With two days to go before he leaves office, President Gjorge ivanov still hasn’t announced whether he intends to pardon the victims of Zoran Zaev’s persecution of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party.

Some of those already sentenced to lengthy prison sentences, like the 16 VMRO officials and activists put in prison on “terrorism” charges over the April 2017 incident in the Parliament, officially asked the President to pardon them. Zaev’s Justice Minister Renata Deskoska, announced that she will slow-roll the request and will try to deny Ivanov the ability to use his presidential prerogative. Either way, the victims of the persecution demand that Ivanov at least tries.

On May 12th the new President, Stevo Pendarovski, takes over, and for the political prisoners it will end all hope at release. The case is particularly jarring, since Zaev approved an amnesty law for some of the defendents, especially the three former VMRO members of Parliament whose votes he needed in order to rename the country. Not only was this group released, they are busy getting public procurement contracts and having their relatives hired in the public service. Meanwhile, protests activists, or Interior Ministry officials who are blamed for not predicting the incident which was initiated by Zaev himself, are sentenced to a decade and half in prison each.

Ivanov faced threats from pro-Zaev media. The Fokus weekly ran on its cover a rebuke of Zaev for “pardoning” Ivanov, calling on the Prime Minister to extend his campaign of persecution on the President as well. Zaev’s coalition partner Ali Ahmeti also warned Ivanov of “consequences” if he uses his right to pardon the political prisoners (both Zaev and Ahmeti have received pardons or amnesties – Zaev for corruption and Ahmeti for war crimes).

It is widely believed that if Ivanov, the last conservative office holder of some importance in the country, leaves office without using the right to pardon, it will be due to threats and intimidation on the part of the Government.