Mass protests, brutal crackdown in Macedonia

After leaked recordings of high-level government officials (including the PM) plotting to cover up a murder surfaced, Macedonia erupted into demonstrations that were met with extreme police brutality.

The protest began after the opposition Social Democrats on Tuesday afternoon aired alleged wiretapped telephone recordings of interior minister Gordna Jankuloska, prime minister Nikola Gruevski and other top officials, which suggest they plotted to cover up official responsibility for the high-profile murder of a young man, Martin Neskovski, by a policeman on June 6, 2011.

Angry protesters, including Neskoski's mother and brother, started gathering in front of the government in the afternoon, demanding the resignation of Jankuloska and the government. The crowd, apparently assisted by a sympathetic police officer who left his guard post, initially broke through a police barricade and was stopped at only few metres from the government building's main entrance.

Inside the government building at the same time, Jankuloska was holding a press conference to repeat the government line that the tapes were cut, edited and created by unnamed "foreign secret services" in collaboration with the opposition in order to destabilise the country. She said she was not planning to resign.

The demonstration in front of the government lasted until late in the evening as protesters, joined by human rights activists, lowered flags in front of the building to half mast, chanted the Macedonian national anthem and slogans such as "No justice, no peace" at police officers. Some also threw eggs and apples at the building, breaking several windows.

Macedonian Police Hunt Down Protesters [Sinisa Jakov Marusic/Balkan Insight]