Former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski fled his country under controversial circumstances and arrived in Budapest last week seeking political asylum after failing to show up to begin a two-year prison sentence for corruption.
According to AFP, Albanian police confirmed that Gruevski crossed the Macedonian-Albanian border illegally by foot. Later, he crossed the Albania-Montenegro border using a Hungarian diplomatic vehicle. Gruevski’s passport was confiscated last year and although he submitted a request for its return last fall, his application was denied. Gruevski used a regular identification document at the Montenegro border and left the country the same day. Police added that at the time of his passage, Interpol had not yet issued a warrant for his arrest. Therefore, he was not technically a wanted person.
Police and Balkan newspapers say Gruevski indicated his intent to apply for asylum at the Tirana Embassy and Hungarian authorities decided that — for safety reasons — the former Prime Minister should apply for asylum in Hungary with a hearing held in Budapest. However, Hungary insists it had no hand in his escape from Macedonia.
According to Aslat-M television, it is likely the whole plan was arranged months before he fled Macedonia. Around September, Gruevski allegedly emptied all of his Macedonian bank accounts after accusing the Macedonian government of political persecution.
Balkan Insight reported the arrest of two Macedonian secret policemen, Goran Grujovski and Nikola Boskovski, last year in Thessaloniki airport when they tried to flee to Budapest using fake Bulgarian passports. The pair were wanted for their alleged involvement in the illegal wiretapping scandal that led to Gruevski’s resignation.
Macedonia is preparing to make a formal request to Hungary for his extradition. Meanwhile, authorities are investigating the circumstances of Gruevski’s escape and any potential helpers.
Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev confirmed that Gruevski had fled to Hungary using a Hungarian diplomatic vehicle. He also publicly questioned whether the ex-Prime Minister had left Macedonia voluntarily before the confirmation of his prison term or whether he was kidnapped. He expects Gruevski and Hungary to answer this question.
Hungarian pro-government news portal Origo and officials from Fidesz claim that Gruevski was “persecuted and threatened by a leftwing government on which the influence of George Soros can be clearly seen.” They claim that Gruevski was threatened by agents of the “Soros network” because of his anti-migrant policies and “for protecting the borders from migrants.”
The Macedonian police began searching for the ex-Prime Minister on Monday after he failed to show up to begin a prison sentence for abuse of office. The country’s prosecutors swiftly issued a warrant for his arrest. On Tuesday, Gruevski announced on Facebook that he is in Budapest. Since then, several theories have flooded domestic, Macedonian and international news outlets regarding how he arrived in the country and where he is staying.
via bbc.co.uk, theguardian.com, meta.mk, 24.hu, origo.hu, AFP, Reuters