07 November 1997
Macedonia's Law on Commerce and the ensuing police violence
By Claude Cahn
In July 1995, Macedonia passed a new Law on Commerce (Zakon za Trgovija). This, together with the Law on Commercial Associations (Zakon za Trgovski Društva), passed in 1996, now provides a legal regime for small business deemed more European than previous legislation. Previous legal norms regulating trade dated from socialist Yugoslavia, or had been adopted during the brief and unsuccessful attempt between 1989 and 1991 of the government of Ante Marković to introduce market reforms. Roma are heavily over-represented among Macedonia's new legions of the unemployed and many depend on street vending for their livelihood. The aftermath of the adoption of the law has been two years of uninterrupted police beatings and at least one death.
ECONOMIC PRECONDITIONS TO RUIN
Yugoslavia already had economic difficulties in the 1970s. Beginning in the 1980s, however, the entire structure of the Yugoslav economy began to change and jobs Roma previously typically performed began to vanish. Many jobs for unskilled manual labourers were replaced by machines. 45 year-old Nežad Ibraimov told the ERRC:
My generation of Romani men in Kočani worked in the rice-fields doing work such as carrying rice bags, loading and things like that. But in the early 1980s, we were all replaced by combine harvesters.
Following the loss of his job at the rice factory, Mr Ibraimov went to work at a local brewery. According to him, approximately one hundred Roma had been employed at the brewery. The work forte had been overwhelmingly Roma, while the management had been primarily non-Roma. However, in 1990 the brewery was privatised. This was a catastrophe for the Roma of Kočani:
A businessman bought it. We worked there for three or four more days and then they came and told us, "You are free", and one hundred Roma lost their jobs. Now it is all gadje [non-Roma] up there. We were replaced by non-Roma. I think they have hired back two Roma.
Since the moment of its independence on September 17, 1991, Macedonia has faced economic difficulties even beyond those of other countries from around the former-Communist bloc. In addition to the technology lag and a large public sector work forte, Macedonia has neighbour problems. Access to ports in Albania has been rendered difficult due to state friction over Macedonia's large Albanian minority as well as serious infrastructure and security problems. The international trade embargo imposed on rump-Yugoslavia in mid-1992 rendered trade with its former fellow-Yugoslav republic difficult, given that Macedonia's political stability depended to a large part on both Western friendliness and the UNPROFOR troops stationed there. Further, although Western Europe lay at Macedonia's border with Greece, that country imposed a trade blockade on Macedonia due to what Greece perceived as an attempt by Macedonia to usurp Greek state symbols and historical figures. Macedonia's most frequented trade route at present is through Bulgaria to Turkey, although the Bulgarian border, too, is troubled because of the complicated nature of Bulgarian-Macedonian relations.
The Macedonian economic catastrophe means near total unemployment for Roma in the country. Official statistics report that unemployment in Macedonia is currently approximately 10%. Unemployment among Roma is officially approximately double that. The ERRC observed, however, a much deeper crisis than the official statistics reflect, with evident massive chronic unemployment among Roma. At present, thirty of the approximately one thousand Roma living in Kočani have jobs, mostly working for the state forestry service. Roma in the town of Prilep in southern-central Macedonia reported similar problems. According to one local Rom:
There used to be factories here: textile factories like Biljana and Polytext and big construction companies like Partizanka. All of them are closed now. The only factory still open is the tobacco concern Tutunsky Kombinat. They employ Roma, but only the ones who were already working there before 1990. The young people finish school with absolutely no chance of getting a job in the factories.
The overwhelming majority of the Roma with whom we spoke were living on state social aid. Discrimination plays no small part in this situation. Senaj Osmanov, a young Romani activist in Stip, told the ERRC:
The local shoe factory always has openings - they once advertised one hundred and fifty jobs - but they never employ Roma. The requirements are that you have completed eight-class primary school, so many qualified Roma have applied, but they haven't hired a single Rom.
Approximately 5000 Roma live in Kumanovo in north-central Macedonia. Roma with whom the ERRC spoke could name all of the people who still had jobs in the state sector. Mr Bektešovski did not attribute the lack of jobs solely to the economic crisis:
There is an economic crisis, yes. Times are bad for everybody, it is true. But we notice that other Macedonians often get flats and jobs. Roma don't.
The result of the massive dismissal of Roma from the work force which took place in Macedonia was manifold. First of all, Roma now often take on work which is exploitative. Serdar Asanov, a 16-year-old Romani orphan living with his aunt, told the ERRC that he regularly packs boxes of grapes for 10 Denars (less than 0.35 German Marks) per 20 kilo box. Some Roma, on the other hand, turn to crime – mostly in the form of petty – while others attempt to live solely off the meagre sum afforded by the Macedonian welfare system, 4200 Denars (approximately 140 German Marks) per month per family of four. Many, however, have begun selling at the bazaar.
ARTICLE 6: CRIMINALISING GYPSY TRADE
As a direct result of the closing or dysfunction of the larger part of Macedonia's industrial sector, outdoor trade, including legal and illegal selling at bazaars, as well as freelance illegal street trade, began to increase in the early 1990s.
Heavily affected by the factory closings, Roma were over-represented among the new street dealers. At the same time as factories closed and Roma took to the streets to sell, however, the developing Macedonian small business sector began to put pressure on the government to crack down on unregulated trade. Various arguments appeared to legitimate the coming crackdown. First of all, it was argued that revenues were being lost due to an uncontrolled flood of smuggled goods – especially textiles – from Turkey. Secondly, unregulated public street trade was increasingly viewed as "not European" and therefore not in step with the spirit of the times in the new Macedonia. Finally, consumer safety was deemed to be at risk if unregulated trade continued.
In August 1993, the government attempted to respond to these concerns by issuing a decree explicitly prohibiting the sale of certain goods at retail markets. Finally, in April 1995, the Macedonian parliament passed a new Law on Commerce (Zakon za Trgovija). Article 6 of this law articulated the ban on the sale of textiles outdoors, allowing only the sale of agricultural products, some foodstuffs, and trinkets of various kinds (galanterija i bižuterija).
It is unclear to what extent discriminatory intentions infected the drafting of the new Law on Commerce. Legal experts with whom the ERRC spoke were united in their conviction that the law had not specifically targeted Roma. In Macedonia, according to one member of the Macedonian Helsinki Committee, Roma are not hated, but are rather "treated like pets". Nevertheless, it was widely acknowledged that "everybody knows that Gypsies sell textiles" and several police officers with whom the ERRC spoke explained that Roma are not, for the most part, involved in violent crime, but rather enter the criminal justice process through their involvement in smuggling and illegal trade. One lawyer explained the underlying necessity for the new legislation to the ERRC:
The law had to be the way it is now. It is a good law. There were lots of smuggled goods, and the state was unable to collect tax revenues. Also, it was impossible to regulate the quality of the goods being imported since, again, most of it was smuggled. People were selling everything before; Gypsies were selling mostly textile goods, such as jeans, mainly brought in from Turkey.
The 1995 law was a big improvement. Earlier regulation was socialist and much less comprehensive. This new law is a good law in that it is very effective. There are not so many problems with this law, except maybe this problem with Gypsies, but this too is not a problem; all countries, once they have a western civilisation, regulate trade in this manner. The state needs control.
There is a widespread belief in Macedonia that street vending is not honourable work. Many people with whom the ERRC spoke seemed to believe that it is not, in fact, work at all. Due to the over-representation of Roma among the new vendors, this stigma is rapidly developing into an anti-Gypsy discourse. As such, although no one in Macedonia acknowledged anti Roma sentiment in society, it is plausible that the inclusion of a ban on the outdoor sale of textiles may have resulted from a (possibly unarticulated) desire to do away with "Gypsy-like activity".
While uncertainties concerning discriminatory intent in the drafting of the Law on Commerce remain, the disparate impact this has had upon Roma is clear. Roma leaders with whom the ERRC spoke told us that Roma are significantly over-represented among Macedonia's unemployed and it is very common for unemployed Roma to make their living by selling on the street or at the bazaar. They were therefore disproportionately affected when the new law went into effect. Mr Moadin Saitovski, co-ordinator of the Kumanovo branch of the Party for the Total Emancipation of Roma told the ERRC, "Our problem is called Article Six. From this, almost all other problems flow."
Public outdoor sale was always limited to strictly delineated areas (bazaars and kiosks) and times (market days), even before the 1995 Law on Commerce. Also, it has always been necessary to procure a license for public trade. The only innovation in the new law is the notable absence of clothing and textiles among the list of goods permitted for outdoor sale, even in the legally designated areas. However, following its adoption, the new law provided the context for a major crackdown on all forms of illegal outdoor trade. This began in August 1995 and has continued with periods of greater and lesser intensity up to the present day. Targeting first of all unlicensed vendors and secondly public sellers of textile and other illegal goods, police now subject vendors, especially Roma vendors, to both procedural abuses and physical violence. One Romani man in Tetovo described what he and most Roma now face since the adoption of the law:
The police here torment merchants. The crackdown started in Summer 1995, two years ago. Now when a policeman comes, he will want to know if you have a license. But to get a license, you have to have a place. I don't even have a house; how would I get a vending space? The police take your merchandise and you have to pay a fine. If you have connections, you can get your merchandise back, but if you don't have connections, the police keep your things.
16-year-old Serdar Asanov from the eastern Macedonian town of Kočani has been detained by police both in the central town of Ĺ tip and in Makedonska Kamenica, in the northeast. He told the ERRC:
Six weeks ago I went to Kamenica to sell at the market. There is a clothing market there, but you need money to rent a space. I didn't have the money to rent a space, so I put my things out on six boxes, stacking one box on top of another to make a sort of table. It was about 6:00 in the morning. I had stockings, T-shirts, shirts and some children's one-piece suits. Altogether I had clothing worth about 36,000 Denars [approximately 1100 German Marks].
Almost as soon as I had set up my stand, a policeman came and kicked my boxes over. Everything fell on the ground. I asked him to please not kick my things, because I was selling on consignment, I told him I was sorry – that I was in Kamenica for the first time. He said "Fuck your Gypsy tribe". When I told him not to insult me, he took me in.
At the police station, there were two policemen. First they made an inventory of my things. Then they took alt of my things into another room. They acted as if I was selling to hurt them. They said things like "Why are you against us?" I asked them why they had kicked over my box, rather than telling me not to sell. That's when they started beating me. Both of them beat me repeatedly on my shoulders and back with their sticks. I'm not sure for how long- it seemed like two hours.
After that they told me I could go. I had no money to get back to Kočani, so I asked them to give me one pair of stockings to sell for bus fare. That made the taller of the two policemen really angry and he punched me three limes. I had to walk back to Kočani – alt seventy kilometres. It took me a day and a night. Before I left, the police gave me a ticket for 7000 Denars [approximately 270 German Marks] and told me that if I didn't pay within two days, I would go to jail. The merchandise which the police confiscated wasn't mine. I was working on commission for someone else. We sell and get a percentage of the sale. My aunts borrowed the money to pay the fine and to pay back the money for the merchandise which was confiscated. We are still in debt. We pay back 3000 Denars per month [approximately 100 German Marks] from our social welfare money and try to live on the remaining 1200 [approximately 40 German Marks].
In Skopje, vendors report bi-weekly raids by up to twenty-five police officers of the Bit Bazaar, the Green Bazaar and the Stone Bridge, the latter of which is off-limits to alt vendors. 17-year-old A.M., who regularly sells stockings and bandages on the Stone Bridge, told the ERRC:
I was beaten by the police for selling six weeks ago. There was a big raid which took place at about len in the morning. There were two to three vans which came and blocked off alt of the possible entrances to the bridge. Then they put seven or eight of us into one van with two or three policemen. They took us to the police station. One guy ran and a policeman caught him about 200 metres from the bridge. He told me later that the policeman beat him with his fist when he caught him and used karate on his neck.
When we arrived at the police station, they made us wait in a room and then they brought us in individually for questioning. I was interrogated by three policemen. They made a report and wrote down alt of the things I had been selling. Then one police man asked me why I sell. I told him, "I Bell so I will have something to eat."
Then the policeman asked, "Why do you people lie and cheat innocent people?" I said, "I don't lie. They can see perfectly well what they are getting. I sit in the sun alt day for twenty Denars."
Then out-of-the-blue, one of the policemen stood up and started hitting me with his stick. He hit me four or five limes, on my shoulders, on my back, and on my knees. The whole time he was shouting, "Why do you sell? Don't let me catch you doing this again!" He called me "Gypsy".
Then they locked me up in a cell with the other seven or eight people I had been arrested with. I found out that the police had beaten another person from the group as well. I was there for twelve hours and I was released late in the evening – maybe 11 o'clock. I wasn't given any food while I was locked up. My mother and father had been to see me and they had brought food, but the police had not let them in. I wasn't charged or fined – they kept my merchandise though. I couldn't walk for a week because of where the policeman had hit me on my knee.
That was the third time I had been arrested. The first time was seven or eight months ago. But I have been chased many limes. One time I jumped the fifty stairs on the bridge in three leaps. I was so scared my soul came out of me. The raids come two or three limes per week. It is quieter now because it is summer, but just wait for the first week of September – there will be raids three times a week then.
The total number of unlicensed vendors and jeans-hawkers outstrips the capacities of the police and public inspectors sanctioned to enforce the law to such an extent that police must choose when and where, among the many "violations" occurring daily to enforce the law. They frequently use arbitrary criteria in making such decisions. As a result, arrest and punishment vary widely from municipality to municipality. Broadly speaking, the ERRC observed the following police reactions to illegal public sale in various combinations: confiscation of goods, fines with the possibility of appeal, fines absent the possibility of appeal, beatings in public, detention, and beatings in detention.
Practice appears to vary both from municipality to-municipality and, indeed, from day-to-day. When asked how they decide whom to arrest and whom to ignore, one policeman in Tetovo told the ERRC, "There is no procedure. We arrest them if we feel like it. Some days we feel like it, other days we don't."
Finally, though perhaps most importantly, most Roma with whom the ERRC spoke were adamant that the police singled out Roma and, in areas with Macedonian majorities, Albanians, far more than ethnic Macedonians when applying the Law on Commerce. Significantly, few of the non-Roma vendors with whom the ERRC spoke reported having been detained by the police. One Rom summed up his frustration and despair at the present situation in Macedonia as follows:
What can I say? I have a wife and a child, a mother, two uncles and a sister. Seven people live in my house and we have only one room. They depend on me to feed them. We have to eat and we have no other possibilities here in Macedonia. I have been beaten by the police about ten times, and I have had my things confiscated about that many times as well. They always scream at you that you shouldn't sell, but they give us no alternative. We would starve if we didn't sell.
BAD LAW: MRS. MEHMED DIES WHILE SELLING BISCUITS
On August 9, 1996, approximately one year after going into effect, Article 6 and the subsequent crackdown on illegal public vending in Macedonia finally produced results implied by the law and subsequent burst of repressive police and municipal authority activity. On that date, a 41-year-old Romani woman named Rekibe Mehmed died in the course of arrest after she was chased, shoved from behind and then beaten during a police raid on the Green Bazaar in downtown Skopje. 11-year-old Jukse Mehmed, the son of Mrs Rekibe Mehmed and a witness to the event, told the ERRC:
We were selling crackers and biscuits at the Green Bazaar at around noon when the police came. We ran. I was running ahead of my mother. I am faster than her. I heard something happening behind me and I saw a policeman pushing my mother into a bush. She had fallen. Then he hit her on the head twice from behind with his stick on the head. Then he kicked her. Then he looked at me and started running at me. I got scared and ran away.
I stopped running after a while and came back. My mother was lying in the street. Someone must have pulled her out of the bush. I started crying and yelling, "Mom! Mom!" There was a big crowd and my brother came and carried her to the hospital.
25-year-old Birsan Mehmed, also a son of Mrs Mehmed, was selling at the other side of the Green Bazaar when the police raid on August 9 began. He told the ERRC:
I was on the other side of the bazaar and I saw the police coming. Everyone started running. I grabbed my things and ran too, but then I heard that something had happened to my mother, so I went back. I found her in the street surrounded by a crowd of people. There was blood coming from both of her ears and she was lying in a strange position. So I picked her up and started carrying her to the hospital – there is a hospital very close to the Green Bazaar. But I knew as soon as I picked her up that she was dead.
I carried her to the entrance of the hospital. They took my mother from me at the entrance but they wouldn't let me in. They told me to wait outside and they closed the door.
15-year-old Suared Mehmed, a third son of Mrs Mehmed's, had been at home during the event. He described to the ERRC what followed:
Someone came up here to the Suto Orizari neighbourhood at about 12:30 in the afternoon to tell us what had happened. My father and I went straight down to the hospital, but they weren't letting anyone in. There were policemen all around the hospital and they kept us outside. Around 9:00 in the evening they finally told us that she had died, and they let us take her body home.
11-year-old Jukse Mehmed told the ERRC, "In the hospital, they told me she was sick and that was why she died."
On Monday, August 11, two days after the incident, the Ministry of the Interior announced that an autopsy had revealed that Mrs Mehmed had died of heart failure. Shortly thereafter, an investigating judge decided that on the basis of the autopsy, there would be no investigation. An article published shortly thereafter in the Macedonian daily Nova Makedonia quoted an aunt of Mrs Mehmed to the effect that it was a pity that while washing the body for burial they had not photographed it, since she had large bruises on her neck and right shoulder. The Mehmed family reported to the ERRC that no one from the authorities had ever contacted them or taken statements from them. They also believe that none of the other eyewitness es have ever been contacted by the authorities. The Mehmed family also told the ERRC that local television stations recorded witness statements on video cassette and submitted them to the Ministry of the Interior, but the Ministry evidently did not regard these as a legitimate form of complaint, because the case was not opened. Assistant to the Minister of the Interior Dr. Zoran Verusevski told the ERRC that the Ministry had not received any appeals to open the case. The family of the victim believes that no disciplinary measures were ever taken against the policemen responsible for Mrs Mehmed's death, and statements made by both Dr Verusevski and Foreign Ministry spokesman Zoran Todorov to the ERRC support this contention.
In the case of Rekibe Mehmed, the Macedonian authorities evidently concluded that it was sufficient to demonstrate that she had died of heart failure in order to reassure themselves that there had been no wrongdoing; the circumstances under which she died left the field of play by the time the Ministry undertook to explain the event. Further, it has apparently not occurred to anyone to revisit the legislation underpinning the entire event to review whether, in fact, middle-aged women should fear measures which may prove fatal for the crime of selling crackers and biscuits on the street in downtown Skopje.
CONCLUSION: THE PRODUCTION OF AMDI BAIRAM
Amdi Bairam is a businessman and a politician. He currently holds the Skopje Centre district seat in the Macedonian parliament. He was elected in November 1995 after the MP previously occupying the Skopje Centre seat died. Joining the grand old don of Macedonian Roma politics, Mr Faik Abdi, Amdi Bairam became the second Rom in the Macedonian parliament.
Although Amdi Bairam has been involved in politics for the past ten years, he is, he claims, first and foremost a businessman. In fact, it was largely as a result of success in business that he entered politics at alt. By his own account, with the aid of his father, who owned a series of businesses in New Jersey in the United States, Mr Bairam became one of the first private individuals in Yugoslavia to own a factory; his Sutex textile concern is named after the Suto Orizari neighbourhood of Skopje which is, with its 30,000-40,000 inhabitants, one of the largest Roma neighbourhoods in the world and the centre of Roma life in Macedonia.
Amdi Bairam very likely has done more to improve the situation of Roma in Macedonia than any other single individual. This is because, following the prohibition of the outdoor sale of textiles set down in the 1995 Law on Commerce, Amdi Bairam has made it his project to create indoor spaces where Roma can sell textiles and thus evade the ban.
Sutex II, established in late 1995, is a 1700-square-metre space located in the basement of a shopping centre in downtown Skopje. Inside there are 240 stands selling domestic and imported textiles. According to Amdi Bairam, 40 of the stalls are owned and operated by himself, while the other 200 are owned by small Roma firms who sell textile goods on consignment from Mr Bairam. As Mr Bairam told the ERRC, "Their salespeople sell here. I get 15%."
According to Mr Bairam, the downtown space was not his first attempt to establish some sort of business shelter for Roma affected by Paragraph 6. He told the ERRC:
Before I bought the space which is now Sutex II, I was looking for a 20,000 square metre space. I'm still determined to open something of that size; I want to create something like the German chain Aldi – a huge shopping centre, slightly out of town but with parking and a bus line, where people can come to shop. But I have had problems. When the Skopje fair was being privatised, I made a bid for it with the intention of putting 3000 firms there. This would have created roughly 6000 jobs. The opening bid was around 200,000 German Marks. My bid was higher- much, much, much higher. I wanted to make sure I had no competition whatsoever. Sure enough, I had offered the highest bid.
According to Mr Bairam, he did not, however, succeed in acquiring the Skopje fairgrounds:
The agency in charge was supposed to issue a public statement within 15 days, stating that I was the buyer of the fairgrounds. After 15 days, however, there was no statement, and then the property was withdrawn from the market. I was really angry and I made a statement in parliament about it. I told them, "So, a Rom can't buy here. When you saw that the Rom wants to buy the fairgrounds, the selling stopped." The fairgrounds are now in complete disuse.
According to an interview in the Macedonian financial Journal Eko Express, Mr Bairam has run into discriminatory obstacles on at least two other occasions while attempting to establish indoor business spaces for former street vendors:
In Kumanovo, one condition of the deal I was working on was that I not to employ anyone who had formerly sold at the bazaars. I thought this was unreasonable.
I was also interested in buying the Skopjanka department store in downtown Skopje, but the employees there, who are shareholders in the store, insisted on becoming the owners of three floors of the building, forgetting that the farm is in bankruptcy and that they have unpaid debts amounting to approximately six mil lion German Marks. They even told me, "A Gypsy cannot be our supervisor" and they dared to spit on me. I withdrew my offer.
At the time of the ERRC visit, Skopjanka was vacant and boarded up. Mr Bairam sees his business activities, the political empowerment of Roma, and the economic salvation of Macedonia as interrelated projects. He told the ERRC that he has proposed himself for the hitherto non-existent government position of Minister for Small Business;
All the factories are now collecting dust. 95% of the goods sold in Macedonia are imported. Promoting small business is the way out of this economic crisis. People buy, people sell, they start making things- this is how to start the economy.
To most Macedonians, however, Amdi Bairam is something of a joke. Boyish, pudgy and sporting a fat gold ring and clumsy gold wristwatch, Amdi Bairam is more recognisable as a product of the tawdry New Jersey business world than of the Balkans. His political utterances, frequently bogged down by stilted mathematical allusions and impossible percentages, often feature verbatim as political satire in the Macedonian press. A photo montage on the cover of the nationalist opposition weekly Focus showed the head of Amdi Bairam superimposed on the body of Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski and featured the headline "Bairamism", suggesting that cheap Gypsy business had infected the serious politics of the Macedonian state.
Other Roma, too, seem to have some difficulty taking him seriously. While Faik Abdi is the subject of ambivalent but intense emotions among the Roma with whom the ERRC spoke, no one seems to know quite what to make of Amdi Bairam. Faik Abdi himself seems to have made a concerted effort to ignore his presence after Mr Bairam finally gained access to political power. As a result, in October 1996, Mr Bairam lelt Abdi's party, the Party for the Total Emancipation of Roma in Macedonia (PCERM), and formed his own party, the Alliance of Roma in Macedonia.
One foreign observer closely involved in both Roma issues and in the labyrinth of Macedonian business relations confessed a grudging admiration for Mr Bairam:
He is an exploiter of the first class, but he does more for Roma than all of the others combined. After the government decided that Macedonia belonged to the West and should therefore no longer look like a developing country, Amdi Bairam offered the only solution to the ban on trade. He demands 500 German Marks per month from all of those people you see selling in his Ĺ utex basement. He buys the stuff in Turkey and sells it to them. It Works, and he rules everything.
The legal context provided by Article 6 of the Law on Commerce has created Amdi Bairam. With his faith in American-style free enterprise, his access to capital and his optimistic Romani patriotism, Mr Bairam has seized upon the army of Roma rendered incapable of making a living by the Law on Commerce and turned them into a profit-making ethnocentric charity fief dom. Although this project could only have come into being with the active assistance of the Macedonian lawmakers, its appearance is viewed with a mixture of scorn and discomfort by non-Roma in Macedonia. The underlying source of this discomfort is a mistrust that large business projects which have an ethnic dimension have the potential of leaping their business ram parts and becoming the basis for ethno-political activity. There are, in fact, currently rumours that Amdi Bairam's Ĺ utex II may be in violation of Macedonia's new provisions for registering firms under the 1996 Law on Trading Companies and may have to reregister. If Mr Bairam is correct, this procedure will offer innumerable opportunities for discriminatory interference on the part of the authorities.
Roma in Macedonia presently have few alternatives to throwing in their lot with Amdi Bairam or with people like him. Roma rendered desperate by the economic situation on the one hand and the Law on Commerce on the other must seek the protection of "benefactors", upon whose good graces they become dependent. The Macedonian legislation has therefore promoted arbitrary police actions and violence by the police on the one hand and exploitation on the other.