Former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski has said that he fled to Hungary because of threats he received that he would be killed in prison in Macedonia, where he was to be imprisoned after being convicted of abuse of power.
Mr Gruevski, who is close to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, was granted asylum in Budapest in November 2018 after being handed a two-year prison sentence in Macedonia.
In an interview with Macedonian TV Sitel in Hungary, his first since fleeing before beginning his sentence, Gruevski said that he initially intended to serve his prison term “but in the last days [before he was due to start serving his sentence] I received information about my planned liquidation in jail, not immediately but after a certain period, so I changed my mind”
Mr. Gruevski claimed to have obtained this information “from a knowledgeable person inside the prison”.
“I can not say publicly who was behind this plot because I can not prove it at the moment, so I decided to leave Macedonia after that,” he added.
Gruevski explained that he chose Hungary because it is a member of the EU and a state with “independent institutions”. The former Prime Minister claims that he had no contact with Hungarian, Albanian, Montenegrin or Serbian authorities before leaving Macedonia.
“I left Macedonia very simply”, he said when asked about how he managed to reach Hungary without a passport, but refused to clarify whether he had exited Macedonia via a legal border crossing.
Gruevski said that once he reached Albania, he asked the Hungarian embassy in Tirana for political asylum in Hungary, after which Hungarian officials assisted his trip to Budapest. He denied having contacted the Hungarian authorities before the escape. Shortly after his arrival in Budapest, he was granted asylum in Hungary.
Prime Minister of Macedonia from 2006 to 2016, Nikola Gruevski was found guilty of receiving a 600,000 euro Mercedes for his personal use, paid for from public funds. He is also charged in five other cases of corruption, abuse of power or illegal tapping.