Zoran Zaev’s “transparency minister” Robert Popovski asked the press to leave the meeting held today to prepare the new regulation aimed against media outlets which the Government declares as “fake news”.

The press was invited at the opening of the gala event, which also included President Stevo Pendarovski and Speaker Talat Xhaferi, but the journalists were not allowed to ask questions. As soon as the introductory remarks were over, Popovski asked the journalists to leave.

Zaev, who in his career threatened to “eat alive” his political opponents, declared media outlets as his enemies and published wiretaps which were later proven to be edited and manipulated, waxed about the need to avoid “denigrating persons” or “creating conflicts” by the reporting of journalists.

We need to distinguish between lies and constructive criticism which helps us in our work, Zaev said in his opening remarks.

Associations of journalists were overwhelmingly critical of the proposal to introduce such “fake news” regulation, believing that it will be abused by the Government to silence critical reporting. Calls from Government supporters to curb free speech have multiplied as Zaev and his associates are faced with an ever growing list of corruption scandals.