‘Zlata’ the controversial nationalist

His party, VMRO-DPMNE, sees him as an iron fist, the member who undertakes all the dirty tasks, and Slav-Macedonians see him as something of a popular hero. Interior Minister Ljube Boshkowski, a fanatical nationalist, formerly a pastry chef in Croatia, was in favor of a showdown with the Albanians during the crisis. In fact he persuaded Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski to give the army heavy Sukhoi 27 bombers like those the Soviets used to flatten Grozny in Chechnya. The Russian craft were not used because they are not suited to low-intensity battle, but Boshkowski and fanatical party supporters from the Red Lions militia ethnically cleansed several villages occupied by Albanians. Zlata – meaning pastry chef – as Boshkowski is known in Skopje, has passed himself off to Slav-Macedonians as the man «who saved Macedonia» from the Albanians, which has made him very popular. Now that «our Macedonia» is no longer in danger from the Albanians but his party risks losing power, Boshkowski is back on the front line, shouldering the burden of the election campaign and waving the banner of nationalism. The opposition openly accuses him of dubious schemes, even of attempting to stop the elections. Western diplomats and international representatives in Skopje hint that he is behind the episodes aimed at heightening tension and possibly canceling the elections. Some say that if his party loses the elections he will be forced to leave the country the next day.