One of the NGO groups who are sharing in the 500.000 EUR awarded by the Government shortly ahead of the elections belongs to Jasna Mandic Ercegovic, who is co-defendant in the Racket 2 trial. Mandic was a key assistant to showman Bojan Jovanovski – Boki 13, who was sentenced to nine years in prison yesterday for his role in the Racket scandal.
The fact that Mandic is at the center of a major racketeering scandal and is in house arrest awaiting the beginning of the Racket 2 trial did not prevent the Government from paying 14.500 EUR to the Resource Center NGO, that is set up by Mandic. “Is this payment a form of bribe meant to discourage Mandic from testifying in the Racket scandal? Is the purpose of this payment to try and shift the scandal away from Zoran and Vice Zaev?”, asked Ivanka Vasilevska from VMRO-DPMNE, who presented the details of the scandalous contract at a press conference today.
The SDSM led Government hugely inflated the funds given to NGO groups, many of which were part of the 2015/16 Colored Revolution that helped bring Zaev and his SDSM party to power. After reducing the 12 million EUR NGO budget by half a million due to the coronavirus crisis, the Government soon agreed to restore this small reduction and began distributing the money just in time for the elections, when these activist groups are vocal in presenting policies and shaping public opinion.
There were 549 applications and only 40 NGOs received funding. One of them is Mandic’s group. There were just six days to apply and two days to evaluate the poposals. In other words, a Committee was able to go through 5.490 pages of proposals in just 48 hours, or, more realistically, the money were given to pre-approved groups, Vasilevska said.
Mandic is charged precisely with abusing a bogus NGO group she set up with Boki 13 for extortion. This group, called the International Association, received a million EUR from two construction companies in exchange for a promise that they will participate in lucrative real-estate development deals that would receive public funding and be approved by the ruling SDSM party using Boki 13’s connections.