Gramoz Ruçi’s Evolution in 30 Years: From Ordering Killings to Labelling Protesters “Cannon Fodder”

At a meeting in Libofsha, Fier, Speaker of Parliament Gramoz Ruçi spoke to inhabitants at the outer ring road who are protesting against the demolition of governments’ decision to demolish their houses and business facilities.

I have been worriedly following the protest at the “Shqiponja Square” [the Eagle Roundabout], regarding expropriations or lack of legalizations for public work purposes. I strongly feel that is means for a house to be demolished, be it with or without a permit because I am one of them. I am a peasant who has built with his house with his bare hands throughout the many years of my his life; and I know that the one who knows the worth of a house is not the one who has the money and builds it, but it’s the one who has little money and builds it on his own, and this is painful”.

Unfortunately, they are now paying for the wrongdoings of the past and current political establishment, who talk in legal terms when they are in power, and in a different way when in opposition.

They should not be used as cannon fodder. Yesterday a girl lost her fingers. Why? Because that was the interest of politics. That’s why I call on you to seat with us and discuss. Let’s understand laws. Citizen’s interests are [contained] in them. If someone thinks the solution is not fair, there is the court. That’s how a state operates. I have felt the situation and followed it closely; it requires wisdom, calmness, and caution to solve the problem.

These are words spoken 28 years after the fall of the communist regime in the country, by its last Minister of Interior, who ordered the police to use guns in the anti-communist protest of the Shkodra citizens on 2 April 1991. Following is part of the order to Shkodra police signed by Minister of Interior Gramoz Ruçi on 31 March 1991:

No one needs to ask his superior before acting with the force of batons. Hit them violently when they start gathering. Expert snipers must take dominating heights [in buildings] in order to paralyze those who might shoot with guns our forces from within the crowd. Our forces clashing with protesters should not bear guns.

On 2 April 1991, police executed four innocent citizens and injured hundreds of others. Bujar Bishanaku, Arben Broci, Nazmi Kryeziu, and Besnik Ceka were later pronounced “Martyrs for Democracy” after the fall of the regime.

In 2017 Gramoz Ruçi became the Speaker of the Albanian Parliament. For the first time since the fall of communism, the US Embassy did not participate in the first session of the new legislature, when Parliament is constituted and a new government receives its mandate. The reason for the absence seemed to be the election of Gramoz Ruçi as Speaker of Parliament.

In 2009, former US Ambassador Withers sent a cable to the US State Department, released by Wikileaks, in which he stated that since 2005 Ruçi was banned from entering the US because of his “ties to organized crime”.

According to a leaked cable from the US Embassy from 2009, published by Wikileaks:

Ruçi has long-standing ties to narcotics traffickers and organized crime. Ruçi has also been banned from entering the U.S. since 2005 due to a permanent visa ineligibility.

During the previous four years, Ruçi was the leader of the parliamentary group of the Socialist Party, and as such showed at times very little respect for the Constitution.

Speaker of Parliament is the most powerful position Ruçi has held so far. More than twenty-five years ago, he was the last Minister of Interior Affairs under the communist regime, allegedly overseeing the widespread destruction of secret state archives. He was also First Secretary of the Party of Labor in Tepelena. He has never apologized for his involvement in the murderous regime.

In the eyes of the anti-communist part of the Albanian society, based on his past involvement, Gramoz Ruçi is the most striking dirty mark of the old regime among those in power. Following his nomination as Speaker of Parliament, Gramoz Ruçi was repeatedly accused by the formerly prosecuted Albanians for his involvement in the crimes of the communist regime.