Protests for minimum wage, Ukraine staged
Towards the end of March 2022, the Basic Civil Court ruled that the initiative ‘From us to us’ committed defamation against the Association for Health Education (HERA). The initiative, which focuses on the protection of traditional family values and was one of the most ardently outspoken during the promotion of the concept of comprehensive sexual education, was found to actively misinform and attempt to destroy the reputation of the veteran HERA association, which advocates for the protection and promotion of the sexual health and reproductive rights of citizens, especially marginalised groups.
On 24th March 2022, at a press conference held in front of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia, the Council for Cooperation asked for a review of the budget in order to reserve funds for the implementation of the 2022 Draft Programme of the General Secretariat of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia for Financing the Programme Activities of the Associations and Foundations. This conference comes after the government abandoned its previous good practice of consultations with the Council and CSOs, which is against its standards declared in the Work Programme of the Government for 2022-2024, in particular providing a favourable work environment for civil society and reforming state financing for CSOs, stated the Council.
At the beginning of March 2022, several peaceful gatherings were held in Skopje against the Russian aggression against Ukraine and in solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
There were one hundred participants at а gathering in support of Russia, which was held in front of the Russian embassy in Skopje, organised by the political party "Rodina Macedonia". The participants emphasised that they supported Russia and the Russian people and they expressed their support for Putin and his policies, adding that the invasion was not a military coup but a justified denazification and demilitarisation of the Ukrainian state. All rallies passed without notable incidents, violence and/or excessive use of force by the police.
Farmers from all sectors expressed dissatisfaction through protests with the purchase prices offered by the state. Cabbage growers from Strumica held a one-hour blockade in the city centre, asking the local and central authorities to improve the conditions according to their mandates. During a press conference by the president of the Commission for Agriculture from VMRO-DPMNE, it was alleged that the Ministry of Internal Affairs is placing pressure on farmers who protested to express their concerns against the inability of the government to ensure the placement of their agricultural products.
Environmental rights protests were also staged during the period. Residents of Skopje's Vlae neighborhood held a meeting in the local park to voice their concerns about the new Detailed Urban Plan (DUP) being carried out in their part of the city. They demand that the DUP in their neighborhood be modified and that there will be space for more greenery and conditions for humane living.
On 20th March 2022, presidents of villages below Belasitsa, a mountain, held a peaceful protest and blockade of the regional road in the village of Koleshino, demanding a stop to wild logging, which they say threatens the security of the villages and the quality of drinking water.
After the adoption of the legal solution to increase the minimum wage in the country, a series of protests was staged by various interest groups over their concern about the long-term implications of the solution and its adoption during this period. The Police Union of Macedonia and the Independent Union for Education and Science took part in such protests, demanding the harmonisation of salaries in the education and police sectors with the minimum wage, in accordance with the collective agreement.
Аfter the domestic courts ruled that Jadranka Kostova, the editor of "Focus", and journalist Vlado Apostolov should pay more than 9,000 euros in damages to the ex-director of UBC, Sasho Mijalkov, for defamation and insult, on 5th April 2022 the European Court of Human Rights issued a judgment stating that the judicial authorities in North Macedonia violated freedom of expression, article ten, of the European Convention on Human Rights. It ordered that the plaintiffs, Kostova and Apostolov be paid non-material damages of 3,000 euros and 1,250 euros respectively.
During a program dedicated to the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, Mirka Velinova, a controversial journalist known to the public for her critical right-wing views, made unequivocal remarks amounting to hate speech and open calls for violence against the Ukrainian people and supporters of Ukraine.
Civic Space Developments