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Date: Fri, 9 May 1997 08:55:10 +0000
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
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From: Heiko Khoo <heiko@EASYNET.CO.UK>
Subject: World News Review WNR 8-5-97

FYROM: TAT Savers Call For Civil Disobedience
Skopje Nova Makedonija in Macedonian 4 May 97 pp 1-2
Report by G. Karevskii: “Civil Disobedience Announced”

TAT Savers Call For Civil Disobedience

By G. Karevski, translated from Skopje Nova Makedonija, 4 May 1997, pp. 1–2

Bitola, 3 May. The Republican Association and the Board of the Savers of the collapsed TAT Saving House organized a second protest rally against the measures of the Macedonian Government to compensate the double-crossed savers.

The demonstration started today at a symbolic time, that is at five minutes to twelve. This time over 4,000 people gathered at the main square, “Goce Delcev” in Bitola, including citizens who have been robbed by similar, though smaller saving houses like “Alfa S” and “Lavci,” and people from a number of other towns. They were also joined by a number of workers facing redundancy in Bitola.

The number of the written slogans was greater today; they mainly indicated the desperate misery in which several tens of thousands of families live, particularly following the financial scandals.

The first to address the crowd of 4,000 people was the president of the Republican Association of the TAT Savers, Mende Mladenovski, who said that the state was trying to hide numerous other affairs from the eyes of the people; for this purpose it proclaimed the TAT affair to be the allegedly biggest one in the country. He said that the rally today is another warning and a clear message to the Government of Macedonia that the savers, who were bereft of their life savings solely because the highest financial and other institutions in the state would not accept the draft law on the saving houses of TAT, “Alfa S,” or “Lavci,” since it [the law] only offers partial and not complete solutions.

Alluding to the obvious involvement of high-ranking personalities in the TAT affair, Mladenovski read from the speaker's rostrum a number of reports on the recoupment of large sums of money from the saving house during the first 50 days of the year. He openly suggested that this could not have been done by anybody, and he reported that on 3 January “someone” recouped 610,000 German marks [DM] from TAT, “another one” [got] DM620,000 on 8 January, “a third one” 1,450,000 on 27 January, while DM790,000 were paid from TAT to somebody on 5 February. The record sum of DM1,550,000 was recouped on 5 February.

According to Mladenovski, this increases the duty of the competent institutions and bodies to name the people who regained the money, after which they should be dealt with according to the law. As far as the method for compensating all the double-crossed savers concerned, Mende Mladenovski said that the cheated savers in TAT would remain consistent in their request, that is, that the government should accept the draft measures suggested by the savers themselves upon consultation with leading experts in the fields of economy and bureaucracy. “However, we are not going to hold discussions with deaf people! Bitola will no longer plead. We are ready to bring the world in the town if necessary,” the president of the Republican Association of TAT Savers, Mende Mladenovski, said in conclusion.

A Public Appeal to Nikolovska

After a dozen speakers had addressed the crowd, the vice president of the association, Ljupco Kuzmanovski, reported that about 9,400 families which have their life savings in TAT have announced civil disobedience starting from today. Kuzmanovski said that it would first involve evading communal taxes and all other pubic expenditures. He called upon Sonja Nikolovska, the owner of TAT, to reveal by 5 May the names of the people from the present government who are involved in the scandal. This deadline for opening her “secret lists” was actually the result of the one-hour-long nervous discussion that she had with the delegation of the Republican Association and the Board of the Savers in TAT.

Namely, as the members of the delegation reported, at the beginning of the discussion Sonja Nikolovska tried to “cool them down” by assuring them that there are no people from the present government involved and that the money of the citizens is here, that the liabilities and the cash in her savings house are at an approximate level. However, she remained quiet after she was asked why TAT does not open its doors if the money is there and if there is no scandal.

Finally, responding to the pressure of the delegation of the savers, Nikolovska promised that on Monday, 5 May, when the court's expert testimony is to start, she would take the incriminating list from her safe, in which she has allegedly put it, and hand it over to the representatives of all her clients.

Nevertheless, her “initial hesitation” — “there are no lists” and then—“I will take the list on Monday”—are good reasons for great suspicion among the people who have now stopped seeing her as a local hero and who are loudly asking whether this promise is not just another trump card in the sleeve of Nikolovska who is fighting for time. They consider in an equal way the “sweet letter” that she sent the savers from prison.

People Prevented From Moving

Irritated by the arrogance of her pre-Easter message in the electronic media in which she informed the public that she was feeling well and wished them a pleasant Easter and 1 May [holiday], a great number of the participants at the rally wanted to move the protest to the front of her house.

However, the leaders of the Republican Association and of the Board of the Savers in TAT, Mende Mladenovski and Ilija Nevenovski, aware of the great risk in transferring the mob to such a sensitive place, reacted rationally and the attempt of the nervous savers failed.

An hour after the rally ended, the representatives of the Board of the Savers in TAT met the Mayor of Bitola [recently released from prison on bail] Siljan Micevski and with Bitola's representatives at the National Assembly. They decided to ask for a meeting with Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski on Monday, 5 May, to remind him of the promises he gave publicly in his speech in parliament, as well as of the promises that he gave at the first meetings with the representatives of the Republican Association of TAT Savers.

After the meeting today and after the proclamation of civil disobedience, the savers in the collapsed TAT threatened to undertake measures that would “correspond” to the future activities of the government. “If the government accepts our proposals, there will not be any more rallies. However, if the draft law that it has defined becomes reality, we will be awful! We will be awful,” the president of the Board of TAT Savers, Ilija Nevenovski, said at the end of the rally.