News 14 Nov 11

Macedonia To Lustrate Journalists and Clergy

Macedonian journalists and clergy are next in line for the controversial process of lustration aimed at purging former police informants from public office.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Skopje

Originally, journalists were not part of the lustration | Photo by: Balkan Insight

Starting in December, journalists and clerics will have a month time to submit statements to the country's Lustration Commission, declaring whether or not they once collaborated with the former secret police.

The Commission is tasked with checking their claims and pronouncing on who has been telling the truth. Those found to have been former spies will lose the right to hold public office.

Journalists and clergy originally were excluded from the terms of the 2008 Lustration Law, but in March the ruling parties led by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski changed the law, widening the span to cover journalists, university professors, lawyers and clergy.

The time span was also widened and now not only covers the period from 1945 to 1990, when Macedonia was part of the Communist-run Yugoslav federation but extends to recent times.

Even part-time employees in state-owned and private media will have to submit statements.

“We will make no exceptions because the law applies to everyone,” the head of the Commission, Tome Adziev said, concerning the altered provisions.

Adziev said employees in the state-owned Macedonian Radio and Television had already submitted statements that are currently being probed.

But controversy over the entire lustration process continues.

Gruevski’s centre-right VMRO DPMNE party insists that it is following the established practice of many former Communist countries and that they want only to rectify past injustices, when many people were tried and jailed based on information from police informants.

But the opposition Social Democrats, heirs to the old Communist party, and some intellectuals say the process has turned in to a tool, targeting opponents of the government.

The Commission so far says it has uncovered around 20 former collaborators whose identity it is obliged to hide.

However, some people declared as former collaborators have come out in public, claiming they were being politically lynched.
 
The former head of the Constitutional Court, Trendafil Ivanovski, and the theatre director and head of the Open Society Institute Macedonia, Vladimir Milcin, were among those who said they had been named as former police spies.

Denying the claims, they accused the authorities of taking revenge on them for their past stands that often were contrary to government policy.

The Commission said it had found one former journalist to be a former spy. However, he gave his statement in his capacity as a former ambassador. His name has not been revealed.

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