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VOA Macedonian Stringer Receives Death Threat

Amernis Jovanovski with funeral wreath sent to her husband, VOA reporter Borjan Jovanovski
Amernis Jovanovski with funeral wreath sent to her husband, VOA reporter Borjan Jovanovski

On April 21, a man delivered a funeral wreath to the home of a stringer for VOA’s Macedonian Service, Borjan Jovanovski. Jovanovski wasn’t home at the time so the man handed the wreath to Jovanovski’s wife and told her: “This is the last goodbye for Borjan from Todor Aleksandrov.”

Though he died in 1924, Aleksandrov’s name is still well known in Macedonia. A fervent Macedonian nationalist, he was a top official in a terrorist group that assassinated the Bulgarian prime minister in the early 1920s. Another reason for his present fame is that Aleksandrov’s name is frequently honored by the government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

Borjan Jovanovski, however, gets very different treatment from the government. He blames the latest incident on those who call for violence against everyone considered an opponent of the government.” But others, inside and outside Macedonia, have rallied to Jovanovski’s defense.

A group of Macedonian journalists demonstrated Wednesday in Skopje, the capital, to voice their support for him. The International Federation of Journalists and the European Federation of journalists have condemned the incident and urged the Macedonian authorities to prosecute the perpetrators. And the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has issued a statement calling for a thorough investigation of the death threats to journalists in Macedonia.

Jovanovski, in addition to reporting for VOA, is an editor with the Macedonian Internet portal Nova TV. His long career includes engagements as a news editor for the now defunct A1 TV. The station, a former VOA affiliate, was once the most popular TV network in Macedonia, but was closed by the government over allegations of tax evasion by the station’s owner.