Sunday, October 29, 2006
(Krassimir Iliev, ex-secretary of OMO "Ilinden", St. Vrach, 1992)
In 1940 the leader of the Norwegian fascists Vidkun Quisling supported actively the Hitlerite occupation of Norway. This way the people who collaborate with a national enemy and betray their country came to be called quislings.
On 10th March 1990 around 4 p.m. I, together with ten or so other men were drinking in the tavern "Brezata" in Sandanski. In our tipsy company there was only one Macedonist - Georgi Buhala. He proposed us to attend a Macedonian demonstration in Sofia to "deal" with the Shopi ['Shopi' - ethnographic group around Sofia, Samokov, Kjustendil, etc.]. Without giving too much of a thought, we decided to take the night train to Sofia. The [bad] things the Communists did in Pirin Macedonia were known very well and at that moment, when the first steps were made towards the elimination of the totalitarian regime, we, not having any idea about the political aim of that meeting and with a certain doze of anger, went to "deal" with the Shopi. Travelling in a drunken state, with no tickets and amidst continuous scandals with the service personnel of the train, we arrived at the Central Railway station in Sofia on 11th March 1990. Half an hour later 25 more people from the valley of Struma arrived with the first inter-city from Pirin Macedonia.
We reached the meeting place - NDK [NDK stands for 'National Palace of Culture'], where we were met by the leader of all Macedonists in Bulgarian, the self-proclaimed film producer Georgi Solunski, together with a TV crew for Skopje headed by Dragi Ivanovski and the correspondent of the Skopje semi-official "Nova Makedonija" in Sofia - Vladimir Tulevski. We were some 35-40 people in total. I and my company thought that we have come to a demonstration, but instead we had to sign a petition that was to be presented to the Bulgarian Parliament.
On 12th March 1990 I was stopped in the square of the town of Sandanski by the then activist of "Ilinden" Vihren Zaprev. He asked me: "Do you want to join us?" I asked to join what. The answer was: "The Independent Macedonian Organisation "Ilinden" - VMRO /independent/ (NMO "Ilinden" - VMRO /ind./). When I replied positively, he wrote down my name in one notebook and thus I became their activist, without seeing any of their program documents. On 13th March 1990 near the town's swimming pool in Sandanski there was convened the constituent meeting of the local organisation of NMO "Ilinden" - VMRO /ind./ 33 people were attending. V. Zaprev was elected as a leader, Kr. Iliev [the author of this text] - as a secretary, Ivan Petrov - as a treasurer. There I also got acquainted with Jordan Kostadinov from KChPMPM (Committee for Human Rights of the Macedonians in Pirin Macedonia). This was the beginning of my activity in "Ilinden".
The first bigger event I attended already as a member of "Ilinden" was the counter-demonstration on 23rd March 1990 in Petrich against the demonstration of VMRO-SMD. There I got acquainted with Atanas Kirjakov and Sokrat Markilov. After the counter-demonstration we moved to the town's park in order to analyse the situation. There Kirjakov gave me the office address of Dimche Beljanovski from Radio Skopje.
On 14th (?) March 1990 in Sandanski (in the flat of V. Zaprev) was organized the constituent meeting of OMO "Ilinden". It was attended by representatives from NMO "Ilinden" - VMRO /ind./ and KChPMPM and its agenda was:
The newly elected leadership included: Stojan Georgiev - president; Jordan Kostadinov - deputy-president; Petur Marchev - secretary; Kiril Ivanov - treasurer; Atanas Kirjakov - main co-ordinator; Jordan Berbatov, Teodosij Popov, Georgi Suharev, Dimitur Karamachev, Krassimir Iliev [the author], Kostadin Zlatinov, Krasimir Tupareev - members of the co-ordination committee /co-ordinators/. A control commission consisting of Ivan Ajurov and Vihren Zaprev was also elected. The people who would speak at the Jane Sandanski meeting were also selected. I was among them and I had to read the political declaration of OMO "Ilinden".
One detail deserves the attention here and it concerns the preparations for the meeting. I don't know how Mr. Kirjakov succeeded in convincing the directorate "Cultural recreation and decoration". But we were [later] notified by the then head of the Sandanski municipality Mr. Ivan Manikatov (letter No. 48-00-10 from 18 April 1990) that in compliance with the Law for the parties, our meeting had been banned because our organisation had not been registered. With the help of the directorate "Cultural recreation and decoration" in the town of Blagoevgrad we were able to construct a platform on the fields besides the Rozhen monastery. Only the back of the stage was missing and I and Kirjakov had to steal it from the store of the "Cultural recreation and decoration" directorate. The back was put in place late in the evening and we put guards (they were there for three days).
The long-awaited day of 22nd April 1990 /Sunday/ arrived. The meeting had to start at 10 a.m. People from Skopje also arrived. There were quite a few people from Bulgaria because we used a trick - we wrote an additional note to the placards that the famous folk-singer Vaska Ilieva (well-known to the people of Pirin Macedonia) would also attend.
Without going into the details of the meeting itself, I would like to quote several excerpts from the program of the Macedonists:
"The Nevrokop bishopric must be detached from the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
The bishop must be Macedonian. The young men of Pirin Macedonia must be exempted from military service. The Bulgarian occupational troops, which have occupied Pirin Macedonia since 1912 and have represented a national and economical burden for the Macedonian nation must be withdrawn. All Bulgarian political parties and organisation on the territory of Pirin Macedonia must cease to exist or they must be renamed 'Macedonian", i.e. they had to accept the Skopjean thesis and, thus, to oppose the Bulgarian politics of assimilation. The regional newspaper "Pirinsko delo", the newspaper "Makedonija" and all similar media, which falsify the Macedonian history and culture and incite ethnic conflicts, must be banned. OMO "Ilinden" calls for a condemnation of the Bulgarian state by an
international court and for reparations to be paid for the sufferings and pains
caused by the actions of Bulgaria."
My next big event was on 4th May 1990 in the "Makedonija" square of Blagoevgrad before the monument of Goce Delchev. We were around 15 people and ours was a silent vigil with candles in hand. Of course, there was also a crew from the Macedonian TV headed by Branko Radovanovich.
On 6th June 1990 we were around 15 people who made a hunger strike before the Regional Court in Blagoevgrad in a sign of protest against the refusal to register our organisation. On 2nd August 1990 our attempt to conduct a congress in the village of Oshtava was prevented by the police.
On 17th September 1990 I arrived in Sofia [? Must be 'arrived in Skopje']. What happened during my whole stay in the former Yugoslavia can be seen from my interview [around one year later] with the journalist from Blagoevgrad Mr. Strashimir Marchev.
Mr. Krassimir Iliev: Good day in Skopje. - Good day to the listeners of Radio Blagoevgrad. We haven't seen, haven't heard of each other since a long time. Tell us how you got here, what was your fate. - In the Republic of Macedonia I arrived on 16th September 1990, more exactly on 15th September I crossed the border crossing point of Zlatarevo, on the 16th I was on the border meeting of the Sandanski [RoB] and Berovo [RoM] municipalities, and on 17th September I was in Skopje.
- I suppose you came with a lot of hope, with a lot of plans for the future? - Exactly, absolutely. I was up in the clouds, we were cheated from all sides: "At any cost you must go and graduate at one of the faculties in Skopje". This is what I was told by the cultural attache at the Yugoslavian embassy in Sofia Milica Knezhevich. She proposed me to come and to see her in Skopje so that she could tell me things which she didn't dare to tell me in Sofia. That is why I applied for an international passport and arrived in Skopje. But there I met something completely different. They told me that I had to graduate at one of the faculties and, as the organisation "Ilinden" had no jurist, that I had to enrol in the Faculty of Law. The admission was easy - it was in the form of an interview. No exam or even no documents for finished high-school were necessary. My documents arrived with the diplomatic mail of the Yugoslav embassy with the help of Atanas Kirjakov. My documents were from the technical college in Bobovdol.
- And from there on? How did your study pass? Until now you have had two semesters? - My studies, it can be said, were in fact just formal. Initially I was constantly sought after by the journalists of the Macedonian Radio and TV - Miroslav Chipovski, Vladimir Lape, Branko Radovanovich, etc. I was constantly asked questions, taken interviews: what was the organisation "Ilinden" doing at the events they [the journalists] didn't attend? After all this, they collected their fees, they took their pay, and I was left with the vain hopes. I became sick of all this - "Se ke se sredi, ne se sekirajte, ke bide se vo red" ("We will sort out everything, do not worry, everything will be OK"). But nothing came out of it as it was planned. Another group [from Pirin Macedonia] arrived, sent to the Skopje's faculties following the recommendations of "Ilinden". We were nine men and two women in total, studying at different faculties. We didn't receive any scholarships for five months. For everything we had to go here and there. I will never forget Skopje with my bloodshed feet. This can be confirmed by some of the leadership of "Ilinden", if they have the guts, of course. More specifically, one of the members of the co-ordination committee Kostadin Zlatinov told me: "Why are your feet so bloodshed?" I told him: "Because I have to constantly go about various institutions and beg before them for social aid, like a beggar, because there is nothing to eat." We have been given miserable aid of around 500 dinars. Indeed, at that time they had greater value, but these 500 dinars were given by the Centre for Social Protection of handicapped, poor people - this was the category we were put into.
The first money I received in the Republic of Macedonia were from one Shiptar, Albanian. We dig a canal for him, I and two other men who were not students. They wanted to come to work here, they were from Sandanski [RoB] and their names were Vesselin Stoimenov and Ilija Trenkov. With the money we earned we bought shoes for one of them because his summer shoes had worn out. We were in such a difficult situation that some of us, particularly Georgi Filipov, and also me and Cvetan Vardakov, had to resort to stealing cabbage from the vegetable markets in Skopje. Some days we had just a loaf of bread and cabbage with salt, and we were looking to earn some money.
After that there began a big anti-Bulgarian offensive in which I played the role of a puppet. They received the initial information from me, it was after that typed on a type-writer and I had to read it several times, because I couldn't speak the so called Macedonian language, it was difficult for me. Especially for the meeting between the leader of VMRO-SMD Mr. Dimitur Gocev and Dr. Franjo Tudzhman - the President of the Republic of Croatia, this meeting had to be presented as anti-Macedonian. First, I put my signature under an open letter to the President Zhelev and the Prime-Minister Popov [of Bulgaria], after the first meeting of the latter with his Greek counterpart Mitsotakis. This letter, you know its content, was delivered through the TANYUG agency. Another initiative was the delivering of humanitarian aid to the hungry people in Pirin Macedonia. I signed this document as well because I was authorised from "Ilinden". I think all this was done in order to score political points and to increase the rating on "Ilinden". I was given the number of 8,760 people who were living on the starvation line in institutions for old people and for youngsters in Pirin Macedonia. I don't now how truthful this estimate was, I just signed such a document and transmitted it.
- I see, Mr. Iliev, they you feel agitated in the moment. Still, you are an intelligent person. I will return a little bit back in time. You mentioned one link which attracts attention - the embassy of Yugoslavia in Sofia, the Organisation "Ilinden", the big promises given to all these Bulgarian citizens who go to study in Skopje, and the propaganda campaign there. What was the connection between all these details and facts, mentioned by you? - I will tell you, even in greater details. Every Tuesday and Friday either me or Atanas Kirjakov, or sometimes both of us, visited the Yugoslav legation in Sofia, more exactly the embassy and the consular section, and took propaganda literature, the newspaper "Nova Makedonija", various booklets, Macedonian grammar, Bulgarian-Macedonian dictionary - that kind of things. We were in contact with the ambassador Milenko Stefanovich, the head of their legal office Esman Karabegovich, the culture attache Milica Knezhevich and the consul Mihajlo Dabidich. Even, it may sound funny, they proposed to me and to Kirjakov, one or both of us to become grave-attendees!
- How is that - grave-attendees? - In Sofia, in "Orlandovci" there are six or seven Serbian graves, of Serbian soldiers. This place was attended by the legation. It happened so that I wrote an autobiography in order to receive money this way. The money I had to receive was USD 80 per month. They came directly from the Union of the [Anti-Fascist] Fighters of the Republic of Serbia. The whole affair was just a cover up, so that there could be an explanation for the money we received - "You see, the men are earning this money with their hands!"
- Another question, Mr. Iliev. The Bulgarian press, the radio and the TV mentioned some cases of money being given here in Skopje during the stay of some activists of OMO "Ilinden". Do you know something about these facts? - Yes, you are right. Unfortunately I cannot give you copies of the invoices for the money given to "Ilinden". I cannot say exactly, but as far as I remember these were big sums. Let's us start from the oldest one - Sokrat Markilov. At the moment he has or he must have, I don't know where the money really are, 4,000 DM.
- Were these received in a single transaction? - It was a single transaction. About Stojan Georgiev - he has received most of all and I don't know whether he has given the money to the treasury of the organisation. I have in mind 1,100 Canadian dollars, 3,000 DM, 700 Australian dollars. Besides that for Stojan Georgiev, who was a representative of "Ilinden" in Copenhagen, the expenses were from the old cabinet of Gligorie Gogovski. Another representative of the organisation was the Yugoslav citizen Georgi Janchev, who is from the village of Pokrovnik, in the district of Blagoevgrad. It may sound paradoxical - a Yugoslav citizen to represent the organisation "Ilinden" which is from the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria. More money were given to the deputy leader of "Ilinden" Jordan Kostadinov. His visit to Toronto - the air-flight tickets, a number of other things. I know that he personally received USD 300. After that there was a conflict between me and the leadership of "Ilinden". I wrote a letter to Kirjakov, attached copies of the invoices and through the unlawful wife of Sokrat Markilov - Velichka Stefanova, I sent it to Bulgaria. But Kirjakov received just the letter, without the invoices. But more people also learned that the leader of "Ilinden" had embellished some funds.
- Do you know, Mr. Iliev, which political figures here, in the Republic of Macedonia, back the financing of OMO "Ilinden"? - Yes, I know. And can tell you, I am not afraid of anything, although it will cause me troubles here, in Skopje. The political figures are - Branko Crvenkovski, the leader of the Social-Democratic Union of Macedonia (the former communists). Also the former leader of the Social-Democratic Party - Slavko Miloslavlevski. The president of the Union of the Communists-Movement for Yugoslavia - Dragisha Atanasovski. The former and current secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Nikola Todorchevski. The secretary of Blazhe Ristovski - Venko Damjanovski. These are political figures who occupy state functions.
I will tell you, I gave also the address of the private firm of Atanas Kirjakov - "Kukush-1913" so that his newly-registered newspaper "Pirinska kambana" could be assisted from here with technical equipment - photo-copier, other things. Then we had a talk with the chairman of the [Macedonian] Parliament Stojan Andov. Jordan Berbatov and Georgi Kovachev from OMO "Ilinden" were also there. At that time VMRO-DPMNE was holding its congress. After their departure Stojan Andov called me and I gave him the address of Kirjakov and his firm. He [Kirjakov] should wait for an answer, for a call from Vienna, from their [Andov's] firm. The money couldn't be given directly from here, the Skopjean brewery "Skopska pivara" had to be an intermediary.
- You were the secretary of OMO "Ilinden" while you were in Bulgaria, and I suppose you have exact data about the number of OMO "Ilinden"'s members. Here it is claimed that OMO "Ilinden" has around 40,000-50,000 members. - Yes, I can tell you. I was the secretary until 19.10.1991. I was still here, after the decision of the Supreme Court, then I was told that I had to resign and become an ordinary member, and that Berbatov should take my place. I can tell the exact number of the members, because all protocols passed through my hands. The same number as that you say is claimed - I have read about it in the newspaper "Nova Makedonija", written by a colleague of yours, Miroslav Spirovski is his name.
How many members? The number is not big. There are 12 members in Blagoevgrad, half of them - in the ruling body. In Sandanski there were initially 33 members, and 27 remained. In Petrich - 47, in Mikrievo - 23, in Gega - 18, in Simitli there were 6. Along the river Mesta, when we were there to advertise, we couldn't form a section in Goce Delchev. Now, I hear, there was formed one. In Musomishte - 7, or 8, something like that. In Koprivlen - 4. Actually, around 150-160 members in total. And if we add the people around Solunski, let them be 200, no more than that!
- Mr. Iliev, you experiencing a personal drama. I sympathise with you and not out of curiosity but simply because the public should know about this, I am asking you to tell about it [about the personal drama]. - Yes, I will try to tell as much as possible. You know, that in my youth I was convicted for criminal offences and that I spent time in the Bulgarian prisons. In every country there is law and order. Whoever breaks it will have to bear to consequences. The same with me. I tried to escape by crossing the border, I had a suspended sentence for a rape, I also had a sentence for burglary. I am not trying to justify myself - it can happen to anybody, nobody is immune to it...
- The past is past, we are not so interested in this... - But the circles here, more exactly the security services - the UDBA, knew my past in details, they knew who I am, what I am. They knew about my criminal past and also about my activities in OMO "Ilinden". Later they were displeased by my activities, I say later, not in the beginning. Which direction did I take? I went in the direction of VMRO-DPMNE, the only one which fights most actively against the Serbian expansionism in Macedonia, which wants the clear the Serbisms from the language in Macedonia. Otherwise said, they have dignity and that is why I gave them my support. While in the whole world, you know, in Eastern Europe the Communism was defeated, the gentlemen from "Ilinden" paired with the Macedonian Communism, or more exactly - with the Serbo-Communist regime in Macedonia. It led to a confrontation between me and "Ilinden". After that here, in Macedonia, on 17.01.1991 I was framed up in one rape case of one of the girls from the group from Petrich. At that very time I was in Tetovo, by a pure chance. Another student invited me at "zhurka". Now I am subjected to a preliminary investigation. I denied, as much as I could, while they insisted on their version.
All these activities were known to the UDBA services here. Many times they postponed the investigation, until we reached the trial. I was appointed two lawyers and was given a 10 years sentence and my passport was taken away. After two months of juridical fights, in September I filled an appeal. The date of the trial is still not set, but I succeeded in photo-copying the evidence this girls presented and was a little bit surprised. I won't read her evidence. I give it to you so you could see for yourself. She apologises that there was nothing of the kind [that there was no rape?] even [if] she had contacts with me, and that she had given me an aid of 2,000 dinars, which I have never seen in my life. I will tell you what happened to her, I haven't spoken to her for three months already. But I understood that it is 10 days since she has been admitted to the city hospital of Skopje - she tried to kill herself by taking an enormous quantity of drugs. Her passport was also taken away. Well, now, they claim they are a civil and democratic state. Even in my case if there was a rape - OK, I concealed it, now there will be a criminal trial against me. Let them judge me according to their laws. There are reasons why my passport should be taken away. But why hers? On what basis?
Besides these repressions on part of UDBA, another fellow citizen of ours, a student at the Economical faculty was pressed to give blood, as he was cheated that he will be given an additional session [an additional chance to pass his exams], so that he could satisfy the conditions for enrollment for the second year and so that he could keep his scholarship. The guy gave blood. And this blood was sent to Serbia, for the war of Sheshel.
- It is very difficult to assimilate all this. You are apparently deprived of civil rights, you are apparently involved in a very dirty affair. - Yes, it is indeed one dirty affair, so that, as far as I can fell, they expect they will make me do some job for them [be at their service]. And what kind of service I still don't know.
- That is, the mechanism is, Mr. Iliev, - loyalty and payment! That is how it works. - Yes, that's right. Loyalty and payment! And I can stress on one thing. The people, who fled from Bulgaria at the time of Zhivkov and who came here, in Skopje, have already passed though the hands of UDBA. If they wanted to live in Skopje, they surely had to become "Yugoslavs". And "Yugoslavs" means - typical Serbomans. Those, who didn't agree, were forced to go abroad.
- What is your message to those people who have believed in the propaganda?
There is one truth I could quote, a folk saying: "Kamukut tezhi na mjastoto si!" ("The right man in the right place!"). You can feel anybody, even a Martian, this is your right. But now I will repeat what I said at the beginning of your talk:
What is "Ilinden" and who is it representing? Because "Ilinden" is the product of the Serbian expansionism, with some of the "Ilinden" members having troubles/difficulties in the past, and now they are trying to resurface in the political life in whatever variety they could. They are deluding themselves. This is what I want to say. Let the people not be fooled by the promises of "Ilinden". All this is a LIE!
These are some excerpts of my conversation with the journalist Mr. Marchev.
In conclusion I would like to propose my solution to this problem.
To expect from Bulgaria to acknowledge the results of the forcible Macedonisation performed after 1944 is similar to expect from Turkey to accept the delusional logic of the so called "process of national revival" [against the Bulgarian Turks in the 80's].
In the well known book of the ex-leader [of OMO "Ilinden"] Stojan Georgiev "Makedonija nad vsichko" ("Macedonia above everything"), which was in fact written by Gane Todorovski (the author of the poem "O, mother Serbia"), the official author asks the following question: "Why doesn't the prosecutor's office do their work?"
I am also asking the same question!
After it became known to many people that the aim of the Macedonian quislings is - SECESSION.
I propose before the public to appeal to the prosecutor's office. All of us, those who contributed to this secession, those who are still continuing in this direction, must be brought to trial!