SDSM party official Frosina Remenski, who was the party’s designated “fall girl” in the Racket scandal, called on her fellow party members to tone down their sudden infatuation with former VMRO-DPMNE party officials such as Saso Mijalkov and Nikola Todorov. The two were for a long time hate figures for SDSM, second only to Nikola Gruevski. But now both have an apparent alliance with SDSM leader Zoran Zaev, and are advancing his political goals. This created a curious situation that Remenski pointed to in a social media comment.
Zaev’s 2015 Colored Revolution was largely based on demonizing Gruevski, Mijalkov, and Todorov. Todorov in particular was labeled as “The Death Minister” by SDSM activists, who accused him that as Healthcare Minister he deliberately denied treatment abroad to a girl born with a severe spine deformity. The girl died during the protests, and SDSM activists would follow Todorov around shouting “death, death”, and staged morbid “birthday celebrations” for the girl in front of the Ministry – despite Todorov’s claims that the funds for the surgery were approved but that no doctor would agree to operate on such a difficult case. The mob was so riled up that in 2017, on the day Todorov was leaving his office from the Ministry as Zaev’s Government took over, the girls’ grandfather waited for him and fired two shots, narrowly missing Todorov.
After a brief hiatus from politics, Todorov joined the faction led by Mijalkov, supported the imposed name change and now aggitates against VMRO leader Hristijan Mickoski. Gruevski also broke relations with him, accusing unnamed party officials of stabbing “little knives in his back” – a reference widely believed to refer to Todorov’s handling of negotiations with SDSM and foreign diplomats in Skopje in 2015 and 2016 during the Colored Revolution. His new political orientation immediately landed him media spots with SDSM affiliated outlets – the same ones who called him “The Death Minister”, and his comments are now widely shared by those who were loudest in denouncing him in the past.
And if Todorov was blamed for the death of one badly sick little girl, SDSM blamed Mijalkov for everything and anything under the sun – murders, drug trafficking, running dozens of businesses in the country, wiretapping. And yet, the former security service chief is even more useful to Zaev now, leading the faction against Mickoski and helping Zaev get to the 81 votes he needed to impose the name change on Macedonia. The alliance is so in the open that when Mijalkov fled from the police last week the public widely assumed that Zaev allowed him to go, as compensation for his services. Mijalkov, who is now in detention after reluctantly returning to the country and being sentenced to 12 years in prison, does not do media events like Todorov, but set up a Facebook page where he is also critical of Mickoski and works to divide the party and ease Zaev’s difficult position at the top of a very small ruling coalition.
And this is what set Remenski off. In a comment she complained that “I have social-democrats sending me invitations to like the Facebook page of the ‘public personality Saso Mijalkov’. They forward me editorials from the ‘reformer’ Nikola Todorov. The send me pictures of similar ‘reformers’. Guys, you’re barking up the wrong tree. You’re praising those who we fought against”, Remenski wrote, reminding her fellow Colored Revolutionaries of their recently held positions about Mijalkov and Todorov. “Have you lost your minds?”, she added.
The former deputy SDSM party leader and Deputy Speaker of Parliament has her own reasons to be angry at her party. She was the only party official charged in the major Racket scandal, as Zaev faced serious questions about his own involvement. It is widely assumed that the high level extortion done by former Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva and several associates of hers could not happen without direct involvement of the top of the ruling party, but eventually Remenski was the only one who faced charges, and she was quickly abandoned by her party. But this also makes her less ready to agree to the incredible U-turn that the rest of the party is doing in endorsing people who until recently were some of their most hated figures, like Mijalkov and Todorov.