(Reuters) – Up to 2,000 protesters clashed with Macedonian police on Tuesday outside the government building in Skopje as they called for the resignation of the prime minister, who is embroiled in a long-running wire-tapping scandal.
The demonstrators set rubbish containers on fire and threw stones at police who were guarding the building, during a rally calling for the resignation of Nikola Gruevski and his cabinet.
The interior ministry said at least 10 policemen were injured during and after the two-hour rally. Police in riot gear dispersed the crowd after the rally, a Reuters witness said.
Gruevski, a Conservative in power for nine years, has been involved in a conflict with Social Democrat opposition leader Zoran Zaev that threatens Macedonia’s fragile democracy.
Zaev has in the last few months published wire-taps of voices purported to include those of Gruevski and senior officials discussing how to employ members of the ruling rightist VMRO-DPMNE party in state jobs, pick judges and massage elections.
Gruevski has denied the allegations and dismissed the wire-taps as a plot by foreign spies.. A state prosecutor indicted Zaev on Thursday for “violence against representatives of the highest state bodies”.
Zaev published a new set of audio files on Tuesday and accused Gruevski and his interior minister of attempting to cover up the death of a 22-year-old man, who was beaten to death by a police officer during a post-election celebration in 2011.
The officer was later sentenced to 14 years in prison for murder.
The ministry denied the accusation against Gruevski and his minister and accused Zaev of exploiting a tragic death for political gain.
The protesters gathered outside the government building hours after Zaev’s news conference.
(Reporting by Kole Casule; Writing by Zoran Radosavljevic; editing by John Stonestreet)