There are indications that part of the political party structures were created with Russian assistance as well, especially in the period when Gruevski’s regime began to crumble i.e. when it was clear that it cannot stick around anymore. Starting from 2015, with the presentation of the audio “bombs” [wiretapped conversations that showed the big crime and corruption] and the situation with the events in Kumanovo [the fierce battle between an armed rebel group with the security forces in the suburb Divo Naselje which left more than a dozed dead] that coincided with the visit of the former country’s president to the Kremlin, at an event boycotted by NATO i.e. the Day of the Victory over Fascism or the 9th of May, because of the then started war against Ukraine, said Filip Stojanovski, Metamorphosis Foundation’s Partnership and Resource Development Director during yesterday’s panel discussion organized by the organization CIVIL, titled “Disinformation and the propaganda in the media: The influence of the pro-Russian narratives on North Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic orientation.”
Stojanovski said it is very important to note that the problem is very complex and that partially it stems from the susceptibility of our society to disinformation. This is a situation that is evident even out of the context of the current geopolitical situation and the war against Ukraine, he said.
“We have had a situation when, due to various reasons, such as the quality of the educational system, the characteristics of the media, that the internal structures for the propaganda and manipulations were established both with Russian meddling and independently,” Stojanovski stressed.
Government’s advisor for media reforms Zoran Bojarovski also took part in the panel discussion and stressed that one of the simultaneous issues now, along with the brutal and unprovoked war with Ukraine, are the strong hybrid attacks that are happening in the cyberspace i.e. on the Internet.
Bojarovski pointed out tho these attacks, because according to all the data an enormous number of people today are using the Internet, and that especially susceptible target group for these attacks with disinformation are the young people.
According to Professor Vesna Poposka from the Vizion University in Gostivar, the propaganda as a goal isn’t selecting specific sectors and is spreading everywhere. She stressed that everyone is responsible for his own actions, especially in the academic community.
“In the academic community, it is very important to return to the academic integrity, out of that which has been described as predicaments in the profession, in accordance to the Law on Education and the Law on Research Activities, and unfortunately, the science was strongly misused, we had a Plenum and a Contra-plenum [associations of high education teaching cadres who opposed the government and a contra initiative by high education teaching cadres that opposed the former, thus defending the government]. We had protagonists of hate speech that were promoted as human rights activists, but that is something that cannot be prevented,” Poposka said.
The professor also noted that the efforts to prevent disinformation and to criminalize it are opening another sensitive, area since disinformation isn’t registered as a felony in the Criminal Code.
“Basically, it is very difficult to establish a balance between the need for security and the protection from disinformation and what has been set as a standard in accordance with Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights regarding freedom of speech. Therefore, we, as an academic community have a serious responsibility, including civil society and the Government, have responsibility regarding whom we are cooperating with and whose pinions are promoted. The media are also responsible to whom they are providing space, as sometimes, in search of sensationalism, they are inviting guests that lack academic integrity, but enjoy other titles that were gained in different ways and therefore, the responsibility is shared,” said Poposka.