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Low Turnout at Macedonian Protest in Skopje

May 13, 2012

About hundred young Macedonian hooligans gathered in front of the government in Skopje on Saturday, to protest against large rallies held on Friday by ethnic Albanians.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Balkan Insight, 12.05.2012


Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Initially announced on social networks and supported by thousands on facebook and tweeter, only few came to keep company to the police that was on alert in the entire capital.

With extended arms in a form of a Nazi salute the crowd was shouting “[ethnically] Clean Macedonia”.

Although the protest was announced to be in support of the police arrests of suspects wanted in connection to the recent killings in Skopje, the crowd immediately directed its rage towards the police officers, shouting “Shiptar [derogatory word for Albanian] police”.

After few from the crowd attempted to attack one photographer, the reporters who were repeatedly threaten not to film the rally, left the site.

On Friday and Saturday the police was on high alert across the country after both Albanians and Macedonians used social networks to organise parallel protests.

On Friday, some 10,000 Albanians protested against the recent police arrests of suspects. Smaller rallies took place in other towns as well. The gatherings were marred by vandalism but did not result in major incidents.

On April 12 the bodies of Filip Slavkovski, Aleksandar Nakjevski, Cvetanco Acevski and Kire Trickovski, all aged between 18 and 20, were discovered on April 12 near Zelezarsko Ezero on the northern outskirts of the capital, a popular fishing destination.  The body of 45-year-old Borce Stevkovski was a short distance away from the rest.

The murder sharply raised ethnic tensions between Macedonians and country’s largest Albanian minority, as rumours spread that the killers were Albanian.

Police on May 1 arrested 20 ethnic Albanians in an operation in several villages around the capital in relation to the murders. The police filed terrorism and murder charges against five people, three of whom have been arrested.

However, many in the country were left far from convinced in the police story that the arrested were Islamic Radicals and terrorists. Many suspect that the police might be framing innocent people just to calm the tension.

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