Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski said on Monday that all 80 MPs whose vote on Friday was key for launching constitutional changes to secure FYROM’s agreement with Greece are receiving 24-hour police protection.
Spasovski said that the MPs who voted “yes” to the deal need protection as they are currently receiving threatening messages on social networks that accuse them of treason and of allegedly receiving bribes.
“We will not allow such behaviour and anyone who instils fear among citizens or legislators will be sanctioned,” Spasovski told a press conference.
Those who voted in favour include eight legislators from the opposition bloc, who backed the changes despite directives from the main opposition VMRO-DPMNE party.
Earlier during the day, the interior ministry said that it will file criminal charges against a 38-year-old from the Skopje area for making threats against MPs on Facebook. The suspect has already been invited for questioning, the ministry added.
Spasovski said that the police have identified a “group” close to the informal movement which campaigned for a boycott of the September 30 ‘name’ referendum which he said has been threatening the lives of MPs and their families. He said police are closely monitoring the group’s activities.
Late on Friday night, after a day of high tensions and uncertainty, premier Zoran Zaev’s government passed a key test when 80 legislators voted in favour and 39 against its motion to start the procedure to change the constitution to allow the country’s name to become the “Republic of North Macedonia” – as required under the deal reached with Greece this summer.
Immediately after the vote, the eight MPs from the opposition bloc who voted in favour were targeted by hate speech and threats on social networks and in some pro-opposition media.
On Friday night, the pro-opposition news site Republika published an article with the title “Remember These Faces, These are the ‘Macedonian’ Traitors” with the photos and names of the opposition MPs, under the pretext that it was only conveying people’s reactions on social media.
The same night, the VMRO-DPMNE ousted from the party seven of its MPs who voted in favour, expressing suspicions that they had allegedly been bribed or pressurized, which the government has denied.
The eighth opposition MP to vote in favour of the deal was from the VMRO-DPMNE’s smaller ally, the Socialist Party.