US official criticizes pardons for Macedonian politicians

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A U.S. State Department official says a decision by Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov to pardon politicians accused in a major wiretapping scandal has damaged the country's credibility.

Hoyt Brian Yee, who is Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, called on Macedonia's squabbling political leaders Thursday to "act urgently to repair the damage done by these pardons."

Speaking to journalists in Skopje after two-day talks with Macedonian leaders, he called for "clear, comprehensive and unambiguous" action.

Macedonia has been in political turmoil since February 2015 following a wiretapping scandal, and early elections planned for June 5 have been postponed.

The pardons prompted an angry reaction from both main parties, criticism from the European Union and street protests over the past month in Macedonia's capital, Skopje, and other cities.