Member of Parliament Gordana Siljanovska – Davkova, who was presidential candidate for VMRO-DPMNE at the 2019 elections, advised Prime Minister Zoran Zaev to talk to the people of Vevcani about the events of 1987, when the village was besieged by the police of then Communist Yugoslavia. The major incident that shocked the country and is widely seen as a totalitarian over-reach that helped bring down Yugoslavia, had a repeat of sorts yesterday, when riot police stormed Vevcani and prevented the holding of the age-old carnival.

In 1987 Vevcani began a revolt against the privileges of the Communist party, the predecessor to SDSM. The villages decided to stop the over-use of their famous springs, which had their waters diverted to supply the villas of Communist officials on Elen Kamen near Struga. In response, the unchecked Government besieged Vevcani with enormous police forces, who were even assaulting the women of Vevcani. The democratic public spoke out against the attack and in support of the brave people of Vevcani. Artists and scholars condemned their torture, Siljanovska said.

The police at the time even used electric batons, the news of which was carried by Western media outlets. Vevcani responded by declaring a mock independence from Yugoslavia and Macedonia, establishing the Republic of Vevcani and issuing its own passports and currency. While done mostly in jest, the message was received in the public. Disillusionment from the actions of the Communist party continued to grow and the attack was raised across Yugoslavia as evidence of the party going too far, and was one of the major incidents in the pre-break-up period.

The Vevcani carnival has continued to present the traditions of the region, with masks that date back to the pre-Christian era used to dispel evil, mixed with masks with political connotations. Until yesterday, that is, when the police of the Zaev regime used the pretext of coronavirus restrictions to break it up. The carnival takes place in the open, and most of the participants wore masks over their faces, not to mention the elaborate hand-made masks that are so distinctive of the carnival. “Is there no room in our country to preserve this immemorial tradition? Can’t we symbolically display our human defiance to Covid-19, using humor and expressing the spirit of liberty and defiance of Vevcani?”, Siljanovska asked the Zaev regime. Many other public figures spoke out yesterday and condemned the police attack on the carnival, also reminding the public of the 1987 siege.