Zoran Zaev’s former Deputy Prime Minister Koco Angjusev was put on the US black list today. The energy trader who invested in other businesses including construction was elevated to political power byZaev after the Colored Revolution, and put in charge of coordinating the economic sector in the Government.

The United States is designating Kocho Angjushev, a former Deputy Prime Minister of Macedonia, as generally ineligible for entry into the United States, due to his involvement in significant corruption. While serving as Deputy Prime Minister, Angjushev abused his official position to benefit his private business interests, undermining the confidence of North Macedonia’s public in their government institutions and public processes. Today’s action demonstrates the United States stands with those in Macedonia who seek accountability of corrupt public officials. This designation reaffirms the U.S. commitment to counter corruption, which harms the public interest, hampers countries’ economic prosperity, and curtails the ability of governments to respond effectively to the needs of their people, US State Department Matthew Miller informed today.

Angjusev was recently called out by the US Embassy in Skopje after his slander court case against a news site, IRL, which reported on his moves to favor oil importing companies that also worked with his businesses. Angjusev won the case against IRL, receiving symbolic damages, as the court insisted that the Western funded news site should not be considered a media outlet but a civic organization. US Ambassador Aggeler met with the IRL journalists to express her support. Today she tweeted that Macedonia faces an epidemic of corruption.

Today’s designation of former Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Kocho Angjushev and his family is further proof the United States will continue to sanction corrupt actors in this country and across the region, regardless of their position, political affiliation, or timing of the abuses. More designations will be coming, but the fact is that our efforts and our sanctions cannot fix Macedonia’s epidemic of corruption. Ultimately, it is up to the officials and citizens of this country to demand accountability and change, Aggeler said.

Far more serious allegations involving Angjusev include his role in the construction of a dozen improvised Covid hospital wards at the height of the pandemic. His company BRAKO was awarded the contract while he was part of the Government, and usual construction requirements were avoided citing the urgency of the need to make more hospital beds available. On September 8th 2021 – as a parade was taking place in downtown Skopje to mark the 30th Independence Day – a fire broke out in the Covid ward in Tetovo, quickly consuming the ward and killing 14 patients and family members. Prosecutors did not charge either Healthcare Minister Venko Filipce, who led the construction process, or Angjusev, even after it became clear that the hospital wards were built with flammable materials.

The US Government, which strongly supported the Zaev regime, has so far mainly designated people from the former leadership of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party on its black list, and one token ethnic Albanian politician. But the previous round of designations included a reference to Zoran Zaev’s corruption, when listing the activities of a Montenegrin businessman with ties to Russia who was courting major investment deals with Zaev. Angjusev’s place on the State Department’s list is the second such warning signal aimed at Zaev, who is currently out of politics, but still remains highly influential in the SDSM party.