Macedonian Lions (Macedonia)

Country: Macedonia
Details of Formation: The Lions were set up by the Interior Ministry during an armed insurgency in 2001 by ethnic Albanians (Amnesty International). Main actors in building up the group were Prime Minister Ljubco Georgevski and Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski.
Details of Termination: Disbanding began in 2002 after Macedonian VMRO-DPMNE was replaced by a coalition government led by the Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM) and the Democratic Union for Integration (BDI). Transformation of the unit was not completed until 2003 with many former members integrated into the legalised security structures.
Purpose: The group’s purpose was to defend ethnic Macedonian Orthodox against perceived threats from ethnic Albanians (Amnesty International). They were also used to fight Albanian rebels.
Organisation: The Lions were linked to Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski. They allegedly were loyal to him alone. Lion members were employed by the state.
Weapons and Training: The Lions were armed with knives and guns, such as Kalashnikovs (Amnesty International). They were armed by the Ministry of Interior and received training at the Center for Strategic Studies on the outskirts of Skopje.
Size: A news source of 2002 mentions 3,000 Lions members.
Reason for Membership: --
Treatment of Civilians: The Lions are supposed to defend ethnic Macedonians against ethnic Albanians. In 2002, they beat and threatened two Muslim Macedonian civilians. After the victims filed a complaint at the police office, no serious investigations ensued and cover-up intents from the police and the Interior Ministry followed. Over time, ill-treatments of ethnic Albanians and Roma by Lion members increased. In one reported occasion, the Lions entered a village and opened fire against the Mosque and other buildings (Amnesty International).
Other Information: The group is also known as Paramilitary 2000
References: Amnesty International. 2002. “The "lions" beat tonight: alleged ill-treatment of Macedonian citizens by paramilitary police.” AI index Eur 65/025/2002. December.