[JURIST] The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] on Tuesday expressed deep concern at the ongoing political predicament surrounding the release of incriminating audio recordings of conversations between officials in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The content of the tapes raises concerns [press release] of election fraud, interference with the judiciary and mass surveillance. Opposition leader Zoran Zaev of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) [party website, in Macedonian] has released a number of audio recordings since February, implicating government officials in ethnically-motivated surveillance programs [BBC report], as well as politicians for the opposition party, journalists and religious leaders. Recordings also indicate a scheme to manipulate voter registration records [AP report], and coerce government employees and other voters to back the ruling Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) [party website, in Macedonian]. Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski has dismissed calls for a snap election [Reuters report] and a transitional government, claiming that the wire taps are the work of a foreign government colluding with Zaev to destabilize the country. The OHCHR urges the Macedonian authorities to launch an impartial investigation into all allegations, and to ensure the accountability of all wrongdoers, regardless of political affiliation.
Tensions have escalated in Macedonia since its April 2014 elections [Reuters report], in which the Gruevski’s VMRO-DPMNE party again won the election, leading to Gruevski’s fourth consecutive term as prime minister amid allegations of fraud. Zaev was charged in January for attempting to overthrow the government [Agency Focus report, in Macedonian] with the aid of an unnamed foreign intelligence agency. In September a Macedonian court found Zaev guilty of slandering Gruevski [JURIST] for claiming that Gruevski took a bribe in 2004 to facilitate a Serbian businessman’s purchase of a bank in Macedonia.