The Mayor of Kumanovo Maksim Dimitrievski, who challenged his own SDSM party and especially Zaev’s Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski with his independent run for re-election, informed that public that he is being arrested today.
In a live Facebook stream, Dimitrievski said that he is ordered to follow a police patrol, allegedly because they wanted to perform a mechanical check on his vehicle. The police has the right to order such a check, but this is often abused to intimidate opposition activists, especially to prevent opposition buses to attend rallies. But the use of this tactic against the Mayor of one of the largest cities in Macedonia is a new low.
At this moment I am being escorted as if I were the biggest criminal in this country, and not the Mayor of the largest municipality. The police is using flashlights to escort me, they seized the documents from my vehicle even though it is new and in proper working order, and with this they are preventing me from conducting my re-election campaign. I demand that Minister Spasovski informs me what is the reason for this, to tell me what is going on in Kumanovo, Dimitrievski said.
The Interior Ministry issued a statement claiming that traffic police stopped Dimitrievski because he had tainted windows on the car – which is technically illegal but widely tolerated.
Dimitrievski was elected in 2017 on the SDSM party ticket, but soon began to challenge Zoran Zaev for the concessions he is making with Macedonian national identity issues. Dimitrievski also accused Zaev of not providing support to Kumanovo during the coronavirus crisis, because of his rivalry with Minister Spasovski for control of the SDSM branch in Kumanovo.
As Zaev was planning not to allow Dimitrievski to run for re-election, and to nominate a Spasovski loyalist instead, Dimitrievski ran an independent campaign and narrowly won in the first round. With VMRO-DPMNE ranked third in the city, and likely to offer support to Dimitrievski in the second round, the Zaev regime is apparently pulling all stops to gain control of the city, even abusing the police. SDSM lost in all other major urban centers except for Zaev’s stronghold of Strumica, and gaining Kumanovo by all means necessary could be one way for Zaev to declare that he didn’t lose the elections in a wave vote.