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DAILY BRIEF May 20, state of emergency, day 62: CIVIL discloses fake news, Ministry of Education and Science with vouchers for students and youth, 19 new COVID-19 cases, 16 recovered and 4 patients die…

News of the day: CIVIL’s monitoring team discloses fake news on alleged employment of Albanians in the Public Revenue Office Stip, published on the social networks.

The fake news consists of photo of a document that is claimed to be a decision according to which all selected persons for employment in the Stip Regional Office of the Public Revenue Office are Albanians. The fake news is being published tendentiously and with an obvious

intention to cause hate speech on ethnic grounds. This can be seen from the comments in which words such as “Shqiptarization”, “cantonization” are used. Some of the comments were deleted quickly after they were posted. As first supposedly addresses from which the fake news have been posted are the Facebook pages Makedonski pres and San Stipago.

According to CIVIL’s analysis, an intention for causing hate speech on ethnic grounds can be seen in this procedure of creating and spreading fake news.

CIVIL, in its continuous calls to the public and the institutions, points out that such occurrences often are linked to political action of organized groups whose background is party-related.

Statement of the day: Minister of Education and Science Arber Ademi at today’s press conference announced 3 types of financial support for secondary school pupils, students and youth up to the age of 29.

“The Ministry of Education and Science together with the Government, the Agency of Youth and Sport, are immediately starting work on an operational plan for adopting the support. The manner of applying will be announced in the following days. It is anticipated for them to be able to receive the assistance by the end of July”, stated Ademi.

The first measure is a voucher in the amount of 6,000 denars, and this will be assistance for covering tuition for university studies and accommodation in dormitories. The second will be a domestic payment card in the amount of 3,000 denars that will be intended for students and will be used for buying domestic products, in sectors that are most affected by the crisis. The third measure, on the other hand, is in the amount of 30,000 denars and is for youth up to the age of 29, and is for co-financing trainings and development of in-demand IT skills.

State of emergency

The Institute for Public Health today registered 16 recovered COVID-19 patients, as follows:

– Skopje 7

– Kumanovo 1

– Tetovo 3

– Veles 1

– Kocani 1

– Negotino 3

In the past 24 hours, 512 tests have been performed and 19 new cases of COVID-19 have been registered: Skopje-11, Kumanovo-2, Prilep-1, Tetovo-1, Veles-1, Gostivar-1, Strumica-1 and Vinica-1. A total of 22,767 tests for COVID-19 have been conducted so far in the country.

Of the total number of tests conducted over the past 24 hours, 223 tests are within the screening in kindergartens, and there are no positive cases. Of the 1,131 tests made so far on kindergarten employees, only one COVID-19 case has been confirmed, this being in Bitola.

In the “September 8” General Hospital in Skopje, a 65-year-old patient from Skopje died, admitted in the hospital on May 11, a 71-year-old patient from Skopje hospitalized on May 16 and a 73-year-old patient from Tetovo hospitalized since May 11. At the Clinic for Infectious Diseases in Skopje a 41-year-old patient from Prilep died, who had been treated for over 40 days at the Clinic.

The total number of COVID-19 diagnosed patients in our country from the beginning of the epidemic is 1,858, while the number of recovered patients is 1,367, 110 patients have died, and currently the number of active cases in the country is 381.

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In the past 24 hours, 52 people have disobeyed the ban on movement, 39 of them have been detained and appropriate measures will follow for the others.

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Minister of Health Venko Filipce at today’s press conference said that it is still too early to open the borders because, according to him, if they do open, a great part of the measures and benefits of the national strategies could be lost.

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The Committee for Infectious Diseases with a recommendation for a 58-hour curfew for the holidays St. Cyril and Methodius Day and Eid al-Fitr.

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From the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic in the country, 1.771 surgeries have been performed on patients at the surgical clinics of the Mother Teresa medical complex, “September 8” General Hospital and Clinic for Surgical Diseases “St. Naum Ohridski” – Skopje.

Flash news

Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski today stated that they have received the responses from all three institutions, from the Committee for Infectious Diseases, the State Election Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR, which inform that they are expecting an election date and based on that to start preparations.

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The inspection services, in the period May 12-18 this year, have carried out a total of 2,985 extraordinary inspections with regard to compliance with all the recommendations and measures for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. The State Market Inspectorate has closed 14 hospitality facilities in this period, stated the President of the Inspection Council, Magdalena Filipovska Grashkoska, at today’s press conference.

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Members of the State Election Commission (SEC) today attended part of the meeting of the Committee for Infectious Diseases, where they presented their thoughts and raised additional questions in relation to the election protocols.

Minister of Health Venko Filipce today informed that in the coming days the Committee will reply to the questions of the Commission’s members, and also said that they, that is, the state, could respond to the need for protective materials for the elections, having in consideration that it concerns a large number.

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The issue of the efficiency and speed of the criminal proceedings are the major problem identified in the third and final report on the activities and cases under the former Special Prosecutor’s Office (SPO), which the OSCE Mission in Skopje presented today.

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The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM), the Independent Union of Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM) and the Council of Media Ethics in Macedonia (CMEM) consider that the Government should refrain from hasty and impetuous solutions in the media sphere, especially in a pre-election period.

CIVIL ACTIVITIES

CIVIL’s long-term monitoring is following and registering fake news and hate speech in the public communication, in the media and social networks and concludes a worrying rise of fake news and hate speech in recent period.

Of the numerous cases noted by the monitoring, in these past days the case of civil activist Kristina Kostova has also been noted, who is just another victim of extreme hate speech. After a publically expressed public opinion on the social networks about weddings and unnecessary exposure to a health risk during the pandemic, an online offence filled with hate speech against her is noted.

Following Kostova’s post, a large number of messages and comments that openly promote hate speech and call for violence against Kostova have been registered, by using insulting words and extreme expressions that are based on prejudice and stereotypes.

Kristina Kostova does not hold a public function, but just because, as a citizen with a guaranteed right to freedom of opinion and expression, she expressed a personal opinion, she has been a victim of public lynch by people who are not like-minded, to such an extent that she has been threatened with rape and murder!

CIVIL most strongly condemns the hate speech and expresses solidarity with all victims of hate speech. At the same time, CIVIL demands from the institutions to act accordingly and in accordance to the legal obligations, not to allow such hate speech to remain unsanctioned. Fake news and hate speech must be condemned, discouraged and sanctioned.

Based on this and many other registered cases in CIVIL’s monitoring, it has been concluded that the Macedonian society is facing serious consequences of infodemic, fake news and hate speech that arise from the destructive campaign of certain political and criminal centers of power in the country and in the world.

Therefore, CIVIL calls on the institutions to activate themselves as soon as possible and to take all necessary measures to discourage these severe forms of abuse of the social networks and the Internet media, through which hate speech is promoted. It is known that hate speech leads to acts of hatred, but even without that, it acts destructively on the public communication in a democratic society.

The possibility for each of us to freely express our opinion is one of the most significant values and an indicator of the democratic capacity of society. The hate speech that we are witnessing this period shows the democratic capacity of individuals and groups, more specifically, their inability to accept an opinion that is opposite of theirs. Even more obvious is the inability for them to develop a constructive debate on a certain topic.

A democratic public, especially the media and civil society organizations, have a responsibility to oppose and condemn hate speech.

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