Macedonia (Republic of Macedonia) FYROM: SEEMO alarmed about developments in Macedonia

Macedonia (Republic of Macedonia) FYROM, Macedonia (Republic of Macedonia) FYROM, 05/03/2017, 09:45

The Vienna based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is alarmed about the developments in Macedonia (Republic of Macedonia / FYROM).

Reporter Aleksandar Todevski and cameraman Vladimir Zhelcevski, from A1on, a news website, were hospitalized after being attacked on the streets in Skopje by five men on Tuesday 28 February 2017 in the evening.

On 2 March editor at NOVA TV Borjan Jovanovski, who received many threats in the past, was verbally attacked as "traitor" during a lunch in a restaurant in Skopje. A young man spat in his face.

SEEMO was informed by five cases of verbal threats against journalists in Skopje in the past seven days included threats against journalists Branko Trickovski, who is also a columnist for the critical newspaper Sloboden Pecat, Two young men turned up at his home and accused him of being a "traitor. Two year ago, on 13 May 2015 his car was set on fire.

Prior to this, it was revealed on 11 January 2017 that Daniela Takeva, journalist of a local TV station in Berovo, will take legal action against the town’s Mayor after he left a status on his Facebook account in which he used derogatory language and hate speech against Takeva.

On 23 January unknown perpetrators set fire to the home garage of journalist Zoran Miloshevski in the town of Prilep. Miloshevski is a correspondent for the weekly Fokus, owner of web portal Publikum and associate of the portal Free Macedonia, and is also known for his fierce criticism of the current political establishment in the country. The fire was put out and the incident was reported to police authorities.

Many journalists who are critical about VMRO DPMNE party and former prime Minister Nikola Gruevski are being subjected to an incendiary campaign on social networks and some web-pages.

A campaign initiative titled Stop Operation Soros (SOS) was launched mid-January in Macedonia and is dedicated to “countering the influence of American activist and billionaire George Soros”. The founders of this initiative claim to be a group of open-minded citizens, but have in actuality been linked to the government and pro-government media. This speculation was backed up after former PM and current leader of ruling party VMRO DPMNE Nikola Gruevski came out to the media and verbally attacked NGO’s that receive funding from abroad.

Independent media outlets and non-government organizations in Macedonia are commonly mentioned as “Sorosoids” by pro-government groups, also if they are not receiving any money from the Soros foundation.

Several VMRO-DPMNE supporters named the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) as a “Soros propaganda”, as also propaganda service of the main opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM). On 12 February in a TV show the host claimed BIRN belonged to a media network financed by the British intelligence service.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.

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