A deeper dive into Hristijan Pendikov, the Bulgarian activist from Ohrid who was badly beaten last week in an incident that caused tensions between Macedonia and Bulgaria reveals that the young man went through a political journey.

Several years ago, Pendikov was coming from a very different political position – he was a supporter of VMRO-DPMNE, seen waving flags at rallies of the party, and was promoting strong pro-Macedonian positions online. In just a few years, he went from a proud Macedonian to a supporter of Bulgarian nationalist politicians who denounce the very existence of the Macedonian nation.

I don’t even have a Macedonian passport, and I don’t even want to think about getting a Bulgarian passport, he said in a dispute on Facebook, when he was accused of having dual citizenship. Further in the same exchange, he claimed that Pirin Macedonia is not Bulgarian – another position that would not sit well with his newly found crowd. Further still, he argued with people online who claimed that VMRO leader Nikola Karev was a Bulgarian – “he is a great Macedonian”, Pendikov said.

Pendikov was recently named secretary of the Tsar Boris III club, that Bulgarian activists opened in Ohrid. The club faced protests by the citizens of Ohrid, organized among others by VMRO-DPMNE, and was attacked several times by people throwing rocks and even firing at it. The main issue is the denial of the Macedonian nation by club activists, but also its name – Tsar Boris III ruled over Bulgaria during the Second World War, occupied Macedonia, allied Bulgaria with the Axis and authorized the perpetrating of the Holocaust in Macedonia.