Macedonia MP Supporters 'Outnumber' Protesters at Monday Rally
Macedonia is subject to "dictatorship of the political minority", PM Nikola Gruevski told tens of thousands of supporters who attended the pro-government rally in Skopje on Monday evening.
The demonstration organized by his VMRO-DPMNE party came just a day after the opposition SDSM, led by Strumica Mayor Zoran Zaev, called in anti-government protest which were immediately described by analysts as the largest rally in the country's 24-year-long democratic history.
Both supportive and critical media outlets in the country, however, have argued Monday's demonstration brought together more citizens. Daily Utrinski vesnik, which frequently slams at Gruevski for his policies and his response to recent political scandal, puts the number at "about 80 000 citizens". Other sources' estimates suggest up to 40 000 attended.
"Macedonia is neither Nikola Gruevski nor Zoran Zaev. This is Macedonia. These people, you, are the best response to all those scriptwriters who strongly believe they will break us up, brainwash us, that they will lies to us with made-up, cut out and edited recordings," Gruevski said, referring to a series of recordings released by Zaev alleging corruption and massive wiretapping on behalf of the PM's government and closest aides.
Since the first release of recordings in January, Zaev has demanded that Gruevski step down to make way for an interim government, but the PM has reiterated he was elected by the people and will not resign.
In the past few weeks the country has been rocked by anti-government protests which were followed by a deadly attack in Kumanovo, northwestern Macedonia, which claimed the lives of eight police officers. Skopje claims the assault was organized and carried out by one of the "most dangerous groups" in the Balkans.
On Tuesday, Zaev and Gruevski are to meet in Strasbourg after failing to reach an agreement on solving the country's political crisis. There will also be a third Skopje meeting on May 26.
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