Political Meltdown In Macedonia Shows Destabilizing Effect Of Massive Government Surveillance

from the what-a-mess dept

Techdirt writes a lot about surveillance and its potential dangers. But if you want to see the reality of abusive governmental spying, look no further than Macedonia, where a huge surveillance scandal is unfolding (original in German, found via @Netzpolitik):

In a press conference announced weeks ago, opposition leader Zoran Zaev accused Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of being responsible for a massive wiretapping scandal. Those spied upon include government ministers, opposition politicians, journalists, entrepreneurs and many members of the judiciary and the security apparatus.

"More than 20,000 people in Macedonia have been monitored over the years," said Zaev. "We have evidence that there has been a comprehensive, illegal wiretap program, on the direct instructions of the head of intelligence Saso Mijalkov and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski."
With targeted surveillance affecting 1% of the population, it is hard to believe that alongside immediately useful information about what political opponents and key figures in society were saying and doing, a certain amount of blackmail material wasn't collected by the government spies and squirrelled away for future use. According to the Deutschlandfunk story translated above, for his part, Gruevski alleges that Zaev threatened to release damaging material he had obtained unless elections were called immediately.

The whole situation is a mess, and at its heart lies uncontrolled, abusive surveillance, where the inevitable leaks of incriminating material have now destabilized the entire political system. Sadly, there's no obvious way out. As the article notes, the lack of press freedom or even an independent judiciary in Macedonia means that it will be very hard to get to the bottom of what is happening here, and then move on.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

Filed Under: macedonia, privacy, surveillance


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 12 Feb 2015 @ 12:54am

    I think that more important than some politicians waving the evidence and threatening is how the population is reacting to such things. Suppose the Americans reacted much more strongly and mobilized by the millions on the streets when Snowden broke all the scandal. Things certainly would have been different as the politicians heads would be on the line, it would be conclusively poisonous not to act to stop the surveillance apparatus. So it all boils down on how engaged that specific society is. Given there's no press freedom it would seem the population isn't that active.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Peter, 12 Feb 2015 @ 6:53am

      Re:Surveillance

      It is wrong to assume that the government is spying on its people.The facts speak otherwise.Mr.Zaev of the opposition clearly stated to former intelligence chief that everything is set,and that the foreign intelligence and the premier of
      that country gave him all the surveillance material for the destabilization of the country.This surveillance was produced by foreign agents,not by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia as this article assumes.EU must take full responsibility for this because a EU member country was involved in the destabilization of a candidate country.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2015 @ 7:56am

      Re:

      ...engaged that specific society is. Given there's no press respect it would seem the population isn't that active.

      FTFY. The US press has freedom. What it doesn't have is respect. So long as the press does 'fluff' stories and no 'investigative' stories, including those that may not be popular, the population will not take anything seriously.

      And that includes stories that goes against the political will.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 12 Feb 2015 @ 1:37am

    sounds like they will be experiencing martial law soon with a chance at a dictatorship.

    call me cynical but I just don't see a government willing to break its own laws to spy on their citizens willing to give up when exposed.

    I do expect them to go into full blown panic mode and break even more laws to take back control

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2015 @ 4:20am

    Now replace "Macedonia" with "USA" and see how no one gives a crap, the corruption and scandals will always be the rule of thumb.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 12 Feb 2015 @ 5:54am

    I hope the US is paying attention to this

    It is an excellent blueprint to follow.

    Or alternately, those who don't learn from history are doomed to go into marketing, or something like that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2015 @ 7:00am

    Psh, all he had to do is pass a law saying that they were looking for terrorists and everyone would have thought it ok...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sorrykb (profile), 12 Feb 2015 @ 8:36am

    "More than 20,000 people in Macedonia have been monitored over the years," said Zaev.

    Only 20,000 people monitored?
    Amateurs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2015 @ 12:39pm

    Big WOOHOO!

    Netzpolitik.org made it to the US! Best German site when it comes to net news and when it comes to standing up against the gov/politics, publishing while being threatend with law suits takes some ba...stones.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Feb 2015 @ 12:00pm

    PRESS RELEASE - PRESS RELEASE
    Feb 11 2015

    Pascali: Macedonia escapes Ukraine-style tragedy
    Zaev plot ends in a farce. “Now investigate the Puppet Masters!”

    “My first reaction to the Zoran Zaev attempted coup was of Déjà vu. It reminded me of the Clean Hands scandal in Italy in 1992,” Washington strategic analyst Umberto Pascali stated today in an interview to Slobodan Tomic for The Voice of the People (TV Sonce). “History repeats itself but the first as a tragedy and the second as a farce. Zaev definitively has produced a farce… Zaev and large part of the SDSM leadership has tried frantically to provoke a Soros-style Color Revolution to destabilize Macedonia. He failed because the operation was fortunately intercepted and neutralized by the Gruevski Government.”
    Like Mani Pulite in Italy?

    Mani Pulite, the Clean Hands investigation of 1992 literally decapitated Italy, Pascali said “destabilizing the country, smashing its political, and economic leadership, producing political impotence, economic degradation and a dramatic loss of national sovereignty.” The “anti-corruption” scandal was organized by a team led by magistrate Antonio di Pietro, “a semi illiterate magistrate who suddenly become the hero of the very same media that before were supporting the government political party… How the previously unknown Di Pietro, became the Robespierre of Italy was very difficult to understand. Except that, after the scandal had destroyed Italy, it was discovered his connection to foreign intelligence agencies… ”
    The leaders of the Italian government parties, entrepreneurs were forced to resign, some committed suicide. In several cases, it was discovered, there was no base for the accusation but it was too late.” At the end of that process the opposition took over the government “not through a lawful electoral process, not because they had a convincing program. They grabbed the power because the legitimate elected government was smashed by the scandal set up by foreign forces. And thus they were easily blackmailed form that moment on.”
    What was the real reason for the Mani Pulite Operation? After the end of the Soviet Union, the Italian and most European elite thought they could re-gain their full sovereignty, until then limited with the pretext of the Soviet danger. “The answer of Big Brother was Clean Hands. ‘Do not make a big mistake. You are NOT going to be sovereign, independent from us. We can smash you….’”
    The use of scandals have been “weaponized” and triggered by big countries and big financial institutions to maintain their hegemony.

    What Gruevski and Tsipras can do

    Pascali started his interview congratulating “the two young, courageous, brilliant leaders, Nikola Gruevski and the Greek PM Alexis Tsipras for their Feb 10 historic conversation” wishing this could be the beginning of the end of conflicts and balkanization in South east Europe. “What is the lesson for Macedonia in all this? Consider the geopolitical context right now. The Anglo-Americans, meaning the Wall Street puppet masters, are in danger of loosing the “big game”. They wanted to pit Europe against Russia and observe, comfortably seating back, the two destroying each other… This is not working anymore. After the election of Alexis Tsipras, they feel they are progressively loosing South East Europe….
    “…It seems that even Germany, and France have abandoned their masochistic subservience to Wall Street and Washington, beginning to take the distance from a full war with Russia. This is what makes the Puppet Masters furious and desperate. This is what induces them to give the order to their minions, to the fifth Columns they have in several countries: Go for the Putsch!”

    The failure of the Macedonian Color Revolution

    Pascali analyzed in some detail why Zoran Zaev “and his Puppet Masters” failed. “They wanted to organize a Color Revolution. But a color revolution includes two parts. The first part public –- a demonstration in a public square where demonstrators are manipulated as cannon fodder, with support by media, foreign diplomats, Soros NGO etc. And a second part that is very secret –- the mobilization of a Fifth Column deep inside the state that will blackmail, intimidate, terrorize the elected government. … Zaev and his puppet masters failed on both account… mostly because Gruevski and the government refused to be intimidated by the fake demonstrations or by the mafia like threats of Zaev (“I am under the protection of powerful foreign intelligence”). “Gruevski used the Fox and the Lion, like a great Italian master of strategy explained about five hundred years ago. He defended his people and showed to be a man of virtue.”

    Investigate the Puppet Masters

    “I hope the investigations will clarify how did the Zaev putsch really worked,” Pascali said and stressed that he hope the US government will react against the untenable statements of officials like Thomas O. Melia, the deputy US Assistant Secretary of State, the deputy of Victoria Nuland who was directly involved in the Ukraine’s Maidan destabilization.
    “It doesn’t help the perception of crass interference the fact that Mr. Melia held a senior post in National Democratic Institute, that he was Deputy Executive Director of Freedom House and worked closely with the National Endowment for Democracy. All three organizations are very often accused of interfering in the internal affairs of several countries, generally in cooperation with the Soros foundations. Hopefully the US government will correct these untenable statements by Mr. Melia that provoked many negative reactions not only in Macedonia. Officials such as Mr. Melia are giving a very bad name to the US. Interference and meddling belongs to another century…”

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.