The police is looking for Saso Mijalkov, former head of the UBK security service, after the court ordered him into house arrest. The powerful former official and businessman, who held his office during Nikola Gruevski’s terms as Prime Minister, was charged by the Zaev regime in numerous criminal cases and faces sentencing later this week over allegations of wiretapping.
Mindful of the danger of him fleeing the country, the court ordered him into house arrest, but yesterday evening it was reported that the police could not find him in either of the two locations listed as his residence. Police reportedly also searched the Marriott hotel in downtown Skopje, which serves as Mijalkov’s base of operations.
Alsat-M TV is reporting that an arrest warrant was issued for Mijalkov covering all border crossings. Gruevski famously left the country in early 2019, before he was ordered to begin serving a prison sentence, and received political asylum in Hungary.
Zaev’s SDSM party and its affiliated NGO groups and media outlets turned Mijalkov into a hate figure second only to Gruevski while he was in power, and especially during the 2015 Colored Revolution accused him of a long lists of crimes and murders (some of the typical portrayals of Mijalkov in the SDSM press – as a wiretapping crime boss).
Many of the most egregious cases were later debunked as false, as the claims Zaev raised during the protests were proven as fake one by one. In some of the most significant cases, Mijalkov faced money laundering charges for his involvement in a string of businesses with Jordan Orce Kamcev. The so-called Empire case, initiated like many others by Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva, turned into an attempt by Janeva to extort money from Kamcev, and her eventual arrest and prosecution, leading to the implosion of the Special Prosecutor’s Office.
The case in which Mijalkov faces sentencing this week is the original wiretapping case. In it, Zoran Zaev and one of Mijalkov’s predecessors as head of the UBK service Zoran Verusevski were charged with illegal wiretapping of thousands of phones and using the recordings to blackmail politicians (primarily Gruevski) and to try to grab power. Even after an UBK technician admitted he was working in coordination with Verusevski, Janeva turned the case on its head, dropped the charges against Zaev and Verusevski, and blamed Mijalkov for it. Prosecutor Lence Ristovska, one of the top figures of Janeva’s team who remains in office and continues to lead the wiretapping case, asked to court to order the maximum, 13 years sentence for Mijalkov last week.
After the numerous cases launched against him, Mijalkov forged a political (and reportedly, business) alliance with Zaev. He supported the name change and worked with a group of former VMRO-DPMNE members of Parliament who were also being persecuted by Zaev, or received various perks and businesses, and eventually voted in favor of the name change – even after the 2018 name change referendum failed miserably due to low turnout and popular boycott. Shortly after Mijalkov was expelled from the party, but continued to work with a group of former party officials – mostly mayors who were accused of approving massive construction in Skopje in favor of major developers – to try and create a faction in VMRO. Just this weekend this faction, known as the “Marriott coalition”, held what they declared as a separate party congress and demanded that Hristijan Mickoski is removed as party leader. The low attendance at the event (several dozen former party officials) was dwarfed by the nearly 50,000 signatures the party collected across the country in opposition to the census law that Zaev is pushing. It was widely reported that Mijalkov is desperately pushing the “congress” and trying to cleave VMRO in an attempt to curry favor with Zaev and avoid going to prison.
A recent audio leak, from a conversation in 2016, showed that Zaev and Mijalkov were conducting secret negotiations while the Colored Revolution was still on-going. The tape shed new light on Mijalkov’s subsequent actions – during the name change vote in Parliament and his attempts to bring down Mickoski and create a faction in VMRO, but was also the latest betrayal of the stated principles of the “revolution”, which as one of its main purposes had the removal of Mijalkov from power and an investigation into the numerous business deals and other crimes that SDSM attributed to him.