Berlin, October 31, 2022—North Macedonia’s authorities must conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the recent attack on journalist Zoran Bozinovski, determine whether it was related to his work, bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure the reporter’s safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.
Around 8.30 p.m. on October 25, two assailants wearing masks that fully covered their faces approached freelance journalist Bozinovski, author of political blog Burevesnik, from behind as he entered the staircase of his apartment building in Bitola, a town in southwestern North Macedonia, beat him several times on the head and left side of his body, and pushed him to the ground. They continued to beat him in the face using their fists and brass knuckles until neighbors, alerted by the noise, confronted the attackers, who fled the scene, the journalist and news reports said. According to these reports and a photo Bozinovski published on Facebook, he was treated in the hospital for head injuries in the area of his left temple, a hematoma in his left eye, and a broken nasal bone, before he was released.
According to Balkan Insight and CPJ’s review of Bozinovski’s blog, the blog focuses on high-level corruption and political scandals, and he also posts his reporting on Facebook, where he has about 37,000 followers.
“Authorities in North Macedonia must take the attack on freelance journalist Zoran Bozinovski very seriously, conduct a swift and thorough investigation to determine whether it is connected to his reporting, bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure his safety,” said Attila Mong, CPJ’s Europe representative. “Freelance journalists covering high-level corruption work in the public interest and are often vulnerable, and authorities must send a clear signal that acts of violence against them will not go unpunished.”
In emails, Bozinovski told CPJ that while he cannot pinpoint any recent article that might have led to the attack, and he has not received any threats recently, he is certain that the attack is in retaliation for his reporting on corruption in North Macedonia. He also said he suffered physical attacks in 2000 and 2002, but did not provide further details.
Bozinovski said that the police started an investigation into the recent attack, but he has heard no updates on his case.
In an email response to CPJ’s questions, North Macedonia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said that the minister, Oliver Spasovski, condemned the attack, saying that there is no tolerance for physical attacks against journalists. He added that police authorities consider investigating the attack a priority.