our association received three million denars to generate a crisis within the society, and that Project EU made sure children would not learn mathematics, which is a plain lie. The Association of Citizens Project EU from Kavadarci are quite conscious in what kind of propaganda game we have been pulled into”, reads the statement and went on to state that what SOS is doing is “disgusting propaganda”.

Public Prosecution are leading the preliminary investigation against NGOs and Besa

Skopje, 4 February, 2017 - 16:43 (META) 

The Organized Crime Department at the Public Prosecution Skopje is leading the preliminary investigation for unlawful financing of the electoral process against several NGOs and the political party Besa, reports Nova TV.

The portal which is a source of the information indicates that “senior sources in the inquiry have asked to remain anonymous as they fear for their safety.”

According to them, it is non-governmental organizations who are being financed by foreign donors like the US government as well as other governments from Western countries and the “Open Society Foundation”.

The case, writes Nova TV, was formed between the 20th and 30th of December, shortly after the early parliamentary elections or to be precise, three days after VMRO-DPMNE announced their battle with the NGO sector or the so-called ” desorosization”.

Allegedly, in the preliminary investigation, senior police security services are involved.

Jankuloska: No one is untouchable, not even NGOs funded by Soros

Skopje, 30 January, 2017 - 11:59 (META) 

“No one is untouchable, not even NGOs funded by Soros … You need to have the same rules and procedures with NGOs, and institutions must be left undisturbed to act and to do work their own work,” said former Interior Minister and senior VMRO-DPMNE official Gordana Jankuloska in an interview for “Dnevnik“.

“Civil society and the functioning of NGOs is crucial for the development and functioning of a democracy. NGOs in society can be corrective of the institutions and impose issues of importance to citizens. However, the social significance that non-governmental organizations have, may be a cover for destruction and violent change of a democratically elected government. Unfortunately, for us, this is exactly what happened. The network of NGOs funded by Soros almost turned into a monopoly, their financial dominance removed them from the NGOs who have different views from their own. This destructive action, rather than being corrective for institutions, has turned them into a destructive element in society. But the world is changing, and our society is maturing”, Jankuloska said in the interview.

In the interview she speaks about the withdrawal of the charges in the “Putsch” case in the context that the “overall activity of Katica Janeva, is supported by some diplomatic representatives in the country, and in the past year their aim was to create an alibi for Zoran Zaev, Zoran Verushevski and their idols, or to be precise, their umbrella”.

In relation to the “tank” case by the SPO, she categorically denies that she participated in the purchase of the “Mercedes” worth 600,000 euros, and said that officials from the Interior Ministry are in charge of procurement, and they work professionally.