By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
After opponents of Todor Aleksandrov, a controversial figure in Macedonia, sprayed a swastika on his statue, a Skopje municipality says it will hire private security to protect it.
Skopke’s Kisela Voda municipality is to hire guards to protect the statue of the 19th century nationalist after a second attack since June on the five-metre-high monument.
In the first attack, soon after its erection in June, the statue was splashed with white paint.
“We condemn this act of vandalism”, Marijan Spaseski, the municipal spokesperson, said on Tuesday. “We are now considering hiring security to keep 24-hour watch on the statue,” he added.
Initially entitled only “Macedonian equestrian revolutionary”, the statue recently received a plaque identifying the subject as Aleksandrov, a controversial senior member of the Ottoman-era and post-Ottoman-era VMRO nationalist organization.
Historians of the Yugoslav Communist school long condemned him as a traitor to the Macedonian cause for his pro-Bulgarian views, while others called him “the head-cutter” for his alleged involvement in the assassinations of other VMRO members and of political and military figures of the time.
Macedonia’s main opposition Social Democrats were loud in condemning the statue, accusing the ruling VMRO DPMNE party of revising Macedonian history by glorifying what they called tyrants and diminishing the significance of the World War II Partisan heroes.
But others feeel differently, calling him “the soul and brain of the Macedonian resistance” and “Macedonia’s Robin Hood”. They also attribute to him remarkable organizational skills.
The sharply contrasting descriptions are a reminder of the deep ideological fissures that still divide Macedonians, especially over sensitive questions concerning the old VMRO organisation and its links to the kingdom of Bulgaria.
After first keeping silent, the erection of the statue was recently endorsed by the Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, and by the mayor of Kisela Voda, Marjan Gjorcev, both members of VMRO DPMNE.
The announcement of 24-hour security for the statue is in line with the actions of the nearby Skopje municipality of Centar.
To protect some 30 new monuments recently erected on its territory as part of the grand revamp of the capital called “Skopje 2014”, Centar municipality last week agreed to pay 120,000 euro to a private security agency for a two-year contract.
This has raised questions about unjustified spending and the role of the police in securing the monuments.
Although “Skopje 2014” envisages the construction of many buildings and monuments, Aleksandrov’s statue is the only one to have been intentionally damaged so far.