Macedonian journalist calls for violence against foreign correspondent

A Macedonian journalist incited violence against Valerie Hopkins, a Financial Times correspondent who was in the country during the "name referendum". Unsurprisingly, the repercussions were only symbolic.

Lidija Pisker
Lidija Pisker NewsMavens, Balkans
Macedonian journalist calls for violence against foreign correspondent - NewsMavens
Twitter, Pexels

Why this story matters:

In what he probably thinks was a witty post, Macedonian journalist Cvetin Cilimanov invited taxi drivers to use violence if they happened to meet The Financial Times' correspondent Valerie Hopkins. 

Responding to Hopkins -- who pointed out she would never encourage violence, regardless of possible disagreements -- Cilimanov said that "civility had left this place long time ago." 

And he's damn right about that. 

There's no courtesy in the country (and the region) if harassment of women is commonplace and their rights are being brutally violated.

So please, OSCE representatives and government officials, spare us your pointless press releases and "expressions of concerns" and finally do something to protect reporters, women reporters and their rights and freedoms.

Details from the story:

  • Valerie Hopkins, who is currently working as Balkan correspondent of The Financial Times, was in Skopje covering Macedonian "name referendum" held on 30 September 2018. 
  • Cvetin Cilimanov is Macedonian journalist working for the state news agency MIA. He is also a deputy head of the Macedonian Journalists Association. He is often criticizing the involvement of Western countries in Macedonia on his Twitter account.
  • On October 2, Cilimanov tweeted: "To all taxi drivers following me, if this one gets in your car -- it’s time for Uncle Kumplung," inserting a link to Hopkins' Twitter profile into the tweet. Čičko Kumplung is a character of 1996 Macedonian movie "Suicide Guide" ('Samouništuvanje') portraying an aggressive cab driver. 
  • Macedonian government condemned Cilimanov's tweet as "shameful and unacceptable." 
  • In a statement, the government said there is no tolerance for any threats, and attempts to threaten freedom of speech and expression.
  • Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov has apologized to Hopkins saying "this is not what Macedonia stands for."
  • The Macedonian Information Agency (MIA) issued a press release distancing itself from the tweet posted by Cilimanov. 
  • The tweet was also condemned by the OSCE Media Representative, Harlem Desir. Desir wrote on Twitter that "Cvetin must immediately remove his tweet."
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