Macedonian prime minister hits back at opposition leader after the latter releases tapes

Macedonia's conservative prime minister has denounced the opposition leader for attempting to "destabilize the country" and working for "foreign service interests" after the latter released taped conversations of what he says is new evidence of the premier's involvement in a real-estate lucrative business.

Hours after Zoran Zaev, leader of the main opposition Social Democratic Union, released the conversations, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski held a rally attended by thousands of supporters of the ruling center-right VMRO-DPMNE party Sunday to deny wrongdoing and proclaim he won't resign.

Zaev called for the government to step down, claiming corruption at the highest levels, including mismanagement of funds, control of the judiciary and media, spurious criminal prosecutions of opponents and illegal wiretapping of more than 20,000 people, including public officials, religious leaders and foreign ambassadors.