The United Macedonia Diaspora (UMD) is a controversial diaspora organization that also happens to be as of writing this article, arguably the largest Macedonian diaspora organization in the world.
Like most diaspora organizations around the world, UMD happens to be very nationalists. They opposed the Bulgaria-North Macedonia friendship treaty that was signed in by the 18th of January 2018. Furthermore they opposed the law that made Albanian a co-official language of North Macedonia in January 2019. Which is ironic considering that they are an organization that claims to promote the human rights of Macedonian minorities.
And of course, UMD was also opposed to the Prespa Agreement with videos available of Meto Koloski criticizing Greece’s demands about the name dating back to the 31st of March 2008. You can view the video here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ivd4m8MLstk&ab_channel=ZaMakedonskiteRaboti).
Push for Influence
UMD in the past few years have been trying their best in order to gain influence in the Macedonian communities around the world. They do this by presenting themself as the biggest Macedonian diaspora organization as well as making efforts to control the narrative.
One of their members, Mario Hristovski who is labelled by UMD as one of the founders of their Generation M program, runs his own Youtube channel called Mario’s History Talks. On Mario History Talk’s, Hristovski publishes ahistorical fringe theories that try to link some kind of continuity between the Ancient Macedonians and the modern ethnic Macedonians. This is despite the ethnic Macedonian movement truly emerging in the early 20th century under Serbian ruled Vardar Banovina as it was called then as the Serbs banned the word ‘Macedonia’ during their efforts of Serbinization. After the Serbinization efforts failed, the Serbs decided to promote a new ethnic identity different to that of the Bulgarian identity that the majority of Slavs in the region of Macedonia identified with.
Hristovski employs dishonest tactics such as by attributing quotes to Gotse Delchev that are actually from the fictional novel Ilinden written by Bulgarian writer Dimitar Talev. There is also evidence online that Mario Hristovski has been going out of his way to copyright strike other Youtubers that point out his mistakes and lies. You can view the video here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gIbGHC0nk0&ab_channel=Mario%27sFantasyTalks)
Additionally, UMD runs an online news publication called Voice of Macedonia which has without a doubt taken inspiration from the national broadcaster of the United States which is called Voice of America.
On the Voice of Macedonia website (http://voiceofmacedonia.org/) it says that the website is part of the United Macedonian Diaspora Media.
An insight of the Voice of Macedonia’s goals and methods are presented here:
On the site also Mario Hristovski is featured as well as Elena Sekulovska about who we have an article that you can check out by clicking here.
However the individual that seems to be at the helm of running this operation is an individual called Katerina Trajkova who is described as a marketing specialist. The Voice of Macedonia website is registered by an individual from Arizona, the United States.
However, Voice of Macedonia has not been very active. The site was created on the 22nd of December 2019 however the first sign of actual journalism was on the 29th of August 2020 when Trajkova had a 3.42 minute interview with the leader of UMD, Meto Koloski.
Macedonia times is what seems to be the latest attempt by UMD to control the narrative. It has been retweeted multiple times by UMD leader Meto Koloski.
Additionally the Macedonia Times Twitter account has tagged the UMD official Twitter account and also been retweeted by the UMD Twitter account.
An article about UMD, is also present on the Macedonia Times. The article is titled ‘UMD Donates $50,000 to Target COVID in Macedonia’.
The reason why we are pointing all of this out is that officially Macedonia Times does not reveal its connection with the United Macedonian Diaspora. Instead at the very bottom of the Macedonia Times website it says this information about the site.
According to public records, the Macedonia Times website (macedoniatimes.news) was registered on the 5th of November 2020 by an individual in New South Wales, Australia. This is despite the official Twitter page of Macedonia Times it saying that the news website is based in “Skopje, Macedonia” which is again further evidence due to the refusal of UMD members to use the modern name of the country North Macedonia. It also shows the dishonesty by whoever from UMD is behind this news website.
Interestingly enough the domain of Voice of Macedonia (voiceofmacedonia.org) was also updated just 32 days later on the 7th of December 2020. Thus again showing the doubling down of UMD on its goal of increased influence and ability to control the narrative.
To add to all of this, the related pages of the Macedonia Times page are the Facebook page of UMD and UMD’s current leader Meto Koloski. The related pages on Facebook are based on what other pages the followers of the Macedonia Times page also happen to follow. Which again shows that there is a strong link to UMD.
One of the individuals associated with the Macedonia Times is an individual called Blagoja Maslarov who is the owner of a company called Macedonia Tours which is the only sponsor of the Macedonia Times website.
When you click on the advertisement it takes you to the website of Macedonia Tours (https://www.macedonia-tours.com/). This is important as the company has on multiple occasions collaborated with UMD on their Generation M initiative.
Additionally Maslarov, was featured in a list of notable guests to a meeting in Skopje. With the guests according to UMD coming from Sydney, Skopje, Washington D.C. and Strumica.
Although Maslarov does not appear to be a publicly vocal about UMD’s policy he does employ nationalist symbols with multiple posts of the Vergina Sun on his social media as well as a Vergina Sun tattooed on his chest. The Vergina Sun is a Greek symbol originating from the Ancient Greek world, it is seen by certain extreme circles of Macedonian nationalists as a symbol of the modern ethnic Macedonians despite the Slavs arriving in the area around 900 years after the existence of Ancient Macedonia.
Maslarov is also the owner of another business called Strike Media (strikemedia.agency) which is a marketing agency that specializes in the creation of websites, apps, as well as digital marketing and consulting. This answers the question of how Macedonia Times, a website that gets less than one thousand visits a month according to publicly available information has a sponsor. It is a deal between Maslarov and UMD where he creates their website in return for the site featuring an advertisement to his holiday planning business.
Maslarov was the owner of another marketing related website called Digital Wave Media (digitalwavemedia.com). In the past Maslarov according to public records has also registered Macedonia related websites himself such as Maps of Macedonia (mapsofmacedonia.com) and Extreme Macedonia (extrememacedonia.com). Public records show that Maslarov’s business is located in the suburb of Devon Park, in Adelaide, state of South Australia, Australia.
Based on multiple days of research, we know that Marija Anevska is responsible for a large part if not all of the articles on the Macedonia Times website.
Marija Anevska is the Vice Chair of the Australian operations of the Generation M initiative by UMD.
She has wrote a large number of articles for UMD websites as well as a poem that we have featured below which was shared by a Twitter account called WeAreMacedonia that is no longer active.
Our first piece of evidence is that Anevska is a native of Melbourne, Australia which is located in the state of New South Wales. The site Macedonia Times is also registered within the state of New South Wales.
Moreover, Stefani Taskova Miteva, the Chairwoman of the Australian operations of UMD’s Generation M at the time of writing this article has been in North Macedonia since before the COVID-19 pandemic began according to sources. Therefore Anevska without a doubt is currently handling extra responsibilities in the organization meaning that she is likely responsible for this publication that is handled by the Melbourne chapter of UMD.
We also analyzed the writing style of the two main authors of Macedonia Times that are called ‘editor’ and ‘MA’.
After analyzing all of the posts on the Macedonia Times site we found that there was a common writing style on all of them. The writer would start sentences and paragraphs with ‘According’, ‘According to’ and mostly starting paragraphs with ‘The’.
The first user account called ‘editor’ published the first article on the 13th of November 2020. That article was titled “Pandev Goal sends Macedonia to EU 2020”. The latest article for this editor was published on the 9th of December 2020, titled “Macedonian Opposition Parties Unite to Oust Zaev Regime”. The articles of the account called ‘editor’ has a different writing style to that of the articles published by Anevska.
On the other hand, when we checked every single one of the 30 articles published by the user called ‘MA’ we found that in 18 of the 30 articles the writer started the majority of the paragraphs with ‘The’ and there was also 9 articles out of the 30 available samples where paragraphs and sentences began with ‘According’ and ‘According to’. There is a clear correlation with the writing style of Marija Anevska, out of the over 10 different writers for UMD that we analyzed.
Additionally, although not exactly concrete evidence, the name of the account behind these articles is ‘MA’ which may be an abbreviation of Marija Anevska. It is still an interesting coincidence.
We also spend 3 days analyzing when the articles are uploaded on Macedonia Times and we found out that they are uploaded every time during what is daytime in Melbourne, Australia which is between night time and early morning in Europe. Since Melbourne is between 10 and 8 hours ahead of the average timezone in Europe. This further solidifies the publicly available data that shows that the website is located in the state of New South Wales where Anevska’s native Melbourne also happens to be located.
Content on Macedonia Times
Content on Macedonia Times is what can be categorized as against the government of Zoran Zaev with not a single positive article about Zaev’s government out of the 39 articles present on the site when completing this investigation piece.
Moreover, many of the articles are negative towards Bulgaria. With a number of the articles that criticize Bulgaria featuring pictures from World War 2 where Nazi allied Bulgarians. One of those featured on an article titled ‘Zaev’s Remarks for Bulgarian TV Cause Outrage at Home’ is an image that is apparently of Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria apparently making the Nazi salute. However Tsar Boris III is not actually in the picture.
In reality the image includes members of the VMRO; Anton Kozarev, Dimitar Chatrov, and Bulgarian PM Petar Gabrovski, among which group was also Dimitar Gjuzelov and Spiro Katincev. Spiro Katincev is the grandfather of Ganka Cvetanova who is an MP for VMRO-DPMNE.
Furthermore, the image on Macedonia Times is saved under the filename ‘boris-bulgar.jpeg’. This is key as the term ‘bulgar’ is a racist term used by Macedonian nationalists in order to demean Bulgarians for their Turkic origins. It is used by far-right Macedonian nationalists to try and push the theory that the ancestors of the ethnic Macedonians were not actually Bulgarians. Some members of the Macedonian far-right such as Mario Hristovski will use the xenophobic term ‘bulgar’ instead of ‘Bulgarian’.
This is particularly ironic considering that the real Tsar Boris III is actually pictured to have refused to do the Nazi salute.
In another article titled ‘Bulgaria Blocks Macedonian EU Path and calls for it to Burn’, which apart from being a misleading title as it was never the Bulgarian government that made that statement but it was actually Angel Dzhambazki, a member of parliament for the minor partner in the ruling Bulgarian coalition of GERB-VMRO. On Twitter, Dzhambazki posted what in English is translated as ‘Macedonia without Bulgarians, fire to burn it’ which is actually a famous quote of revolutionary Ivan Mihailov.
There is also an image of a joint Bulgarian-German parade in Sofia, Bulgaria during the Second World War where the Nazi on the article’s page. Additionally whoever from UMD saved the image is not able to spell the word ‘fascist’ as the file name is saved as ‘fasist-bulgaria.jpg’.
What is more ironic with all these historically false portrayals of Bulgaria being a fascist country is that Mario Hristovski one of the leading members and public faces of UMD finds Yugoslavian purges ‘beautiful’ (you can check out this article by clicking here).
UMD is making efforts in order to promote its views of how North Macedonia should conduct its politics and policies. These include a highly nationalist take on things that does not take into account objectivity.
There is without a doubt a good reason why UMD has decided to blur the ownership around the Macedonia Times news site. And that reason is that they want to create an air of credibility and trustworthiness to the reader while at the same time pushing aggressive hate and misinformation towards UMD’s long list of perceived enemies that include its neighbours Greece & Bulgaria, the sizeable minority of Albanians in North Macedonia as well as anyone that goes against their views.
After publishing our article on the 17th of December 2020, we noticed a major increase in our traffic in the days after from the states of New South Wales where UMD’s Australia and Macedonia Times operations are headquartered in the city of Melbourne. There was also a big traffic increase from the state of Victoria where a lot of UMD members are located including Blagoja Maslarov who we have discussed in this article.
There was major increases in traffic from states in the United State such as Michigan and Ohio which have high populations of ethnic Macedonians, with the biggest increase in visits coming from the state of Ohio. This is key as Mario Hristovski who we have made an article about a few days prior on 9th of December 2020 is based in the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. Hristovski has been tweeting about us in the past few weeks, upset about our article about him. This another major piece of evidence that further shows that UMD is associated with Macedonia Times.