The police and state prosecutors announced today that they will begin criminal prosecution against supporters of the Vardar handball club which they deem used hate speech during the celebration of Vardar’s second title.
The Zaev regime faced a mass act of open defiance, as an estimated 100.000 people gathered in downtown Skopje on Monday evening and chanted “Never North, Always Macedonia”, rejecting his attempts to impose a name change on the country. Vardar captain Stojance Stoilov also stared down Zaev’s coercive state apparatus as he corrected a host at the post-game press conference who used the name “North Macedonia”.
My country is the Republic of Macedonia, Stoilov replied, in a move which instantly became iconic across the country.
Faced with an awakening sense of defiance, Zaev turned to his go-to approach – persecution. Media outlets close to his Government insist that handball fans were using hate speech during the celebration, and Zaev himself has long accused Vardar and its fans of opposing his push to rename and redefine Macedonia.
Prosecutors will follow up on all information and will act upon leads from the Interior Ministry, which will be identifying persons who perpetrated such crimes, the OJO state prosecutor’s office said today.
Zaev tried to paint the growing number of critics of his regime as “nationalist” during a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday, in front of Jean Claude Juncker and Johannes Hahn, a move which was also received extremely negatively in Macedonia.
Meanwhile, given the dependence of Zaev’s Government on ethnic Albanian votes and the Albanian parties represented in the Parliament, prosecutors and the police completely ignore incidents such as the attack on a cafe patroned by ethnic Macedonians in Tetovo in November 2018. The attack was perpetrated by ethnic Albanian hooligans associated with Shkendija, a football club from Tetovo, who were recently rewarded by the Albanian party ran Culture Ministry with financial aid, portraying the often violent group as a “cultural landmark” of Tetovo.
Groups such as Shkendija’s Ballisti, named after a Nazi supporting paramilitary organization in the Second World War frequently employ insulting and threatening chants such as “dead infidel – good infidel” and call for the partition of Macedonia in favor of Albania.