The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed deep concern once again, after news of violent behavior and attacks on journalists in Macedonia continue to surface..
After condemning the attack on two media workers during protests in Skopje, SEEMO learned that the perpetrators, who left a journalist and a cameraman with injuries severe enough for hospitalization, have not yet been found. On Wednesday March 1, journalist and columnist Branko Trickovski, a known critic of the previous government, reported two young men coming to his home and accusing him of being “a traitor”, yelling at him and later posting the video of the attack on YouTube.
The office front door of the TV 24 correspondents’ team in Ohrid was vandalized with nationalistic slurs. No perpetrators or suspects have been held in any of the attacks.
On 1 March, journalist Borjan Jovanovski was spat on and accused of being „a traitor“ by a man while he was sitting in a restaurant in Skopje. Jovanovski later stated that he believes the attacker was commissioned by officials of the ruling political party.
Independent media outlets and civil society organizations in Macedonia have been facing great pressure and are commonly being verbally attacked by political officials in public, defamed in smear campaigns, and subjected to tax raids and other attempts at intimidation and censorship. The ruling party also vowed to “de-Sorosize” the NGO sector in the country, claiming that their agendas are influenced by foreign funding- specifically funding by George Soros, a Hungarian-American businessman and investor, whose name has become a synonym for “foreign spies” in the country.
Tensions have risen since the elections held in December 2016, when the ruling party was unable to form a government, and they have since been constantly attempting to prevent the opposition from doing the same. The growing number of attacks and verbal abuses against media workers coincide with statements given by the previous Prime Minister, in which he calls on the citizens to “protect their country”.
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.