Budapest, Hungary | 03 Feb 2019 (Tirana Echo) – Former Macedonian PM Nikola Gruevski has said he fled to Hungary in order to avoid death threats over information he would be killed in prison, after receiving a two year prison sentence.
During an interview for Sitel TV in Macedonia, Gruevski said he was not scared to confront the prison sentence given to him by a Skopje court and continue the legal battle, however, fresh information that he would be assassinated in confinement made him change his mind.
“I received information from people who were well informed inside prison, that someone was planning my elimination in jail, and this made me change my decision and leave Macedonia,” Gruevski said.
Gruevski fled to Budapest in November 2018 after passing through Albania, Montenegro and Serbia following a conviction on corruption charges and a 2-year jail sentence. Reportedly, his friend Viktor Orban arranged for political asylum to be granted to Gruevski, over political persecution pretences in Macedonia.
Gruevski, who was prime minister of Macedonia from 2006 to 2016, was convicted in May over a €600.000 state money used to buy a luxury Mercedes for personal use.
In April 2017, his VMRO-DPMNE party supporters stormed into the parliament building, injuring several MPs and journalists, including former social-democratic opposition leader Zoran Zaev.
Gruevski, known for his pro Russian stance and involvement in high levels of corruption, was replaced in May 2017 by social democratic leader Zoran Zaev, following a period of dirty tapping recordings which brought down the Gruevski Klan from power.
Following the election of Mr. Zaev to the premiership, the small Balkan country has agreed an historic deal with its southern neighbor Greece to change its name to ‘North Macedonia’ and has since signed a membership protocol with NATO, while it expects to formally start membership talks with the European Union later this year.
Last year, EU member states agreed to a European Commission recommendation to open accession talks for Macedonia to join the European Union, a scenario which looks more feasible now following the landmark agreement between Athens and Skopje.
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