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:

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