Sunday, 22 October 2017 | News today: 0

SEMM calls for restraint after Monday’s paint incident

The Council for Media Ethic of Macedonia (SEMM) strongly condemned any form of physical confrontation involving journalists and called for calm and restraint against provocations coming from any center of power, groups or individuals. The call comes after the incident on Monday, when journalist Branko Geroski and businessman and former media owner Ljupco Palevski challenged each other to a fist fight, ending with Palevski pouring paint on Geroski.

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“We are in for a rough period of political campaigning and tensions are high ahead of the local elections. SEMM calls on highest responsibility from all who have offices in the public sector. SEMM also appeals to the media to adopt a more serious approach in their reporting, to focus on their educational role, to enrich the public discourse and not lower the level of public communication”, SEMM said in the first press release following the incident.

Geroski, who manages the Plusinfo news site and writes for the Sloboden Pecat newspaper, got into a Facebook argument with Palevski, a businessman who led the SDSM branch in Skopje’s Centar district and published a number of magazines. Geroski, whose news site supports the current SDSM leadership and Government, and Palevski, who is critical of the Government, set a fist fight at noon on Monday in front of the Manda cafe in down-town Skopje, popular with other SDSM affiliated journalists.

Dozens of press crews arrived at the site and social media were buzzing over the upcoming fight for days. When Geroski came, Palevski walked out of the cafe and asked him to apologize for the insults he made at him on Facebook. When Geroski refused, Palevski poured yellow and red paint on his head.

“This is your colored revolution”, Palevski said, referring to the 2015-2016 protests of SDSM supporters and NGO groups during which protesters were throwing paint on monuments in Skopje. Geroski supported these protests, while Palevski is calling out for the creation of a new political party and has criticized both the current SDSM leadership and the main opposition VMRO-DPMNE party. Palevski added that it is good to see Geroski in the colors of the national flag, which were adopted instead by the opponents of the “colored revolution”. Geroski continued to ask Palevski to make good on his threat to fight him, but Palevski walked away, saying “I’m finished with you”.

Afterwards, Palevski said that he expected that Geroski will use the incident as a provocation to have him arrested, with police units standing by. Geroski acknowledged being in touch with the Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski over the incident and hinted that he has reported it to the Special Prosecutor’s Office as well, which recently questioned Palevski, reportedly over his alleged role in distributing some of the wiretaps which the SDSM party has obtained from insiders in the UBK police service and was publishing since early 2015.