The publication of an audio recording of Zoran Zaev in the Parliament today blew a huge hole in his claims that he had only a passing acquaintance with Bojan Jovanovski – Boki 13, the extravagant businessman who is now charged in a major racketeering case.

VMRO-DPMNE member of Parliament Antonio Milososki published the recording, which he says he received from a whistleblower. It shows Zaev discussing Boki 13’s business, saying how he was in touch with him, talked about his 1TV television and how it is being funded. Zaev specifically says that Boki 13 received the moneyfor the television from a friend in Croatia and from businessman Siljan Micevski, who was the target of extortion by Boki 13. This shows that, at the very least, Zaev was informed of Boki 13’s actions, if not directly involved in it. For good measure, Zaev adds that he helped Boki 13’s TV on several occasions.

1TV was used as a vehicle for extortion – Boki 13 and his and Zaev’s close friend Katica Janeva would reassure businessmen to buy overpriced ad campaigns in the television which was only set up shortly after Zaev grabbed power in 2017, ironically using illegally recorded phone conversations to spark a political crisis. Janeva’s son Lazar was employed as chief marketing officer in the television, and given her powerful position and ability to drag anybody before the court on flimsy charges, it made 1TV’s ad offers difficult to resist.

The audio recording confirms the suspicions that there were criminal deals made between Zoran Zaev and Bojan Jovanovski. In it, Zoran Zaev admits that he is funding 1TV, VMRO-DPMNE said in a press release issued today, and the party leader Hristijan Mickoski said that it is now absolutely clear who is at the top of the Racket scandal.

Zaev has insisted that as soon as he realized what Boki 13 is up to, he informed state prosecutors. Earlier this week, during one of the Racket hearings, the prosecution did all it could to support this position by selectively releasing a message from Boki 13’s phone, which meant to show exactly that. Meanwhile, Boki asks that the entirety of his communications are released and has hinted he may start talking and give his side of the scandal in which it is widely assumed that most of the money flowed toward Zaev and his SDSM party.

Zaev and many of his lieutenants were frequent visitors on 1TV. The television parroted SDSM talking points and hired a number of well paid SDSM supporting journalists from other outlets. Yesterday, during a press conference where he was touting the conveniently presented text message, Zaev said that he is not responsible for Boki 13, that he never asked him to support SDSM through his TV station, and that he will be held responsible if he has violated the law. But the audio today, and the expected release of more like it, instantly collapsed any enthusiasm which Zaev is trying to drum up over the latest step in Macedonia’s lengthy NATO accession process. Even the elections are again thrown in doubt, as Zaev demands tha tthe Parliaement is not dissolved until it adopts a new law on state prosecutors, which he hopes will sweep the mess caused by Katica Janeva under the rug. The law would, also conveniently, prohibit state prosecutors from using unwarranted wiretaps, like the one revealed by Milososki today, as evidence before the court.