VMRO-DPMNE spokesman Dimitar Arsovski revealed that one of the suspected drug runners arrested last week in a series of raids in and aroud Skopje was a registered census worker.

This is a major scandal and the head of the State Statistics Bureau Apostol Simovski needs to resign over this. Was there no filter when the census workers were selected?, Arsovski asked.

The SDSM – DUI coalition was busily preparing for a “corona census” that was supposed to start this week, and was hiring party activists as census workers. Party leaders Zaev and Ahmeti were dead set on holding an in-person census despite the exceptionally high coronavirus infection rate and faced public calls for boycott. Eventually, VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski got Zaev to agree to postpone the census for September.

The drug raids were focused on the village of Grcec, west of Skopje, as well as several downtown areas of the capital, specifically at two Albanian mafia gangs. After the arrests, only a small quantity of drugs and cash was seized and prosecutor Vilma Ruskoska acknowledged that word of the impending raids leaked, and as result, the five top suspects fled. One of them was revealed to be the person on election campaign photographs with President Stevo Pendarovski, who was forced to deny any links to the gang. SDSM is growing more and more reliant on Albanian votes, including through the practice of ballot stuffing, and this requires the cooperation of local gangs. SDSM got nearly all of the 500 votes cast in Grcec during the 2019 presidential elections. Pendarovski won the elections only owing to the near-unanimous Albanian support.