Bombshell 30 and can it get uglier than this?


It's already three months into the wiretapping scandal and today we heard the most disturbing recordings so far.

In several recordings played today we hear Interior ministry officials (allegedly Minister Gordana Jankulovska and press officer Ivo Kotevski) discussing Nikola Mladenov's death, the investigation, withholding evidence, using the Ministry's surveillance equipment to find his position via his phone, and the capacity of the judge to complete the proceedings. They laugh and joke about the death of the journalist, denouncing everyone who is asking questions about the accident as 'a communist' (specific Macedonian jargon is 'komunjar') which is a derogative word.

The recordings also show Interior ministry officials plot to send life threatening messages to journalists as 'a joke' following the death of Mladenov, by phone and at his funeral, and also mention threats towards jailed and now released investigative journalist Tomislav Kezarovski

Minutes after the press conference held by SDSM's president Zoran Zaev ended, the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party issued a statement supporting a new, independent investigation into the death of Nikola Mladenov.

Media mayhem as bomshells continue to rock Macedonia's society [Updated]


The situation in Macedonia, that can be described as living under constant stress, had another twist of events on Friday, 13 March 2015.

Over the past few days Stojanche Angelov the president of the right wing party Dostoinstvo was trying to enter the state television and deliver the leaked recordings to the reporters who work there. According to the editor at the state television they are not airing any of those recordings because they are following public prosecutor's instructions which by many are considered ill placed.

The visit of Mr. Angelov had a twist when the radio hosts of Kanal 103 (the independent music radio that airs from the state tv building) saw him in the hallway and invited him to come to their talk show. The private security that guards the building stopped Mr. Angelov and didn't allowed him to go to Kanal 103 studio.

Later that evening the security officers barged in Kanal 103 studio interrupting the program and demanding that the person working provides a valid ID card before he can continue with the show.

Earlier that day we witnessed how the leading opposition weekly Fokus and the on-line outlet NovaTV changed the reporting on the latest leaks released on Thursday. One of the tapes there was an alleged conversation between chief of secret police Sasho Mijalkov and Sitel TV editor Dragan Pavlovikj where they discuss that then opposition leader and ex-president Branko Crvenkovski offered voters exchange on local elections between Karposh and Centar municipalities in Skopje.

NovaTV first published the whole recording, then removed and published again. According to its editor that was done to remove "private conversation (gossip)". Almost simultaneously Focus changed its on-line reporting from "an official statement of SDSM's press person" to "unofficial sources from the party" that the recording was aired in full by mistake and that the staff at the party forgot to remove private conversations, including the part concerning Mr. Crvenkovski.

This, obviously, raises concerns that previous recordings are "cleaned up" to remove parts that could produce bad publicity for the opposition. At the same it becomes less clear how the opposition party and the media who are reporting on the recordings decide what are "private conversations" - for example we already heard at length and without censorship that Gordana Jankulovska and Zoran Stavrevski have new glasses; and what is "gossip" - we also heard at length and without censorship that other political figures are "crazy, bastards, criminals" etc.

Update 31.3.2015

Bombshell 14 was released on March 26 and it included an alleged conversation between Transport and communications minister Mile Jakanievski and his wife. The conversation remains published online (and elsewhere) despite it being a private conversation, where a concerned woman asks for the wellbeing of the man who is working late.

There has been some commentary that the reason why this conversation is released is the fact that it contains racist statements by the minister regarding the representatives from a Chinese road building company. However, the previous 17 released conversations from this batch contain enough foul language so that anyone can get a clear idea of racist or any other abusive statements.


"You can't do this kind of things without the telecom operators" - and you can't make this stuff up

Bombshell #7: Alleged conversation of government minister Janakievski calling TMobile director Irena Misheva to cut service of opposition member's phone

Amid the wiretapping scandal Macedonian parliament votes on law to allow use of rubber bullets by the police

Zaev realeases bomb #4 - new surveillence tapes show evidence of more media meddling and survellance of 100 journalists

New leaks presented by Mr. Zaev - Media controlled by secret services

Telecom operators trying to plead innocence over wiretapping accusations; claim their actions to be consistent with a law that didn't exist in 2011

Macedonian opposition reveals evidence of mass spying

Surveillance and abuse of power - Macedonian chapter

Zaev realeases bomb #4 - new surveillence tapes show evidence of more media meddling and survellance of 100 journalists [Updated]


The newest batch of the alleged warantless surveillance tapes were released today. The tapes reveal more abuse of power by the leading figures in the Macedonian government including the prime minister Nikola Gruevski. One of the tapes show money being redirected form the Agency for electronic communication (btw, that is the same agency that should serve as a watchdog for telecom operator to make sure that there is not any unlawful bridge of consumers privacy) to be used for movie-making.

The new files give a clearer picture of the dismal situation with Macedonian media and their close connections with the ruling people of the government. Government ministers are heard ordering news stories and media editors accepting the requests.

However, the biggest revelation are the journalists' files. Over 100 journalists, including the late Nikola Mladenov, have been targeted for periods longer than any legal time frame allowed under Macedonian law. Mr. Zaev said the files will be given to each of the journalists that were under surveillance.


Following the 2pm press conference of opposition leader Zoran Zaev, Macedonian prime minister takes the podium at a press conference at 3:45 pm.

He repeats most of the things that he already said in his original statement: that recordings are made by foreign intelligence agencies and that are fake/edited. Also he says that the video recordings leaked to Youtube of his meeting with Mr. Zaev are lawful and done after filed criminal charges.

Almost simultaneously with the press conference major pro-government news outlets report a sentencing of a man that plead guilty in the 'coup d'etat' case in which Mr. Zaev is one of the suspects too. Mr. Gruevski cites this information in his speech, says people have already admitted to the crimes of espionage against the state.

Then the PM goes on to talk about new jobs, investments, roads and so on and that he says he will restore order.

New leaks presented by Mr. Zaev - Media controlled by secret services

Telecom operators trying to plead innocence over wiretapping accusations; claim their actions to be consistent with a law that didn't exist in 2011

Macedonian opposition reveals evidence of mass spying

Surveillance and abuse of power - Macedonian chapter

New leaks presented by Mr. Zaev - Media controlled by secret services


In a press conference on Friday, February 20th 2015, opposition leader Mr. Zaev revealed a third batch of leaks form the alleged 1.6 million files of warantless surveillance of over 20.000 Macedonian citizens.

The audio recordings provide the most shocking and most disturbing conversations between senior government officials and newspaper and TV editors so far. Aside from the language, the recordings reveal conspiracies, staged arrest, and plans for torture of political opponents and retaliation towards citizens who did not vote for the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party. Part of the audio is transcribed with analysis in Macedonian and published on

The recordings also reveal the close ties between Macedonia's leading news outlets and top ranking officials from the government, this time specifically with the chief of the secret police.

Over the past 5-6 years, Macedonia has fallen in media freedom rankings, only to go up 7 places from 123 on this year's RSF rating. The current media coverage of the leaks gives more proof to the point: only a handful of media outlets, most of which are on-line, provide information and analysis. The rest of about 25-30 TV and Radio stations, including the national broadcaster MRT, and newspapers remain in line with the government story that the recordings distributed to the public by the opposition party are montages made by hostile foreign government intelligence agencies made to destabilize the country.


Telecom operators trying to plead innocence over wiretapping accusations; claim their actions to be consistent with a law that didn't exist in 2011

Macedonian opposition reveals evidence of mass spying

Surveillance and abuse of power - Macedonian chapter

Following the traces of the journalistic research #2


tl;dr One procurement, one equipment, three affairs.

What is common among the news reports of NovaTV (1 и 2), Fokus (1, 2, 3 и 4) and Bure Vesnik (1)?

They all write about suspicions procurement of equipment. Unfortunately they all assign different properties and usage to the same equipment.

It all begins with a news report on NovaTV. The first part of the news story is OK. The public is being informed about a criminal complaint filed for some equipment that that is allegedly missing from th Faculty of security in Skopje, a subsidiary of UKLO - Bitola.

In the news report on NovaTV professor Frosina Remenski describes the missing equipment: an electronic microscope, AFIS system and digital communication surveillance technology. The AFIS system was bought through the tender No. 43/2010. The other two were procured in different procedures: No. 33/2010 for the electronic microscope and No. 40/2010 for the digital communication surveillance technology.



At the moment when the alarm is sounded at UKLO the description of the equipment is known by one professor and probably an expert too, representatives from Transparency International and journalists. Yet, the alarm does not include danger from illegal production of biometric documents.


However, already in the second story published by NovaTV there are speculation about equipment procured for the state television MRT. It is a speculation because the evidence offered for that procurement is "An announcement for contract for tender“ “ (screenshot from NovaTV page) clearly and unambiguously says that the procured part is just one laboratory from the tender which is divisible i.e. has different and unrelated parts as far as the bidding and buying goes. When one reads what NovaTV writes: — „Ministry of educatoin was buying crime and forensic labs for the Macedonian radio-television."-one gets the impression that NovaTV did not click on the tender documentation where it is stated that the parts of the tender planned for MRT are a studio and a audio-video lab.

After this the story is taken on by Bure Vesnik. In theirs research they too speak of the missing UKLO equipment and suspicious procurement practices. They provide screenshots from the Macedonian official gazette containing detail list of the equipment.

This time, however, even we can clearly read what is the equipment, the news report insists that this is a surveillance equipment. A quick Google search will easily dispute that: an electronic microscope (33/2010) is a microscope, Morpho's AFIS is a forensic database (43/2010) and FRED is a mobile forensic station (40/2010) —probably something like the tools they show on CSI when they do a their work outside.

Finally, Fokus takes the story of the same equipment. Suspicious procurement practices, Universities, deans and the same equipment. It is the same equipment that a while ago was surveillance equipment. Now the AFIS system becomes something with which one can produce biometric passports and identity cards.

However, Fokus does the same mistake as NovaTV. Without checking the documentation for the 43/2010 tender -- where it is clear that one AFIS is being procured, they claim that three were bought and two of them are missing.

For clarification: What is AFIS?

We constantly read that there were three AFIS and that two are missing. Where are they? When I read this, and before I knew that AFIS is an acronym for Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems, I had the idea that we are talking about three devices -- let's say three printers -- and two of them are gone.

In fact, AFIS plenty of equipment. Only the one for which we are sure that was bought, according to the list from the official gazette, has (if I counted correctly) 104 pieces of individual equipment including tables, chairs and cabinets.


Suddenly, the claim that two AFIS systems are missing seems very strange. In fact, if two are really missing, we are missing two whole rooms of equipment. I do not want to say that two rooms full of equipment can not be stolen. They can be, but at least there should be more to support that claim that a reference towards procurement documentation which looks like no one has read.

Conspiracy theory time

Like they say anything is possible. Laptops from the FRED purchase can be used for surveillance, which is true also for any ordinary laptop. Printers and cameras bought with the AFIS can be used for making biometric documents, which is true also for any printer and camera (Macedonian readers will remember the cheap cameras used at the Identity cards boots). It is possible that the whole documentation for the 43/2010 tender is fabricated and fake. And all of the other 200 university procurements for which Bure Vesnik claims that are surveillance equipment shopping may have fake documentation.

However, the journalists so far failed to offer any source that three AFIS systems were bought. As far as I know they failed to offer an analysis of what was sought, bought, delivered and installed with the tenders 20/2010, 25/201, 26/201 33/2010, 34/2010, 40/2010, 41/2010, 43/2010, for all labs for all public institutions

Anything is possible.

But we can only judge on what we can research and confirm.

Previously on the same topic:
Following the traces of the journalistic research
The metadata in the photos of the passports

Update 8.12.2014: The text was fully published in Okno

Following the traces of the journalistic research


tl;dr There is only one AFIS laboratory in the tender documentation.

„The journalist has an obligation to educate himself in public.“ —says Joseph Campbell in the series of interviews "The Power of Myth". I did the same today when I decided to find out something more about our passport affair.

First of all, the affair of the missing equipment or an equipment which is controversial is not new. This equipment was the subject of an article published by Nova TV in August 2013. Still, it is very indicative that this "criminal equipment" (NovaTV) from 2013 became an equipment for which "it is known that it could have been used in the making of biometric documents-passports and ID cards" (Fokus No. 994) in 2014.

In fact, this is the unknown. If the equipment as Fokus claims is AFIS, the same as the one used by the American FBI, that had been provided by the daughter of Safran — Morpho, then this equipment can not be used for the making of biometric documents due to the fact that it is only a forensic equipment.

The procurement of this equipment is indisputable even with regards to the information published by Fokus (No. 994, page 13) where the document for handover between Safran and the Ministry for education and science is shown. That equipment is MetaMorpho.

French Safran sells equipment for the making of passports and ID cards, but there has never been information from anyone that this equipment was purchased in Macedonia, nor that Macedonia is on the list of clients for biometric documents of this company. As a reminder, Macedonia purchased passport equipment in 2003. That equipment according to information from the past costs 23 million EUR.

I think that this dismisses the claims of a possible connection between the tenders of the Ministry of education and science and the the passport making equipment.

Still, we can do research of whether there was a purchase of 3 AFIS devices in Macedonia, because even a fingerprint verification equipment and the maintenance of the forensic databases should not be in any other property other than in the property of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (the alleged hand-overs of equipement among the Ministry of Education and Science, the University Saint Kliment Ohridski in Bitola and the Ministry of Internal Affairs aside).

For that purpose we can go back to the acceptance certificate (Fokus No. 994, page 13). If Safran really brought and mounted three sets of the equipment than this equipment should have three acceptance certificates-each for the three locations it was mounted on. Further on, Agreement no. EP 18–60/22 dated 26.09.2011 should be checked (it was made between the Ministry of Education and Science and Safran) and to look for information about the quantity and the type of equipment that was shipped. It would be logical to expect that Safran would ask for these documents to be accurate and authentic prior to signing them because if the acceptance certificate proves one thing and the Agreement another, then the Ministry of Education and Science could ask at some point that this Agreement is fully realized. Safran would not allow that for sure.

But, if all this seems complicated, it is enough to see tender documentation no. 43/2010 that is available on the web site of the Public Procurement Office (no permalink could be found, but you can check it at

The purchased laboratories are 1 AFIS and 2 sets of studio equipment for the Macedonian Radio Television.

If I start plotting theories of conspiracy then I would say that maybe all of the equipment could be used to make fake passports. However it should be checked if the Macedonian Radio Television has a new studio and audio-visual equipment and whether this equipment was also bought by Safran. But, tender 43/2010 is divisible and according to the documentation only one part of it was purchased-AFIS:

Updated December 4th 2014: According to the information provided for in the public procurement documents of 2007 in the state of West Virginia the procurement costs of the basic AFIS system of the same manufacture are 2.950.000 USD.

The procurement costs in Macedonia according to all sources are 152 million MKD or round 2.5 million EUR.

Previously on the topic: The metadata in the photos of the passports

Next on the topic: Following the traces of the journalistic research #2

Published in Okno on December 5th 2014:

The metadata in the photos of the passports


tl;dr Dated September 2014, taken by Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9515.

The news published by Fokus caused a lot of interest and therefore this additional information could be of use to the public debate.

Six photos are published on the newspaper’s website. Five of these photos are made between the 9th and the 10th of September 2014. This could be concluded from the metadata of the photos.

The sixth photograph is edited in Photoshop most probably by the editorial team of Fokus in order to hide the identity of the person.

According to the metadata the photos are taken with Samsung Galaxy S4 (GT-I9515), a phone which is on sale since May 2014. Even if it was bought immediately after its release for sale it could have not been used to take a photo of something related to the previous elections. (The last elections ended on April 27th 2014.)

Given the aforementioned and unless someone had already engaged in “playing” with the metadata of these photos ( which can be simply done in Photoshop as shown in photo no.6) these photos really are taken in September 2014 with a device not older than 6 months and one which is relatively expensive( more than 20.000,00 MKD, approximately 325 EUR retail price).

Updated on 30.11.2014: In the printed edition of Fokus there is one more photo, one which shows some kind of a machine. This photo is not published on the web site. This photo shows several letters of the machine’s brand. The research in the brand database of WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) provides information about a brand that is very similar to the one shown on the photo. This brand is Original Perfecta, a brand owned by a company that produces paper cutting machines.

The brand was used by the Werner Lamberz company from Leibzig, East Germany, registered for the Dannish jurisdiction in 1963.


1. Wasn’t Samsung Galaxy S4 available on the market since 2013?

There are two types of Galaxy S4 models. The first one was released in 2013. This is the GT-I9505 model.. (Link to website.) he second one is the Galaxy S4 Value Edition model GT-I9515 released for sale in May 2014 as provided for by the link in the text above.

2. Is it possible that the photos are taken in September 2014 by photographing the video?

Focus published that it received both video and photos:

Without entering into discussion whether or not taking a photo of a video and getting good quality photos is an easy job, the video published by Fokus does not contain the same footages shown on the photos. This either means that Fokus did not receive the whole video material; the published material is not complete or the photos are taken independently. There are too many possibilities.

Updated 01.12.2014:

The incomplete version of this text was published in Kurir:

With small changes the text was published in: Republika - with small changes:, Evesti -, RSM -, Puls 24 -, -

Updated 02.12.2014:

The text was fully published in Okno:

Parts in Vecer:

All the news

Next: Followinng the traces of the journalistic research

Macedonia's new media law - what [can we do] now?


It should be said with as few words as possible: Macedonia's newly proposed law on media allows censorship. It is as simple as that.

But here is the fine print: As far as public knowledge goes, most media in the country are already owned or controlled by the government or pro-government businessmen. If a story is not supposed to be run - it wont be, as we have seen on numerous times so far. Press freedom has plummeted in recent years. And, in the strangest turn of events [and as far as the official investigation goes without any foul play], Nikola Mladenov died and with him, the fate only independent or pro-opposition media outlet hangs by a thread.

So, by the time this law is enacted there might not be anything left to censor. Nevertheless, it is the murkiest of scenarios. There is little hope that the law can be halted in Parliament and even less in the Constitutional court which is postponing decisions on 'hot' issues. Journalists are divided on the issue of censorship and the profession at worst and scared for their job and paycheck at best.

Thus, another principled battle of huge proportion lands in the laps of couple of Internet activists, free speech groups and few journalists who, at least for now, ride on the free waves of the Internet. What [can we do] now?