US Blacklists North Macedonia’s Former Deputy PM for ‘Corruption’

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The US State Department announced on Tuesday that Angjushev, who is also a prominent businessman, is being designated as “generally ineligible for entry into the United States”, due to “his involvement in significant corruption”.

“While serving as Deputy Prime Minister, Angjushev abused his official position to benefit his private business interests, undermining the confidence of North Macedonia’s public in their government institutions and public processes,” the State Department said in a statement.

The statement said that the ban on Angjushev, which also extends to his immediate family, meaning his wife and two sons, serves to demonstrate that “the United States stands with those in North Macedonia who seek accountability of corrupt public officials”.

Angjushev has not yet commented publicly on the US allegations against him.

He was deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs from 2017 to 2020 in the Social Democratic government led by then Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

He is also a businessman and owner of Brako, Feroinvest and other companies that operate in a variety of fields such as the production of metal wires, photovoltaic power plant construction and the manufacturing of street sweeping machines. Some of these products have found their way into the US market over the years.

Angjushev was listed by Forbes in 2014 as one of the top five wealthiest businessmen in North Macedonia.

He made headlines recently when he was accused by domestic journalistic associations in North Macedonia,  and the International Federation of Journalists of launching what they called a classic example of a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, SLAPP, against one of the most prominent investigative media outlets in the country, the Investigative Reporting Lab, IRL.

In a controversial decision in October, the Civil Court in Skopje ruled in Angjushev’s favour and found IRL guilty of slandering and insulting him for mentioning him in an investigative documentary entitled ‘Conspiracy Against the Air’, which was aired on the national broadcaster in 2021.

Angljushev insisted that he and his companies were the real victims of what he described as a deliberate attack by the IRL.

The number of prominent figures from North Macedonia who have been blacklisted by the US has been steadily increasing in the last couple of years.

In April 2022, the US first blacklisted the former authoritarian prime minister, Nikola Gruevski, as well as his close associate, the former chief of the now-disbanded secret police force, Saso Mijalkov.

Earlier this year, the US then blacklisted prominent politician and long-standing mayor of the town of Struga, Ramiz Merko, followed by another prominent and controversial businessman, Orce Kamcev.

Last month, the US also blacklisted businessman Sergey Samsonenko, a dual citizen of Russia and North Macedonia who resides in North Macedonia.

Source : Balkans Insights