US secret diplomatic cables seen by EurActiv and Bivol.bg, a Bulgarian investigative journalism website, speak about Gruevski and his entourage from the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party (see 'Background') instigating a climate of fear in the EU candidate country [Cable REF: 09SKOPJE601].
US Ambassador Philip T. Reeker, who has occupied his post in Skopje since September 2008, writes in a cable dated December 2009 that Gruevski's government is using a catch-all corruption charge of "abuse of office" or "misuse of official position" against members of the political elite in Macedonia.
Highly-publicised arrests, detentions or investigations of current and former ministers, party members and the opposition have put pressure on the political elite in Macedonia to refrain from challenging or criticising Gruevski's government, Reeker writes.
EurActiv made the US cables available to the European Commission's services and asked for a comment. The official answer was that the EU executive does not comment on WikiLeaks revelations.
EurActiv also forwarded the two cables to the Macedonian authorities prior to publication, but is yet to receive any comments from their side.
Pressure on civil society groups
The US diplomatic cable informed Washington of complaints from non-governmental organisations whose members have been hauled in by the police for intimidating "informative talks" regarding their supposed actions.
Such tactics can be sold to the Macedonian public as the government's valiant efforts against corruption, which helps maintain public support for such abusive action, Ambassador Reeker writes.
On more than one occasion, the US diplomat expresses the view that by giving media prominence to his battles with opponents, Gruevski has been skilled enough to distract public attention from his own inability to advance on a protracted dispute with Greece over the country's name, which is identical to Greece's northernmost province (see 'Background').
"[Gruevski] continues to insist on a referendum to avoid personal responsibility for a historic compromise," the US Embassy reports to Washington.
According to EU diplomats, a nationwide vote on a compromise name has little chance of success, largely due to the nationalist positions of VMRO-DPMNE and the anti-compromise position which government-controlled media are expected to advocate.
Gruevski is also described as a politician who is not interested in reforms needed to advance his country's EU integration, and who is in fact opposed to giving independence to the judiciary, which he largely controls.
Corruption in inner circle
According to US diplomats, various Gruevski insiders are believed to be corrupt. Those explicitly mentioned in this context include intelligence chief Sasho Majalkov, who is also Gruevski's cousin, and Mile Janakieski, minister of transport and communications. Concretely, the US diplomats cite allegations linking Majalkov to a corruption scandal involving the purchase of double-decker buses made in China.
At the same time, the US Embassy appears to trust a number of Macedonian clean politicians, many of whom have apparently become victims of Gruevski's repression.
The best-known internationally among those cited is former Minister for European Affairs Ivica Bocevski, who resigned in June 2009 after reportedly realising that Gruevski opposed reforms in areas such as the independence of the judiciary [Cable REF: 09SKOPJE332].
Among various examples of manipulation of the judiciary is the case of Georgi Trenkoski, a Gruesvski party fellow and a man with a reputation for being a clean politician.
According to the US Embassy, Trenkoski, a former manager of the Macedonian health fund, had lost Gruevski's support for being outspoken. He was publicly arrested and charged with misusing his official position. According to a well-established practice, the arrest occurred in the presence of reporters from the government-friendly press.
Macedonian legislation allows pre-trial detentions of up to 180 days, with judges able to extend an initial pre-trial detention period of 30 days. Judges have complained to US diplomats of having been put under pressure by the government to make use of the maximum detention period, in an apparent effort to destroy the reputation of politicians.
Slagjana Taseva, head of Transparency International Macedonia, an NGO, has complained to diplomats and to the media of being harassed by the police due to her activities and criticism of the government. Other NGOs have reportedly complained of similar pressure.
The US cables also report rising intra-Albanian discord in Macedonia. Menduh Thaci, leader of the Democratic Party of the Albanians (DPA), formally advocates a new inter-ethnic agreement intended to replace the Ohrid Framework Agreement (see 'Background'), US diplomats warn.
Thaci is reportedly calling for consensual government decision-making – meaning that the ethnic Albanian party in government gets a veto – and that the Albanian language becomes recognised as an official language together with Macedonian. He also calls for one of the country's three most powerful political offices – prime minister, president and speaker – to be always held by an ethnic Albanian.