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New Opposition Protests in Macedonia Follow Violent Clashes

  • Associated Press

Police arrest protesters after clashes during a protest in Skopje, Macedonia, May 5, 2015.

Police arrest protesters after clashes during a protest in Skopje, Macedonia, May 5, 2015.

More than 1,000 opposition supporters protested outside Macedonia's parliament on Wednesday over the 2011 police killing of a student, a day after violence at a similar demonstration left 38 officers and one protester injured.

Protesters peacefully chanted slogans calling for the resignation of conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's government, which the left-wing opposition party has accused of trying to cover up the fatal police beating.

Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska said six of the officers injured Tuesday night were hospitalized in severe condition.

“It was a brutal attack on the police,” she said, adding that protesters used metal bars to beat police and threw stones, bottles and eggs.

The Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe voiced concern at the violence, urging restraint from police and protesters alike.

“The right to peacefully gather and protest is a constitutionally guaranteed right of all citizens in the country,” said Ralf Breth, head of the OSCE mission to Skopje. “However, such protests should not be marred by violence.”

Before Tuesday's violence, Social Democrat head Zoran Zaev accused the prime minister of attempting to cover up the 2011 death of 22-year-old Martin Neskoski. Zaev released dozens of audio recordings he says are from illegal wiretaps, in which people purported to be Gruevski, the country's intelligence chief, its interior minister and other officials discuss how to cover up the killing.

The recordings are part of a series of wiretaps Zaev has been releasing amid Macedonia's most severe political crisis in years.

Jankulovska described Zaev's claims as “monstrous” and accused him of abusing the young man's death for political gains.

Zaev has accused Gruevski of being behind the illegal wiretaps of about 20,000 Macedonians, including journalists, judges, ambassadors and lawmakers. Gruevski has denied the accusation, countering that the wiretaps were done by foreign spies.