From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Update: Albanian Police Acquired Gas Canisters from Kosovo for 2019 Opposition Protests Policeman arrest an Albanian opposition supporter during an anti-government protest in Tirana on April 13, 2019. - Several police officers were injured in Tirana during an opposition protest calling on Prime Minister Edi Rama to resign, an AFP journalist at the scene said. (Photo by Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP)

The Kosovo media has reported that some of the tear gas possibly used against opposition protests in Albania was taken from the Kosovo Police.

The use of tear gas against citizens and journalists during the 2019 Opposition Protests in Albania raised much criticism both locally and internationally, especially as the protests were not excessively violent. In March 2019, Interior Minister Sander Lleshaj told the public that the gas was not purchased specifically for the Opposition, but that it was part of the stock carried by the State Police.

A document published in the Kosovo media, dated June 6th, 2019, shows that the Kosovo police asked for foreign minister’s confirmation, a routine procedure, to give 500 tear gas canisters to the Albanian Police in an agreement between Kosovo Police Director Rashit Qalaj and Albanian Police Director Ardi Veliu.

According to media reports, it seems that Kosovo police are legally banned from lending or using items other than for their specific purpose.

The Opposition protests took place during February and July 2019 with citizens and organisers calling for an end to government corruption, Edi Rama to resign, and snap elections to be called. The ruling Socialist Party accused them of tarnishing Albania’s image in the international media.

Update: Minister of Interior Sander Lleshaj confirmed the purchase in Parliament today, 12 February, adding that the Albanian government has returned the gas canisters to the Kosovo police without using them.