Time: 10:39 p.m. CEST
Misunderstandings and disagreements continue in Skopje after dramatic developments in Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia on April 27, when protesters and people broke into the parliament and unknown people attacked the parliamentarians inside the press center. In the aftermath of the recent events that involves violence, anger and rioting inside the Parliament, political parties and officials exchange different opinions, repeating their view on developments. The most recent disagreement is whether the Parliament elected or not president of the Assembly, with opposite statements by both sides.
People broke into Parliament
Unidentified large number of people, some attending the protest for the unitary character of Republic of Macedonia on Thursday, entered first without force inside the building of the Assembly. Zoran Zaev closed his eyes when he saw on one of the two TV screens inside the room, a live broadcast on Macedonian Radio Television’s Parliamentarian Channel that people started to enter the Parliament. Not more than 40 minutes after, an unidentified group of people broke violently into the press center, where MP’s of SDSM and DUI previously explained their decision to vote for a new president of the Parliament, Talat Xhaferi.
MP of Besa, Zekirija Ibraimi, sang the national anthem of Albania from the podium and several Albanians of Macedonia members of the parliament, stand for this anthem from their seats in the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia. On his Facebook profile, MP Pavle Bogoevski announced voting of the President with 61 votes, in the plenary hall aisle. “From this moment, Talat Xhaferi is the new president of the Assembly of Republic of Macedonia. The majority decided with 61 votes ‘for,’ Bogoevski wrote on Facebook from the Parliament after he voted. Regardless, no official voting list was offered from the voting inside the aisle where opposition parliamentary seats are.
Outside, the news about voting in the Parliament was announced by Boris Damovski who request people to stay near the Parliament and protect the institution. About 30 riot police officers already deployed near the Parliament.
Inside the parliament, Zaev prepared to hold a news conference at the press room, when a video on the TV screens showed people entered the official entrance of the Parliament. Moments later, not more than 10 persons with masks or elderly entered the second floor of the Parliament, but where stopped by Assembly security. The doors of the Press Center remained close in the first attempt of people to break inside.
When people broke into the Press center of the Parliament, (see video) some confronted with Radmila Sekerinska, MP of SDSM who was trying to leave the press center with her high heels in one of her hands. But, an angered elderly person pull for her hair and pushed away toward tables. She left the press center with the help of Milan Ristovski, seen in the above picture beyond flying tripods, trying to reach and escort Sekerinska outside the troubled area. Outside press center, Artan Grubi of DUI, Stevo Pendarovski and Stefan Bogoev of SDSM left the room unharmed.
At the corner in the press center, Zaev remained, together with private security, Talat Xhaferi, Aleksandar Kiracovski, Damjan Mancevski, some of them covered with blood on their faces. As protesters sang patriotic songs, Zaev tried to give them time out signal, even though he was already with blood on his shirt. (see video)
What followed was chaotic scene inside the building of the Parliament, where angered people confronted with members of the Parliament and their security personnel. Some used chairs in the press center to thrown toward parliamentarians, and at some moment television tripods flown over the room. Screaming sounds arrived of all corners of the press center. On the gallery in the press center, parliamentarians Pavle Bogoevski, Ferid Muhik and others watched with unbelief the developments downstairs.
A group of angered people entered the gallery and tried to attack Bogoevski who was at the translation cabin in the gallery of the press center, over watched by persons that are not official security. At the same moment, a gun shot sound came from the press center, and people started to run and hide.
One of the parliament members, Zijadin Sela of the Alliance for Albanians, was covered with blood, and unidentified persons dragged him in one of the corridors inside the Parliament. (see video)
In the downstairs hall, police officers tried to stand on the front doors of Parliament, but at several points people broke into the Parliament, but remain on the entrance, on stairs and in the plenary hall “Macedonia,” without attempting to walk around the building.
On the second floor the situation remained tense in the next 40 minutes, when suddenly riot police officers used tear gas and sound grenades to confront people inside the second floor of the Parliament, where people clashed with police in the area in front of the press center.
Inside the plenary hall, people and representatives of the initiative for unitary character of the Republic of Macedonia, probably not yet aware of the dramatic and chaotic developments inside the press center, waved with the Macedonian state flags and sang songs. Police used stunt grenades to liberate the area and make a tampon zone between angered people and several members of the Parliament.
Later, riot police dispersed people and evacuated trapped parliamentarians.
Condemnation of violence
Early in the morning after the culmination of violence in part of the Assembly, Nikola Gruevski, president of VMRO-DPMNE condemned the violence. Next day, president of SDSM Zoran Zaev explained their view and promised choice of a new government.
Friday night, organizers of the initiative for unitary character of the Republic of Macedonia protested peacefully in front of the building of the Delegation of the European Union in Skopje a day after the biggest turbulence happen since the beginning of this protest. Even though, after yesterday’s unpleasant events, many considered that conflicts could continue, on peaceful protests, organizers condemn the violence, which broke in the Parliament.
“The violence is not our intention, and we should condemn it. Our goal is with persistence to re-take Macedonia,” Boris Damovski, one of the organizers announced in Skopje, after explaining the protesters gathered in front of European Union, which Ambassador three times visited and encouraged them in the Assembly to make a coup. Damovski referred to yesterday’s initiative of possible new parliamentary majority to choose new president of the Assembly.
Vlado Jovanovski who is supporting this initiative said that as a parent, as a father, as Macedonian, “I condemn the violence that occurred yesterday and I regret for all injured in yesterday’s event. It should never happen again.” Requesting mutual respect of the employees of the European Union, Bogdan Ilievski, one of the organizers said, “the violence is not the way, neither blood should fall for unreasonable people.
Our path is the way of dignity, love for Macedonia and we condemn violence.” Ilievski stated that, “we condemn attempts “for angering people, we condemn violence, but we condemn signing of foreign anthems in our Parliament. More than 100 people, including parliamentarians were injured yesterday when unidentified men, including people with masks, entered Assembly after SDMS and DUI voted in the middle of the plenary hall for Talat Xhaferi as a new president of the Assembly.
Representatives of the European Union, US Embassy in Skopje, and other international organizations expressed strong condemnation of violence that occurred inside the Parliament on Thursday. The dramatic events not only that provoke reactions among foreigners, they incite different reactions on social media.
The voting for the new president of the Parliament, now greeted by foreign diplomatic missions in the country, happened after 6:00 p.m. on Thursday when protesters and organizers of the initiative for unitary character of Macedonia arrived at their usual destination in front of the Assembly, where in the past 60 days they protested peacefully. Constant protests in various forms are happening in Macedonia since 2014.
Announcement of Tirana’s platform in January created more divisions into society and provoked president of the Republic of Macedonia, Gorgje Ivanov to refuse to give the mandate to Zaev, even though he delivered to the president 67 signatures for parliamentarian majority. Formation of government is still uncertain, because the issues of Tirana’s platform are not in the program of SDSM for the government, but Zaev announced discussion about issues with political representatives of Albanians.