Stevo Pendarovski, the presidential candidate nominated by the SDSM – DUI coalition, had a difficult meeting with former Colored revolution supporters, where he tried to explain the conduct of the Government installed in 2017.

Especially difficult for Pendarovski was the question why he agreed with the pardons given to at half a dozen opposition members of Parliament, including the three charged with “terrorism” over the April 2017 incident in the Parliament. The three, Krsto Mukoski, Ljuben Arnaudov and Saso Vasilevski, were charged with helping open the Parliament doors during the incident, and the charges were used to pressure them to vote in favor of renaming Macedonia. They, and several of their colleagues, negotiated amnesties in exchange for their votes, which greatly disappointed the leftist activists who wanted to see as many VMRO officials as possible put in prison.

We had two good options – pursue full justice or open the doors to Euro-Atlantic integrations. When I saw the amnesty law I was relieved. Let’s put aside the fact that Krsto Mukoski opened the door of the Parliament. We were supposed to sentence him to 15 years in prison, and the protesters would’ve entered the building anyway from a different door. On the other hand, we needed to achieve a two-thirds majority and amend the Constitution, Pendarovski told a select group of Colored revolution protesters.

Other members of Parliament also received pardons – Vladanka Avirovik negotiated leniency for her son, and Zekir Ramcilovic for his political ally Seat Kocan, both of whom received reduced sentences after they voted to rename Macedonia into “North Macedonia”. Elizabeta Kanceska Milevska is yet to receive some form of pardon in the corruption charges against her. Some of the group also received financial compensation – a company owned by Mukoski’s family received significant public contracts and Ramcilovic and Emiilija Aleksandrova had close relatives hired in the public administration. The group was also feted at diplomatic events and may even join Zaev’s Government, depending on how the presidential elections  turn out.