By XHABIR DERALLA
In the midst of an election day in the three municipalities of Mavrovo and Rostushe, Centar Zhupa and Tetovo, where local elections are being held for the third time, on August 20, 2022, a text titled “UCK price list, this is the amount of cash for which they sell hearts and kidneys from Serbs?“ (*) appeared in the internet portal mkdenes.mk.
It concerns a propaganda text full of disinformation, the main purpose of which is to incite hatred towards the Albanians at a time when there is voting in municipalities with mixed ethnic composition.
“Organs of Serbs abducted in Kosovo at the end of the 90s were sold on the black market according to the following prices: 150,000 euros for a heart of a Serb, 30,000 euros for a kidney, 5,000 euros for five liters of blood if its O negative” – is written in the first paragraph of the text. Neither a source or a link have been indicated that can justify this claim.
The very title –“UCK price list, this is the amount of cash for which they sell hearts and kidneys from Serbs?“, leads readers to think that it is about atrocious trafficking that is taking place now, at this moment in time. The question mark and exclamation point at the end of the title have no function.
Then there are the speculations that the Kosovo political leaders, previously also leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA or in original: UÇK), Ramush Haradinaj and Hashim Thaci, as well as KLA spokesperson Jakup Krasniqi “earned millions in this way”. And that’s it.
A horror story without proof
“Organs of Serbs, Roma and disloyal Albanians were removed in several locations – most often in Albania – including the ill-reputed “yellow house”. The victims usually were not put to sleep before having the organs removed, but were cut up and slaughtered alive. Immediately after being removed, the organs were put in special refrigerators and transported” – is written in this manipulative horror story, again without indicating a source and link, or the time when such a thing is claimed to have taken place.
An attempt for “verification”
Further in the text, an attempt is, nevertheless, made to “verify” the claims in the text by stating that these claims are part of the “testimony of a witness cooperating in the case of organ trafficking, cited in the international investigation under the protection of the UN.
The text wasn’t met by a broader public response, but incited comments with hate speech and calls for violence and “extermination” on ethnic grounds by several social media users.
The origin of the disinformation: The controversial report of Dick Marty of 2010
What is it actually about? A large part of disinformation stems from facts or half-truths, and in their creation, their impact on the emotions of the public is taken into account.
The case that we are dealing with here, is about a propaganda text that is based on the controversial “Report of Dick Marty” of 2010. The author of the report, a former prosecutor in the Swiss canton of Ticino, was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe when, based on his report, he carried out an investigation into the allegations of organ trafficking during the Kosovo independence war in 1999.
Marty’s report at one time triggered an avalanche of reactions in the world, while the international institutions carried out three parallel investigations into the allegations in the report. The result of the investigations: zero evidence. No material evidence, bodies, remains or traces were found. Everything remained at the level of speculations, and to this day, the fate of over 1,800 people who disappeared in the haste of the war in Kosovo stays unknown.
A 2010 report of BBC reported on the controversies surrounding Marty’s report and on the testimonies that in the infamous “yellow house” in Albania there had been some traces of blood and medical instruments. But the investigation determined that the clues were far from being enough to confirm the allegations in the report, or even the connection to the KLA, as Marty persistently claimed.
“The fact is that there is no evidence in this case” – stated at one time (2010) Matti Raatikainen from the EULEX mission in Kosovo. But the fact that there is no evidence even after three international investigations is not indicated in the text. Thousands of texts have been published on this topic in the past 12 years, of which the analysis of the project for the Balkan Transitional Justice is yet another of the more significant contributions towards shedding light on, as is said in the analysis, Dick Marty’s “infamous report”.
Who is the author of this disinformation?
The author of this disinformation is unknown. According to the records of МАRnet, the portal was registered in February 2021. The founder of the portal is Information and Publishing Company Info Politika DOOEL Skopje, with Antonio Nestorovski as a contact person.
Even though there is no impressum, the portal, in the section About Us, starts with the strange position that “the topicality of the news does not mean also publication of fake news”, therefore calling for “Let’s get informed through MKDenes in order to protect ourselves from fake news!”.
Most of the texts published in this portal are not signed. This analysis refers to an ill-intended and manipulative text that is used with disinformation in order to achieve a goal opposite of the call in the section About Us of the portal.
The motives and goal for publishing the text on the KLA become even clearer if one takes a look at the unsigned text titled „ “Beginning of the defeat of the government – Ahmeti admits defeat and says the following…“ (*), published the night of the same day when there was voting in the three municipalities. The title is indicative and has nothing to do with the content of the text itself.
What is the goal of disinformation in the media?
This text is an illustration of what just one of the hundreds of this type of content look like that appear in the public communication in the country. The effort and time that are needed to create them are insignificant compared to the effort and time needed to expose them.
Primarily, the timing of the publishing of the text (August 20) is intended to inflict political harm in an election silence, during voting in local elections in ethnically mixed environments. Discrediting UCK has the goal to discredit DUI, but also SDSM, because they are in a ruling coalition.
The text that is being analyzed here doesn’t have high visibility, and the comments on the social media are not numerous, though, as expected, are full of hate speech. Still, this and many other texts and posts on the social networks are frequent. Texts with manipulative content are intensively published that have the sole purpose of – creating distrust, fear, divisions and hatred. Although most of them don’t have a “high range”, their intensity, consistency and repetitiveness do achieve a negative effect, whose consequences can be far-reaching.
The goal of the disinformation in some Macedonian media is to join the current nationalist campaign in the organization of anti-Western and pro-Russian entities and installations in the country, by instilling fear and panic in the public and inciting ethnic hatred and divisions. If met by a wider response, the nationalist campaign in the country has the potential to cause political and security instability and a crisis that would draw North Macedonia away from the Euro-Atlantic integration processes, reforms and multicultural character of society.
*PDF documents, true copies of the originals, are also used in the text, with the purpose to preserve the authenticity of the source that is the subject of the analysis.
Translation: N. Cvetkovska