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RFE/RL Demands Investigation, Safety For Macedonia Journalists

Protesters Storm Macedonian Parliament
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RFE/RL Balkan Service video of protesters storming the Macedonian Parliament, April 27, 2017.

WASHINGTON -- RFE/RL is calling for a thorough investigation after a reporter for its Macedonian unit was attacked by a group of protesters inside the country’s parliament building in the capital, Skopje, on April 28.

Zorana Gadzovska Spasovska was in the parliament when angry protesters, some wearing black masks, rampaged through the building following a controversial decision to appoint Talat Xhaferi, an ethnic Albanian, as speaker of parliament. Her assailant, who hit her and broke her equipment, has been identified as a government employee.

Two other RFE/RL journalists, reporter Frosina Dimeska and cameraman Goran Stefanovic, were in the building's press room at the time. They were unable to leave because of the crush of protesters outside, who sought to break down the door.

RFE/RL President Thomas Kent has called on authorities to conduct a swift and thorough investigation of the attack "to ensure that violence against journalists is not perpetrated with impunity, and that all members of the press are able to do their jobs in safety.”

RFE/RL's Balkan Service reports that more than 80 persons were injured during the stampede, including 22 police officers, as clashes between police and protesters spilled onto the streets outside the parliament building.

The U.S. Embassy in Skopje condemned the violence "in the strongest terms," and EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini called it “particularly worrying and very sad.”

Created during the Balkan Wars in 1994, RFE/RL’s Balkan Service has been a courageous and consistent voice promoting tolerance, peace and reconciliation in a region riven by ethnic and sectarian divisions. Reporting in the Albanian, Macedonian, Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian languages, the Balkan Service reached more than 13 percent of Macedonians in FY2016 with its mix of radio, television, and digital content.