Apostol Simovski, the head of the State Statistics Bureau, dismissed one of the most frequently repeated claims by Zoran Zaev, while he was in the opposition. Zaev and his SDSM party insisted that there is a huge number of phantom voters on the electoral rolls, and refused to participate in elections in 2016 until some 100.000 emigrants had their voting rights restricted.

And yet now Simovski, who is appointed by Zaev’s Government, says that there was never an issue with the electoral rolls.

Everybody could inspect the electoral rolls, and see that there are no phantom voters there. There are people who have failed to report a change of address, especially when they’ve moved out of the country, but they remain citizens. There was the case of a police station in Lisice which had citizens registered as living at that address, but that was a newly built station, it used to be a house and the people who lived there failed to alter their address, Simovski said.

Simovski’s statement comes at a time when Zaev is launching a campaign against “fake news”, blaming his political opponents of sharing untruths. And yet, not a day goes by that some of Zaev’s own outlandish claims is denied, including the central claims of exposing corruption on the part of the previous Government and several very emotional incidents such as the 2012 Good Friday massacre.