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news 28 Apr 17

Well-Known Newspapers Face Closure in Macedonia

Dozens of journalists could be left jobless if - as expected - managers pull the plug on some of Macedonia's best-known newspapers this weekend.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

After more than a decade-and-a-half of existence, two of Macedonia's best-known dailies, Utrinski Vesnik and Vest, face closure this weekend, possibly leaving more than 50 journalists out of work.

Skopje's Basic Court 2 on Thursday opened a pre-bankruptcy procedure for Graficki Centar DOO, the owner of Media Print Macedonia, MPM, which publishes the three newspapers Dnevnik, Utrinski Vesnik and Vest.

The court should rule on whether to open bankruptcy procedures on May 10. Until then, it has issued a ban on use of the company's property, which will be managed by a bankruptcy trustee.

The closure of Utrinski Vesnik was announced on Wednesday, when the head of the newspaper union, Ljubisa Stankovic, announced the shock news on Facebook.

"After 18 years, thanks to the bad management of [current owner] Srgjan Kerim, Utrinski Vesnik will cease to exist on Saturday. We should remember the name of the person who will bury the newspaper," Stankovic wrote.

MPM's management has declined to clarify what is going on with the dailies. The secretary of MPM head Srgjan Kerim told BIRN on Thursday that he did not know when he will be available to comment either.

Journalists at the dailies, who are on strike already, demanding payment of overdue wages, have sought an explanation from the management, fearing that the same fate awaits Vest as well.

Fears that something strange was going on increased after a firm with a similar name to MPM, Media Print DOOEL, was registered and is now hiring journalists and editors.

The new firm is owned by Aleksandar Dinev, who until recently was part of MPM's management.

Journalists suspect the new firm was opened as part of a managerial plan to close Utrinski Vesnik and Vest - and re-hire a small portion of the current staff who would continue publishing the same brands but only in electronic form.

The Independent Journalists Union of Macedonia, SSNM, said the changes could potentially leave more than 50 journalists without job.

The three dailies were once part of Germany’s WAZ Media Group, and held a considerable share of the newspaper market in Macedonia.

According to unconfirmed reports, only Dnevnik, which was Macedonia's first private daily newspaper, may survive the current turbulence.

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