Dear Mr. Hahn;
27 November 2017
My name is Jordan Petrovski, a political refugee from Macedonia to Canada and the Chairman of the Committee for the Democratization of Macedonia. For a short background of my activities for the past two decades or so I’m attaching some letters sent in futile attempts by our Committee to establish correspondence with representatives of Europe to Macedonia. In addition, you can access an English translation of my personal State Security Agency dossier at thepetrovskifile.blogspot.ca. Therefore, I will proceed directly to the matter at hand: the reforms in the Macedonian judiciary.
Namely, the new Social-democrat-led government’s appointees to the Commission for Judicial Reform have showed their hand as to what are the main priorities of their upcoming efforts. Under point number three of its plan for judicial reform the Commission has stated:
The second major reform concerns the Lustration Act, which was terminated in 2015. The working group has concluded that the harmful effects of the Law upon the persons victimized by it remain in effect to this day.
As a means to achieve their social rehabilitation, as well as a means to protect their personal integrity and dignity, a legal framework shall be established to terminate the measures taken against them. (Emphasis added.)
In effect, the Commission for Judicial Reform has chosen as one of its top priorities the social rehabilitation of its own members, as well as their party and ideological Comrades! Yet, nowhere in its communications to the public does the Commission even mention the conduct of lustration as per the guidelines proposed in EC Resolutions 1096 and 1481.
While our Committee was unhappy with the Lustration Act (in both of its iterations) as adopted by the Gruevski-led government, and made efforts to advise the working group on taking a more appropriate approach to this delicate issue (i.e. follow the recommendations of EC Resolutions 1096 and 1481), it is even more concerning seeing the present government embark on its crusade aimed at restoring the old order established by the Communist Party/League of Communists of Yugoslavia.
The Commission’s absolute bias is showcased when it talks about “persons victimized” by the process of Lustration and the “protection of their personal integrity and dignity”. We need not forget, however, that the persons labeled “cooperators” of the ideological police of the Communist Party of Macedonia—otherwise known as the State Security Agency—by virtue of the flawed Lustration Act, were nonetheless its collaborators. The truth of these facts was verified by the examination of official SSA documents.
Likewise, we would be wise to examine what damage, if any, to their personal integrity and dignity the “victims” of said process endured. Did any of them lose their job, or end up in prison, or lose their belongings? Were any of them placed under repressive “re-educational” measures? Were any of them forced into exile? To the best of my knowledge, none of these alleged victims suffered any injury to their person or property as a result of the Lustration Act. The people who were at the receiving end of their collaboration with the SSA, however, did. The fact that the judiciary reform Commission makes no mention of this is quite indicative of its bias.
This is hardly news. The mere idea of lustration—or rather a severing of the ties to the Communist regime of Tito’s Yugoslavia—is as unacceptable to the Macedonian elite today, as the idea of private property and the rule of law was to their parents and grandparents seven decades earlier, when then they summarily executed members of the pre-Communist intelligentsia, held Kangaroo-court trials, and paraded shopkeepers and priests to be publicly denounced and beaten like cattle on the streets. The members of the Commission for Judicial Reform see nothing wrong with the conduct of the Communist regime and their use of the ideological police known as the State Security Agency (UDB/SDB); nor do they see anything wrong with the continuation of these practices long after the dissolution of the single-party system in 1990.
Some noted members of this Commission, like prof. Mirjana Najčeska, some years ago, while attacking the idea of lustration in front of the Constitutional Court claimed that the inhumane repressive measures undertaken by the State Security Apparatus, despite their unconstitutional nature, were justified on the grounds that they were used “for the needs of the government”! (How’s that for adherence to Western values and the principle of rule of law?) When I approached the same prof. Najčeska, who along with prof. Kalajdžiev (another member of the juducial reforms Commission) were heading the Helsinki Human Rights Committee in 2005 as I was preparing my legal proceedings against several Ministry of Internal Affairs officers in Macedonia following my attainment of Convention Refugee status in Canada, they advised me that my case was of no interest to their Committee, since they saw no violation of rights where the Canadian Refugee Board did.
To be sure, the need for a lustration-style process is made all the greater by the fact that the Macedonian secret police continued to operate along the same lines as it did during the Communist era into the age of political pluralism, all the way to the present day, as we were all made aware by the wiretapping scandal that shook the country in recent years. The wiretapping, however, is only the tip of the iceberg, as no one—certainly not the SDB—collects information for its own sake. That is to say, the wiretapping is but one measure by which the SSA goes about controlling Macedonian society. The wiretapping scandal only proved that the secret police has gone on doing what it did from its inception: corrupting Macedonian society to its core.
A retired member of the Macedonian Superior Court, while speaking to DW – Macedonia, had recently this to say regarding the state security apparatus:
To be sure, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, particularly the State Security Agency, is in a desperate need of serious reform. This sector hasn’t been touched for 70-80 years. And it’s a state within the state; it’s actually more like ten states within a state. So in order to accomplish the full rights of the citizens, no reform, no action is possible without the approval of that organ. This is why reform is so difficult.
In order to give you a taste of the sort of practices the SSA exercised in the years succeeding the dissolution of Yugoslavia, I offer you the proof of my personal dossier, commenced in October of 1992—shortly after the ascent of Branko Crvenkovski’s SDSM to power—when I was a long established businessman supportive of the anti-Communist parties and movements in the newly developing pluralistic environment. My dossier is commenced on the grounds that:
“the findings and information that the SDB [State Security Service] has at its disposal indicate that he is engaged in intelligence activity for the benefit of the BNRS [Bulgarian National Intelligence Service], directed toward a forcible usurpation or endangerment of the Constitutional order and the security of the Republic,”
a standard line of work since the earliest days of Communist Yugoslavia that painted non-conformists as “ultranationalist,” presumably with the idea of painting them as being of the same cloth as, say Ratko Mladić. It was legally was justified
“on the basis of Article 16 of the Internal Affairs Act (‘Official Journal of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia’ No. 37/87), Articles 56 and 57 of the Governing Ordinances for the Operation of the SDB [State Security Service] (‘Official Journal of the Republic of Macedonia’—Special Official Journal No. 10/92)” (Emphasis added)
I was entered into “Prior Treatment,”
“on the basis of the completed research, the acquired findings and records, … because of his activity, his family origin, his social environment, as well as the findings of the suspicious environment in the sphere of commercial cooperation as an owner of a company that deals with owners of private and state-owned companies from Bulgaria. …
Our attitude and position [friendly or hostile] toward him for the next period will depend on the findings of our further study of these elements.” (Emphasis added)
Mine was one of 4,000-10,000 (a number given by the former Director of the State Archive of RM, Dr. Zoran Todorovski) such dossiers commenced in during the 1990s alone, which in style and content perfectly mirror the dossiers dating to the period preceding pluralism.
Despite being “under the measures” of the SSA for over six years, I was never charged or indicted for any wrongdoing. Yet, I was visited by SSA officers at home and at my place of business, and summoned to SSA offices on multiple occasions, questioned about my political views, I was asked to provide information to the SSA about foreign countries where I was travelling, and instructed to participate in an intrigue intended to tarnish the reputation of a political party (which I refused to do, which is why I ended up a political refugee). You can see this for yourself by perusing my dossier.
Tellingly, the judicial reforms Commission includes, among others, the man who was Minister of Internal Affairs during the bulk of the 1990s, and the man who signed off countless of warrantless, unconstitutional orders placing citizens “under measures”, prof. Dr. Ljubomir D Frčkoski. Mr. Frčkoski is on record saying that all who were under the SDB’s measures “were guilty”, despite there not being a single case where the SSA pressed charges against a suspect, and there not being a single court case convicting any one of these “guilty” parties.
My attempts at commencing legal proceedings against the MI and the persons responsible were thwarted on the grounds of statute of limitations concerns. My attempt at taking the case to the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg was shut down by a decision from a team including Margarita-Caca Nikolovska, also a member of the judicial reforms Commission.
Finally, there is scarcely a better example of the nepotism and generational corruption in the Macedonian system than the appointment of Mr. Siljan Avramovski as head of the Commission for Reforms to the State Security Apparatus (UBK). Mr. Avramovski, an officer of the UDB/UBK/SDB since 1982, was last posted to the office of Vice-Director of the UBK during the Gruevski regime. This means that Mr. Avramovski was undoubtedly personally involved in the wiretapping scandal that lead to the fall of the Gruevski government. He also happens to be the son of a former chief of the UDB’s Fifth Department—very the department responsible for communications control; while his sons are presently also employed in the Avramovski family business that is the State Security Agency. No reform to the judiciary will be possible until there is a true lustration in Macedonia, a process that will rid Macedonian society of precisely the sort of figures tasked with reforming the judicial system and the state security apparatus.
While we understand that the recommendations made by European bodies are non-binding to Macedonia, as she is not an EU member, we wish to make you aware of the severity of the police state situation as well as the state of Communist-dominated nepotism there. The lineup of the Commission intended to conduct the reforms in the Macedonian judiciary does not bode well for those aims. To expect democratic reforms from generational Communists is nothing short of lunacy. Macedonia’s elite never did and never will hold Western values as their ideal. They are the sons of the Balkan Caligula, otherwise known as Marshall Tito, and they intend to continue marching down his debauched path. Yet, these people were not created in a vacuum. They maintain their positions in Macedonian society, among all else thanks to the support—moral, financial, and otherwise—they receive from European and American institutions.
Our perusal of archival documentation concerning Macedonia from Western provenance has made us aware that the West sees the Communists and their heirs as reasonable moderates—“soft” Communists—while their opposition is portrayed as savage “ultranationalists.” We see the West hedging its bets on the gang of thugs that forced its way into power in the aftermath of World War II; we see that the West turned a blind eye to the systematic repression that the government carried out against its opposition; and we see that the West spent the past 70 years hoping to somehow make honest men out of thieves by the extension of loans, grants, and various types of aid.
There are two things we don’t see. We don’t see the termination of these “gravy train” programs. And we don’t see the paying of attention to the voices to true dissent, of Macedonia’s anti-communists. You may have a hard time believing this, but they do exist. And they’ve always stood for Western values, for freedom for all, and most importantly, for the rule of law. Until this perspective becomes clear to those dealing with Macedonia, you will find no success in your efforts to adopt Macedonia to the European flock.
Committee for the Democratization of Macedonia