People wave national flags in Skopje, North Macedonia, on February 17, 2020. North Macedonian journalist Tanja Milevska recently received threats after tweeting about the country's name. (AP/Boris Grdanoski)

North Macedonia journalist Tanja Milevska receives death and rape threats

Over several days following July 11, 2020, Brussels-based journalist Tanja Milevska, a reporter for the North Macedonia state news agency MIA, received numerous threats and threatening messages on social media, according to a report by her employer and the journalist, who communicated with CPJ via email.

Milevska told CPJ that the messages began after she published a tweet on July 11 asking whether Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán used the official name of “North Macedonia” in a Hungarian-language video. When she received the answer that Orbán used the country’s former name, “Macedonia,” she asked in another tweet whether that was the country’s official position, and tagged the European People’s Party, a center-right political coalition in the European Parliament, of which Orbán’s Fidesz party is a member.

Following those tweets, anonymous and pseudonymous Twitter and Facebook users began sending threatening messages to Milevska, called her insulting terms and a “traitor to the nation,” she told CPJ, and shared screenshots of the messages.

One Twitter user called to “impale” her on a stick and “let her suffer slowly,” and another said that “if the lights go out in your entrance hall, you’d better kneel and pray.” She also received private messages on Facebook threatening her with death and rape, according to screenshots of the messages that CPJ reviewed.

The country formerly known as the Republic of Macedonia officially changed its name to the Republic of North Macedonia in February 2019, ending a decades-long dispute with neighboring Greece, according to reports.

Milevska reported the threats to the police in Belgium and in North Macedonia, but did not receive any response as of August 12, she told CPJ.

CPJ emailed questions to the police in Belgium and North Macedonia but did not receive any replies.