Tuesday, December 28, 2010
THE LOBOTOMY OF LIBERTY IN FYROM: THE CASE OF DESTRUCTION OF ANTI-GRUEVISTIC A1 TV THROUGH MASS ARREST OF ITS JOURNALISTS
Nikola Gruevski, the Prime Minister of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) demonstrated, encouraged by absence of proper, tough approach from legitimate factors that represent values of European civilization, by far the most extreme form of his crackdown of opposition, exacerbating his stamina and reputation of FYROM's autocratic tyrant.
This time, this manifestation of Gruevski's totalitarianism, exercised through the FYROMian political party VMRO-DPMNE, in particular by the Special Security Agencies led by his first cousin Sašo Mijalkov, came through blitz storming of A1 Television House in Skoplje by dozens of members of “Alfa”'s (24/7 patrolling/monitoring secret, plain-clothed police strike-force constituted on basis of VMRO-DPMNE party affiliation). The event of the transition ofrom 23th to 24th of December 2010, inwhich disproportional force was used in relation to what police was technically able toknow regarding the assessment of situation, together with subsequent video presentation* by pro-VMRO channels (KANAL 5 TV and more pronouncedly, SITEL TV), constitute the gravest act of.....
violation of civil society, free speech and freedom of information and likely the most massive assault on journalist profession (in which no justification calling legitimacy, let alone legality of it may be used).
*(The several variants of the blitz inroad into the building consist mostly of compiled CCTV footage and police-filmed video. In best style of fear-inducing usage of cinematographic approaches, effects, and sound background as well. Among these are manipulation with hue, color, usage of atonal music with trumpeting strings [on some compilations; most were mute, as CCTV seldom records sound], video-sequences speed slowing or fasting.).
Velija Ramkovski, a senior businessmen, father and grandfather with no prior criminal history and a pioneer of free-market capitalism under the new circumstances from 1989- 1992 and founder of A1 TV (the first private-owned Television station in FYROM) was exposed to a smear campaign. He was assaulted by government officials and pro-VMRO media outlets as 'guilty of financial fraud schemes'. Prior to the latest rapid-paced set of events, A1 TV was stormed by about hundred members of uniformed police which found 'evidence' (using very naïve, deja vu tricks) of cash-deposits within the Station's building, followed with near complete confiscation of PC's, as well as packages of conventional and electronic data-storage materials, including even parts of broadcasting equipment. This left A1 TV staff to improvise in subsequent days in order to sustain broadcasting of its otherwise huge popular program scheme.
This initial storming happened with blockade of c. 1-3 km perimeter of the A1 TV building by multilayered police and security agencies operatives which did not stopped spontaneous, but energetic gathering of over one thousand citizens and eventual low-level conflict of outside-stationed citizenry against police. This was in sharp contrast with brutalization of several technical personal, one unarmed member of A1 TV security (who only tried to ask the approaching policeman about their presence – his bulling outside the TV station compound was filmed). Already the imprint on mentality and informational war by the Gruevski's regime against the last fortress of Free Speech as delivered by means of Television technology.
In case of Free Speech A1 TV as a philosophical concept has its rich praxis through news, commentaries, moderated debates, interviews, open to all sides in discourse (in what, from perspective of most recent events seems like a conceptual illusion that such 'nice'- styled approach, in spirit of civilized dialogue, is the best, indeed only approach towards exploration of very heavy political and other problems within FYROM). No other TV channel has anti-Pseudomacedonian line of approach coupled with granting possibility to discourse to all sides.
Late evening, 23-XII-2010, Velija Ramkovski was within the premises of A1 TV in a home-like atmosphere meeting with several friends, among which was Fijat Canovski, Parliamentary Deputy, businessman and founder of multiple high education and charity programs. According to his testimony given to KANAL 5, the speed of the thundering action and the appearance of civilian, casual clothes persons of powerful physique (no markings, no verbal declaration) caused disturbing thought that criminal act of kidnapping was underway. When minutes later he was suspect that mass police arrest was underway, his call to his legal immunity and knowledge of function of legal procedures fell on deaf ears. Ramkovski and perhaps as much as 30 persons, mostly journalists, including TV station's Director (CEO) Mrs. Aneta Kočiški were rounded up in the overkill display of “VMRO might” and took in a synchronized way in an unknown to observers direction by “ALFA” secret police. An unaccounted number (preliminary knowledge of the authors indicates that this includes most of those captives by the regime) stayed in “Avtokomanda” Police Station (nicknamed by the Skoplje urban quarter of the same name). Early morning, Ramkovski and about 20 other people were brought by Special Forces of FYROMian Ministry of Interior, led formally by Mrs. Gordana Jankulovska, early 30s non-competent party apparatchik, but de facto under synergistic and complementary command of UDBK (FYROMian Clandestine State Security Agency, led by Sašo Mijalkov, first cousin of Nikola Gruevski) and CIA forces, which have their permanent offices in main quarters of MOI of FYROM since the “Republic's” nominal “independence” (by Government’s recognition couple of years back). In the context of the later information, it is noteworthy that A1 led a very strong Slavophilic campaign in fields of documentary programs, news programs, interviews with otherwise shunned by officials and other media Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Polish and other diplomats, artist, scholars and other prominent figures.
It is known that Ramkovski, obviously slightly exhausted and weakened, but still in uplifted, defiant, clear-consciousness state of mind, as evident by his strong, brief and effective statements, was publicly seen the next morning during media-recorded entrance under “megaloparanoic”escort of heavily-armed Special Police Forces into the Primary Court One (Osnoven Sud I.).
More mind-boggling was equally heavy approach to the escort of mostly young female journalists, benefiting adequately a physically powerful, skillful and dangerous violent criminal. In this case the VMRO visual addition to the Rule of Fear was more than obvious. This set of fast-paced events, tragically unnoticed even by Balkan media as well by International NGO which enjoy reputations as defenders of Free Speech and Empowerment of Media Professionalism and General Independence (with liberty of advocacy journalism left unchallenged) failed to react. This destruction of A1 TV on organizational (arrest of the owner, CEO), human professional factor (two dozens of journalist) through deprivation of liberty, confiscation of data and inflicting infrastructural damage, humiliation and derogation, warming-up of negative preposition by far more superior in terms of quantity and coverage power (but is its so when it comes to ethics and professionalism extended from it?) pro-VMRO media, led by Dragan Pavlović - Latas and Governmental spokesman, most prominent of which is Ivo Kotevski).
In relation to damage to the Principles of Civilization, abstract and immanent as they are, many potential questions are raised from universal importance. Those, some of which shall stay either unanswered, or within the discursive domain, are better left as such. But that the very Principles are brazenly violated in a manner and to a level below the Law of the Jungle, it is plainly obvious.
With regard to public in FYROM, its Slavs and other citizens: the illusion secured by liberty-protective declaration sanctified by certain Constitutional, multiple legal and sub-legal acts is destroyed. All this exposed above shows that Gruevism is, indeed, expanded Machiavellian theory by this Chief of gang know since 1893 for numerous gruesome acts of unimaginable to every decent person ferocity against non-Bugari, sparing no ideological and symbolic camouflage (the latest being anti-Slavic and anti-Greek, anti-historical Pseudomacedonian which defiles 280.000.000 Slavs and 15.000.000 Greeks (3.000.000 of which are the genuine Macedonians). The internal struggle switched from assaults ad hominem against individual activists (“perverts”, “psychopaths”, “petty criminals”), NGO (“stooges of “foreigners”, spies, moles), mainstream parties, SDSM in particular, but also some right-wing parties (similar, only with more 'elaborate' accusations, fortified in propagandist Ecstasy by accusation that, should opposition ever gain power, it will “sell the country, politically and economically to Greeks and Serbs”). Most of these assaults were devastated by arguments. The message: “behold, you, man of common means, what VMRO can do to you if you disobey, if we can do this to wealthy Ramkovski and his large media house in a snap of a fingers, in front of all Europe, without any consequences for us”.
But the uttermost and crucial act of perfidy by VMRO “Makedonoidi” party is in this latest, high-intensity war on free media, out of which A1 stood as the highest Tower of Truth and was a moral and practical consolidator of other types of media (printed political magazines, etc). It was only perversely logical that VMRO will by liquidating A1, first clear an obstacle embodied it in as a good for its Pan-Pseudomacedonian/subliminally Pan-Bulgarian interests. As a secondary shock-wave, the strike of confusion, media blackout (by cutting individual and organized opponents from an access to single (out of many) TV Houses which was unconditionally anti-Gruevistic, having its goal imprint and instilling of fear, escalation of conformism and resignation as well as social apathy are mid-to-long term damage which is yet to be assessed, in light of the fact that the situation is still ongoing, though the main battle looks won by Gruevski's version of “Makedonoid” national-totalitarianism.
Never before has the regime of Gruevski displayed such brutality. Whether the XXI century, on the eve on the incoming New Year is 1917, 1933, 1938, 1989 or 1991 for FYROM, future shall show, a future build by Slavs of FYROM, who will have to fight to keep their authenticity in contemporary political, legal, factual (including economical and geopolitical) as well as cultural context. But the battle lost in despairing thoughts, is a war lost in real life in all of its outward manifestations.
May the civilized people know about this Coup Against Liberty.
[The author is a Skoplje-residing Serbian political activist]