The Interior Ministry still hasn’t reported official details from the heavy-handed intervention of the riot police in Vevcani yesterday. Participants in the ages old Vevcani carnival, held every year on the feast of St. Basil, were dispersed by the police which came out in force.

Some citizens of Vevcani and participants in the carnival, which traditionally lampoons political events, have said they were detained.

Eyewitnesses say they saw people dragged into police vans, but the Interior Ministry did not reveal an exact number of those arrested, or an explanation for this type of intervention, which drew back paraleles with a similar siege of the free-spirited village during Communist times.

When the government censors criticism and a tradition that has been held for thousands of years, and does not prevent a birthday, for example, in the government itself. When the government itself organizes elections in Stip and Plasnica, and forbids the people to organize a carnival because it is a criticism of the Government. When the police, instead of criminals, are forced to go after their own people…, said opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski.

The carnival takes place in the open and the participants are masked by default. Footage showed that most of the viewers who came to observe the traditional event were also wearing face masks. The police ignores other public gatherings, especially those involving officials from the ruling SDSM party, who staged uncontested municipal elections in Stip last month and then celebrated, without masks, in a bar they opened past curfew.