Gruevski, escape from Macedonia


THE PLOT THICKENS: How did Nikola Gruevski, who was supposed to start a jail sentence after being convicted on a corruption charge, manage to cross the border into famously asylum-seeker-allergic Hungary despite having had his passport confiscated? Balkan Insight reports the former PM of Macedonia, who is a political ally of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, traveled to the country through Albania and Montenegro as a passenger in a car. But wait, it gets better: The car was owned by the Hungarian embassy in Albania. The Albanian authorities say an arrest warrant had not yet been issued at the time of Gruevski’s border crossing.

US says Gruevski should face justice: “We believe it is appropriate for the Macedonian legal process to proceed and for Mr. Gruevski to be held accountable within the Macedonian justice system,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson told POLITICO’s Lili Bayer and Daniel Lippman.

Robert Atanasovski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
• Escape from Macedonia.
Nikola Gruevski, a former prime minister of Macedonia who ran the country as a mafia state, was due to report to prison on a conviction of abuse of power. Then he mysteriously surfaced in Hungary, where the government announced on Wednesday night that it was considering granting him asylum.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, above left with Mr. Gruevski in 2013, was unable to explain the comparatively unforgiving treatment meted out to migrant asylum seekers — “ask the lawyers,” he said.
Also unexplained: how Mr. Gruevski got out of Macedonia at all.
Mr. Orban’s party said that “Nikola Gruevski is persecuted and threatened by the current Macedonian government, which is under the influence of George Soros,” a reference to the billionaire philanthropist who has become an all-purpose scapegoat for the global right — and even for Facebook (which is scrambling to contain the fallout from that revelation).
Outraged, the Macedonian government demanded Mr. Gruevski’s extradition. The small Balkan nation is in the final stages of a wrenching political battle to change its official name, to clear a path for joining NATO. Mr. Gruevski’s party, which is friendly with Russia and Hungary, had opposed the name change.