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Serbia summons Macedonian ambassador over wiretapping

Associated Press logo Associated Press 30/05/2017 By DUSAN STOJANOVIC, Associated Press

BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia's foreign ministry summoned Macedonia's ambassador on Tuesday to explain why a Serbian intelligence officer and a ruling party official were wiretapped during violent protests last month in Macedonia's capital.

The Belgrade-based KRIK investigative group has released transcripts of what is said were conversations between the Serb intelligence officer, the party official and a leader of the Serb minority in Macedonia. The transcripts allegedly show that the three conspired for pro-Russian interests.

Last week, Macedonia's foreign ministry summoned the Serbian ambassador to Skopje over the presence of a Serbian intelligence officer during a violent invasion of parliament that left more than 100 people injured.

The Macedonian ambassador was asked why only Serbia's ambassador was questioned and not Western envoys whose officials were allegedly also present in parliament during the incident.

Serbia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Macedonian Ambassador Vera Jovanovska said she did not know foreign intelligence officers were in the parliament building during the clashes.

Jovanovska also said she did not know how the wiretapped transcripts reached Serbian media outlets, the statement said.

The ministry did not deny that the wiretaps were genuine.

KRIK, citing the Macedonian secret service, said ruling Serbian Progressive Party official Miroslav Lazanski, who is also a well-known journalist, was in Macedonia to carry out propaganda promoting Russia's policies in the Balkans.

Lazanski, known for his pro-Russian stance, has denied the charges, saying he was on a reporting assignment for his pro-government Politika daily.

Both Russia and its Balkan ally Serbia have voiced support for Macedonia's Former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's conservative VMRO-DPMNE party. The party placed first in a December parliamentary election, but without winning a governing majority.

Macedonian left-leaning Prime Minister-designate Zoran Zaev submitted his new coalition cabinet on Tuesday, almost six months after the general election.

Serbia and Macedonia were part of the former Yugoslav federation.

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