Journalist Branko Geroski, who recently withdrew his long lasting support for the Zoran Zaev regime, published a third edition of his series of articles in which he details examples of corruption by SDSM party officials, operating through an unnamed but easily recognizable media outlet.
In this latest installment, Geroski claims that an SDSM official and the media outlet owner are using their access to wiretaps, which they say come from the cache held by Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva, to blackmail politicians and businessmen and extract money from them. In the atmosphere of wholesale political persecution in Macedonia, the group of powerful political and media figures are seen as reliably threatening people with arrest and promise to help them avoid legal troubles if they pay up.
Geroski has refused to directly name the perpetrators, and only identifies the chief SDSM party official involved in the extortion as “Kiki”, while the flamboyant media owner is named “Koki”.
According to Geroski, this duo extorted 200.000 EUR from a former Mayor of a Skopje district, who has already faced a number of legal issues as part of the persecution by the Zaev regime.
The seances of this group are held in establishments in Skopje. “Koki”, the boss, wants to impress the victim so he usually gets not only the much respected “Kiki” to attend but also another notable member of the ruling party, jet set personalities, intelligence people and similar hangers-on. Whiskey is served, and sometimes marijuana and that substance consumed in halfs (cannabis oil which is legal in Macedonia), Geroski writes in a clear a reference to the drug scandal by SDSM member of Parliament Pavle Bogoevski, who claimed that he has been purchasing cannabis oil from a dealer, while the public widely speculated cocaine use.
Geroski adds that the extortion racket is performed in such a way that after a while the other visitors leave, and the mark is left with “Koki” and “Kiki”, who ask him to donate money to help out “Koki”‘s media outlet. The group claims that they need the money to use “Koki”‘s outlet to protect the Special Prosecutor’s Office from media attacks by the opposition, and all the while remind the victim that this organization has a large cache of secretly recorded phone conversations and is capable of opening additional investigations. At one point, the two warn the mark that he can face legal trouble for some of his previous activities and the blackmail is ironically portrayed as protection money to prevent the return of the previous, VMRO-DPMNE led Government, which might get the mark in trouble.
I was told that the Mayor in question paid without a word. He has been broken for a while, part of his property and businesses were already taken away, and after the change of the Government, he has many leaches on his back. One more or less, makes no difference, Geroski writes, claiming that the unnamed Mayor paid 200.000 EUR to “Koki” and “Kiki” to get them off his case, but that others are not so easily pressured and require several meetings with the duo before they agree to pay up. Geroski claims that the ruling party has several such group which blackmail businessmen using their proximity to power.
Several media outlets and politicians have openly identified the media outlet, its owner and the SDSM politician portrayed by Geroski, and have pointed out that there are personal ties between the SPO and the media outlet. Geroski insists that he will not name the outlet directly just yet. He adds that business owners who have been targeted have announced that they will go public soon and point their fingers to the media outlet.
In the two previous installments, Geroski described the near fatal blackmail of a small hotel owner and the attempt by this group to secure a piece of publicly owned land from the Mayor of the city “Kiki” comes from. In the third article, Geroski claims that the group was given a valuable, publicly owned lakeside property by the Mayor of a major tourist center in Macedonia, ostensibly to build a humanitarian facility, and quickly sold it to a commercial developer from a near-by city for two million EUR.