Time: 1:01 p.m. CEST Update: 12:37 a.m. CEST
Photo, video and text by Aleksandra Dukovska
People gathered on the streets of Skopje on Monday to protest the rapid growing of the public debt, which according to the members of the opposition and citizens’ movements burdens the economy of the country and citizens. Peaceful protests aimed against the most recent decision by the current government in Skopje to issue a Eurobond, began at the offices of the Prosecution for the intercepted conversations content.
Protest march started with the banner against the issuing of the Eurobond in value of 650 million euros by the state institutions and with the message “Billion reason for the end,” written on Macedonian language. Later, during the warm summer night in Skopje with the temperatures of 34 C (92F), the protests turned confrontational with the riot police deployed at the street “Macedonia” and other side-street passages close after marchers decided to go toward the building of the Ministry of Finance of Republic of Macedonia.
Police vs. Citizens
The organizers, mostly members of the “Colorful Revolution” movement, prominent members of the opposition and residents of Skopje stood to their wish their voices to be heard. But, the already deployed police officers in a riot gear, lined up between the building passages in the downtown Skopje, made this task not an easy one for the protesters. At least, in the two hours when the “cat and mouse” game between protesters and riot police ended peacefully.
Shortly after the protesters arrived at the “Macedonia” street some of gathered activists decided to change the plans and headed to try to push through the police barricades in the closest passage toward the Ministry building. An activist and an educated police officer, which now belongs to the “Colorful Revolution” movement, Pavle Bogoevski was among those who headed toward police cordon and stood with his hands in the air face-to-face with someone who might have been his colleague by education or work. Almost instantly, people from “Macedonia” street shifted toward the police cordon.
“Yes, I was in the first raw, but my hands were all the time in the air. In one moment of pushing, the leaders of the Rapid Development Unit decided to detain me. Two of them started to push me inside the cordon. I did not allow them. In one moment 15 special police forces were dragging me, beating me and tried to push me on the ground,” claims Pavle Bogoevski in his Facebook post, I am using with his approval. According to Bogoevski, he was pushed beyond the cordon, Bogoevski responded in internet communication. In its Facebook post, Bogoevski said he would not report the case to the police unit for internal control at the Ministry of Interior.
I could not independently verify the development of the situation, but as some later pictures of Bogoevski show, his T-shirt was stretched when the scuffles with police ended.
The gathered crowd erupted briefly after a handful of confrontations with the police and the attempts to push through the secured police line. Among those who protested, considering the topic of the protest, were opposition party representatives, which participated shortly in the government, according to the Przino July 15, 2015 agreement. Kire Naumov, former director of Intelligence Agency and former deputy in the Ministry of Finance was in the front protest line together with the former SDSM’s minister for interior, Oliver Spasovski.
Paint on the building
As riot police officers arrived and re-grouped in the passage, tensions rise with protesters attempting to pass through the cordon, while some pushed with their hands on the police shields. Bogoevski, who was in the front line, was holding his hands up in the air. Then, police pushed the protesters and some in the scuffles ended with stretched T-shirt, small injuries on the shin. After the tense situation calmed down, the focus of the protest turned toward police, with people yelling “partisan police,” refereeing to the riot police officers and blaming them for the close relations with the ruling party.
The protest continued with throwing the paint balls toward the building of the Ministry of finance, where the deployed police in large numbers did not reacted toward the protesters, except when a girl tried to write on the back doors of the Ministry. The protests decreased after the protesters sang the national anthem with jubilant faces, they managed to reach the building of the Ministry, first time after the beginning of the most recent protests in Macedonia since April 12.