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Attack on the Freedom of the Press in FYROM

March 17, 2012

By Stavros Tzimas, Kathimerini, 17.03.2012

[Translated from Greek]

As long as his all-powerful media empire supported Nikola Gruevski, no one dared touch the Media Baron of Skopje, Velija Ramkovski. But when he started criticising the policies of the government, Gruesvski was without mercy: continued economic controls, heavy fines, seizure of riches, closing of the TV station A1, that had the highest viewing ratings in the country as well as three newspapers!

The demonstrations in the interior and the international outcry against the gagging of the Freedom of the Press did not deter the Slavomacedonian leader. Thus, at the beginning of the week, he sent Ramkovski himself to prison for 13 years, along with his family! Now, all that is left to “annoy” him are two newspapers of limited circulation and a TV station of limited coverage. All the other printed or electronic media have either been forced to fall into step with his choices or have been bought by people close to him!

Non-loyalist journalism in FYROM has become a synonym to professional destruction. Critical approach to Gruevski’s politics automatically places its authors into the category of those who act against the national interests. The journalists Borijan Jovanovski, Bilijana Sekoulovska and Branko Gerovski saw their names featured duing the Carnival on a funeral announcement on a coffin wrapped in a Greek flag. They were presented during the carnival festivities in the town of Vevcani, in the presence of the Minister of Culture (!), in the role of the mourning relatives of the deceased – because of the mortal hit from the Hague Tribunal, that partially justified Skopje on the question of the Inerim Agreement – Greece. Jovanovski, Sekoulovska and Geroski have been classed by the Gruevski system, in the category of the “cryptogreeks” or the “agents of Soros” and thus are considered as acting against National interests.

The journalists are separated into “traitors” and “patriots”, with the first being hunted and excluded from national media or from those controlled by Gruevski. But there is something even more dangerous: public humiliation and “burning at the stake”.

The Organisation “Journalists with no Borders degraded FYROM from the 34th to the 94th position, the State Department and OSCE have called the situation worrying while the progress report that the EU compiles each year is especially negative on the issue of Freedom of the Press.

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