Branko Geroski, a journalist long supportive of Zoran Zaev’s regime who has recently fired after criticising the Government, claims that a large pro-Government media outlet is using its political clout to racketeer business owners.

In a lengthy article published in his Plusinfo news site, Geroski details what he says was a recent meeting between SDSM party officials and a media mogul with a small hotel owner in a tourist resort in Macedonia. Geroski says that the event was described to him in detail by a person he trusts. He refuses to use the actual names of the participants, but the media outlet owner, whihc Geroski names “Koki”, is easily distinguishable by the readers.

Geroski claims that the group containing several local political figures from the tourist resort as well as national party officials – clearly placed on the Government’s side – along with the media outlet owner and his editor in chief were trying to extract money from a small hotel owner, who Geroski describes as “Trpe”.

Look Trpe, this is an election year and we need media support. This here is the owner of a media outlet who we need to support financially. It would be good if you would sign an annual ad contract. Media are expensive. This media outlet is ours and tomorrow it could help you out if you find yourself in trouble, one of the political officials is described by Geroski as pressuring the small hotel owner.

Geroski goes on to describe an incident, which erupted when “Trpe” the hotel owner offered to pay between 4 and 5 thousand euros annually to the media outlet.

What? – a screechy voice was heard – Are you joking? I’m not even discussing anything under 200.000 EUR!, Geroski describes the response from “Koki”, the media outlet owner, to what he saw as a low offer.

According to the account of the event which Geroski presents, the small hotel owner, “Trpe”, fell ill after hearing the sum of money he is asked to provide, and eventually fainted. After regaining his consciousness, “Trpe” explained that he has nothing close to such money in annual revenue, let alone profits, and offered to sign off his hotel to the political leaders and retire from the business, rather than be forced to pay such exorbitant sums of money.

The offer, Geroski claims, was met with silence and eventually rejected by the political racketeers, including “Koki”.

“Trpe” avoided paying. Maybe he required a stent or two, but he didn’t pay because he couldn’t pay. But many others are paying. Some pay 50, others 100 thousand euros, others even more. We keep hearing new names and huge figures. The entire city knows about this, Geroski adds, in the article which is a direct description by a recent SDSM party media supporter, of a political – media network used to racketeer money across the country.