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Macedonia's 'Colorful Revolution' A Palette Of Public Anger

  • Deana Kjuka

An antigovernment protester in front of a government building in Skopje.

An antigovernment protester in front of a government building in Skopje.

Revolutionary fervor has never looked so bold in Skopje, with grand monuments and statues bathed in paint splatter, and fountains overflowing with soap bubbles.

This is Macedonia’s "Colorful Revolution," a protest movement that draws on the country's diversity and extends across the political spectrum, uniting people of all stripes, ages, and colors to air their grievances against the government.

And they are getting their message across most vividly, both on the streets and on social media.

"Even the fountain is upset," writes this Twitter user.

Warrior On A Horse, a fountain in the capital's main square that was erected to honor Alexander the Great, cost taxpayers about 10 million euros ($11 million). Now its waters run blood red to symbolize victims of government corruption.

The protests erupted after Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov announced on April 12 that more than 50 officials implicated in a wiretapping scandal would be pardoned, and the investigation into the illegal telephone surveillance allegedly carried out be the government would be halted.

It was not the response that Macedonians expected nearly a year after the wiretapping scandal, which was revealed by the opposition, plunged their country into political crisis.

After the initial, violent, reaction to the announcement, cooler heads have prevailed as Macedonians gather in Skopje every evening under the slogan: 'No Justice, No Peace!'"

This Twitter user posted a photo proudly exclaiming: "Skopje, my city!

As the protesters found their own unique way to exhibit their anger, Macedonian journalist Kristina Ozimec coined a term for their movement -- Colorful Revolution -- a nod to the colorful makeup of the protesters.

The moniker stuck, and spilled onto the streets...

...and on social media.

"It's colored once again."

Statues and monuments are apparently in the crosshairs of paint guns because they were erected as part of a highly expensive and allegedly corrupt urban renewal project.

Now Skopje’s version of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe is peppered with bright colors.

The movement is organized primarily through Facebook and Twitter and the hashtags ‪#‎ШаренаРеволуција (color revolution)‬‪‬‪ #‎ШарамПравдаБарам‬‪‬ (Coloring for justice) and #‎Протестирам (I protest). For more than a week, they have helped flood social media with images of thousands of protesters, activists, and statues bearing their "color of anger."

This bronze statue of Prometheus used to be controversial because it was installed without anything covering the mythological god's manhood.

This Twitter user says that now Prometheus has good reason to wear underwear:

The Facebook page Шарена револуција has been posting images and videos from the daily protests:

These protests differ from the protests that erupted in February 2015 when the opposition released recordings allegedly made illegally by the government.

This time around, above all, it's a citizen’s protest that has united rights activists and average citizens.

"I see a lot of people out on the streets who have never been involved in politics," activist Zamir Mehmeti told RFE/RL’s Macedonian Unit.

Mehmeti says he has not seen any party flags at the protests.

Members of Macedonia’s LGBT community have also been showing their colors during the protests.

Despite the presence of government supporters at the April 21 protest, the scene has generally been euphoric, festive, and free of violence.

Which was not always been the case -- as highlighted by clashes on April 13 where protesters stormed and ransacked one of the president’s offices in the city center.