Hungary has granted political asylum to the former prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) who fled his country to evade prison. Nikola Gruevski was sentenced to two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for corruption.
Gruevski wrote on his Facebook page that he had been the victim of a “political witch-hunt” in FYROM and that Hungarian authorities had granted his request for asylum.
Hungarian authorities made no official comment on the matter. But it is not without irony considering that Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has prided himself on making his country one of the hardest places in Europe in which to claim asylum.
As reported by the Guardian, Gruevski has had a long friendship with Orbán dating back to Gruevski’s 10-year rule over Macedonia.
Gruevski stepped down as prime minister in 2016 after a wire-tapping scandal, and was accused of dictatorial impulses, erosion of rule of law and corruption. He was sentenced by a court in May.
A Hungarian government spokesman, Zoltán Kovács, said Gruevski was allowed to wait in Budapest because “precedent suggests that extraordinary cases like this merit extraordinary consideration”. The extreme speed with which his case has apparently been resolved suggests special treatment.
Meanwhile, FYROM authorities have submitted an extradition request. The foreign minister, Nikola Dimitrov, said it is “impossible to digest” that Gruevski would seek refuge in an EU country, after the European Commission had accused him in 2016 of transforming FYROM into a captured state.