Prime Minister Zoran Zaev was called out by the press today about the humiliating escape of Igor Spasov, whose murder of 20 year old Martin Neskovski in 2011 was used by Zaev in the propaganda campaign during his rise to power. The Prime Minister sheepishly assured the press that the institutions under his control did nothing wrong and urged the Interior Ministry to look for Spasov, as rumors spread that the former policeman has fled to Turkey by now.

I expect the investigation to reveal where he is. I read that he has escaped in the press. The institutions are acting in accordance witjh the law. Any person serving out a sentence has the right to take a weekend off. All procedures were followed and I expect the Interior Ministry to quickly find what is going on, Zaev said.

Spasov brutally beat Neskovski to death in 2011, during the post election celebration held by the VMRO-DPMNE party. Due to the large crowd, and Spasov’s attempts to cover up his involvement, it took days for the Interior Ministry to get to the bottom of the murder, but afterwards the police moved quickly to arrest Spasov, who was prosecuted and given a lengthy prison sentence. The then opposition SDSM party jumped on the case and initiated a dark propaganda campaign accusing top officials of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party of trying to shield Spasov and cover up the murder.

This went into overdrive in 2015, when Zaev revealed wiretaps edited to support he claim of a cover-up. This sparked violent protests by SDSM supporters and clashes with the police in downtown Skopje, and energized Zaev’s Colored Revolution that led to his power – grab. The recent publication of the unedited wiretaps relevant to this case show the extent to which Zaev edited the conversations and took them out of context.

Spasov was treated with velved gloves during Zaev’s rule. Zaev cordially met him during his tour of the Idrizovo prison in 2017, and later Spasov was allowed into a series of lengthy medical leaves, totalling a year. He was supposed to return to prison after his latest leave ended earlier this month, but instead he went missing.

For some of the leaders and activists of the Colored Revolution, who once painted the main Skopje square red to symbolize Neskovski’s murder and the falsely alleged cover-up, Spasov’s escape is the final straw. Vladimir Milcin, the former head of the Soros funded Open Society Foundation, which provided much of the funding and the activists for the protests, shared a picture of Zaev shaking Spasov’s hand juxtaposed over a picture of one of the protests, and ridiculed Zaev’s current election slogan – On the right path. “Spasov is on the right path (has fled), and we are not”, the comment said.