The Macedonian Association of Journalists (MAN) strongly condemned the move by the ruling SDSM party to demand a criminal investigation into the main critical media outlets in the country. SDSM spokeswoman Bogdanka Kuzeska accused Alfa TV and the news sites Kurir, Netpress and Lider of being funded by Hungarian companies.

MAN calls on the embassies of the United States, EU, Germany and Hungary, who were called out by SDSM, to speak out on this attempt by the ruling party to attack media outlets who are not under SDSM control.

SDSM uses an anonymous news site from Slovenia to accuse Alfa TV, Kurir, Netpress and Lider of receiving commercial contracts which SDSM labels as suspicious, anti-NATO and hostile to this party and wants to use the prosecutors, who are under SDSM control, to shut down these media outlets. This is how hard core Stalinists talk, MAN said in its press release.

The association of journalists notes that SDSM party leader Zoran Zaev recently acknowledged that he was funding the 1TV television, which was involved in extortion.

Zaev even mentions the Bitola based businessman Siljan Micevski, who was pressured to pay 850.000 EUR to 1TV owner Boki 13, a criminal case which is now being tried. These are actual dirty money which the SDSM party uses to fund media outlets. Media outlets which SDSM considers their own have received funding from Hungarian billionaire George Soros for decades, with no commercial basis, on purely political grounds, MAN adds. The SDSM affiliated “Sloboden Pecat newspaper received 600.000 EUR in Government ads and 280.000 EUR in printing assistance, along with hundreds of thousands of euros from the Innovation Fund. Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias resigned ver allegations that black funds from his MFA were used to pay off Macedonian media outlets that would support the name change referendum”, the association adds.

The Macedonian Association of Journalists reminds the public that Hungary is an EU and NATO member state and says that Macedonia will have to explain to Hungarian authorities how is it that that country is working against EU and NATO while being their member. MAN goes on to detail other assaults on the media in Macedonia under SDSM, such as the removal of the editors in chief from the four biggest news outlets.

Over the past three years SDSM has worked hard to turn Macedonia into a hybrid regime. The worsening media climate is endangering the opening of EU accession talks, given the reports of political and judicial persecution of the media, MAN writes in its press release.