VMRO-DPMNE Vice President Aleksandar Nikoloski insists that Healthcare Minister Venko Filipce is not being removed for the deadly fire in the modular Covid hospital in Tetovo because he diverts the portion of procurement contracts in the public healthcare toward Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and his businesses. Filipce rose quickly through the ranks of the SDSM party and became an indispensable part of Zaev’s retinue, especially after Zaev’s handpicked director of the FZO public healthcare fund, Den Doncev, fled to Australia when he was caught extorting money from healthcare providers.

You see a mafia in action. They operate under the principle – if one falls, they all fall. We who have more experience with Zaev knew from day one that Filipce won’t be removed, and that there will be no accountability for the loss of 14 lives. The reason for this is that Filipce and his deputy Ilir Hasani are in real-estate business together, and they are bagmen who deliver the profits from public contracts to Vice Zaev in the Villa Park hotel in Strumica. They simply know too much, Nikoloski said during the VMRO rally in Skopje’s main Centar district.

One of the numerous corruption scandals dogging Filipce is his involvement in the construction of a large luxury residential development in Vodno – one of the most expensive areas in Skopje – where Hasani is his partner.

The excuses that the officials are not to blame, and that he fault for the fire is to be found in an extension cord or a phone charger are preposterous. Fourteen people lost their lives in a hospital, where they went to seek treatment. They burnt alive. And now we listen to these preposterous excuses, Nikoloski said.

A forensics report that was published today pointed to an extension cord that was used to power both a defibrilator and other devices as the reason for the fire. It steered clear from looking into the building materials of the hospital, which were clearly flammable. The hospital was built in a crony contract by a company owned by one of Zaev’s former Deputy Prime Minister Koco Angjusev, that was approved by Filipce.