USAID Macedonia, which stands accused of using public funds to support left wing parties, NGO groups and media outlets in Macedonia, is now preparing to add another news outlet to the list it controls. The Zurnal.net news site reports that USAID Macedonia is putting significant financial resources at the disposal of the Makfax news agency. This move would include transfers of numerous journalists affiliated with the left wing SDSM party to this outlet, which will use USAID funds to set up a news TV channel, on top of the agency news it currently provides.
It is reported that Santa Argirova, the journalist who SDSM nominated to lead the Macedonian public MRTV television in the run up to the December elections will move to Makfax under this scheme. Argirova was also chief of staff for former SDSM appointed Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva.
Other journalists who are notable for their links with SDSM, are said to follow in the latest USAID Macedonia led media project. Zurnal reports that they will include Predrag Petrovic, who now heads the small pro-SDSM news site A1on, and Ljubisha Arsic from the Fokus weekly magazine, who gained notoriety for his fake reporting on the Caus scandal. Arsic was famously given an award by the European Union mission in Macedonia for investigative journalism into allegations of an underground factory for producing fake passports and identity cards, which he tried to pin on the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party. It was only later revealed that there really was a group of forgers, led by Zahir Beqiri – Caus, but that they worked in coordination with the left wing SDSM party, and prepared fake documents which SDSM was using in its media campaigns against VMRO-DPMNE.
Several journalists from the long failing left wing Utrinski Vesnik newspaper are also said to plan to move to Makfax. They will include Gordanja Duvnjak, former chairman of the board of the Foundation Open Society Macedonia and Utrinski’s diplomatic correspondent Slobodanka Jovanovska.
USAID Macedonia and the US Embassy in Skopje have dragged their feet in responding to numerous requests, including from prominent members of Congress, about the abuse of the taxpayer’s funding that was devoted to them. Allegations focused on their funding of Soros led NGO groups which then closely coordinated their protests and public campaigns with the SDSM party. But no less important is the funding USAID Macedonia has given to media outlets, which has also exclusively gone to left wing media, such as the Telma and Alsat TV stations and numerous news sites.