The SDSM party has remained silent on the shocking audio leak that shows its leader Zoran Zaev being involved with a controversial Montenegrin businessman who was suspected of funding Russian interests in this country.

The leak shows a local criminal with close links to Zaev, Zoran Mileski – Zoki Kiceec, talking to the Montenegrin businessman Miodrag Davidovic. Kiceec offers to organize another meeting between Davidovic and Zoran Zaev, as well as Zaev’s Secretary General Dragi Raskovski, but Davidovic protests that it will just lead to more attempts to extort money from him. It is clear from the conversation that Davidovic has paid hundreds of thousands of euros to people close to Zaev in order to be allowed to get in on a real-estate construction and hydro plant deals in Tetovo and Stip. He tells Kiceec that if he meets Zaev now, he will just ask him for more money and will use it to fund the campaign for the name change referendum.

But you yourself told Raskovski that if there is something he needs about the referendum, you’ll be there. He told me so himself. I’m just quoting you. I see you’re angry now but I don’t know why. Also with the Albanians (uses a slur word) in Tetovo, I told you, let’s sit down with them, Kiceec is heard mollifying Davidovic in the tape, to which Davidovic, apparently sick of being extorted, says “you keep setting me up over the referendum… what am I supposed to do, fund your referendum?”

Davidovic is a former intelligence official in Montenegro who has been close to the ruling DPS party and used his position to take over the major Niksic steel works. He has since moved into real-estate development in various cities in Montenegro, but is also a major financial supporter of the Serbian church there, and has supported the pro-Serbian opposition. When the opposition was suspected of trying to stage a coup in 2016, allegedly in an attempt to prevent Montenegro’s entry into NATO on behalf of Russia, Davidovic was accused of funding the coup attempt.