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Macedonian Budget Passed Amid Clashes, Evictions Of Opposition Deputies

Tension In The Macedonian Parliament
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WATCH: Tense scenes in the Macedonian parliament (in Macedonian)

SKOPJE -- RFE/RL's correspondent in Skopje reports that plainclothes Interior Ministry police have expelled opposition lawmakers from parliament ahead of a vote on the government's 2013 budget plan.

The budget was passed after the evictions on December 24.

Opposition lawmaker Mile Andonov, a member of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), described to RFE/RL's Balkan Service correspondent Zorana Gadazovska how he was forcibly removed from the parliament building.

"There were 15 to 20 police officers in civilian clothes who entered the main hall of the parliament," he said. "Without warning us, they started to pull us outside. Mitre Veljanovski, [a member of parliament from the SDSM] was seriously hurt. The others were injured in this mess, but not seriously."

Gadazovska said she and other journalists had also been expelled from the building by parliamentary security before the opposition deputies were removed.

Earlier on December 24, there was tight security around parliament -- with traffic diverted from the center of Skopje -- as government supporters and opposition demonstrators staged protests outside.

The two crowds threw stones, eggs, and bottles at each other from opposite sides of a police cordon.

Supporters of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party were angry that opposition lawmakers had blocked passage of the budget.

They said pensions, social benefits, farm subsidies, and government projects had been jeopardized.

Opposition demonstrators had wanted some 200 million euros (approx. $265 million) in spending cuts from funds earmarked for government furniture and official cars -- as well as for constructing and taking care of monuments.

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