Nikola Mladenov was born on this day 52* years ago. A man considered to be one of the forefathers of the Macedonian Spring and a journalist who indebted the fragile Macedonian democracy immensely. On the evening of 26 March 2013, just two weeks after his 49th birthday, Mladenov lost his life in a tragic car accident. We will pay him homage by publishing articles written by his colleagues and friends after his tragic death.
Beginning as a prospective young actor, in the middle of the 1980s Nikola Mladenov refocused his ambitions and started working as a journalist in “Mlad Borec”. He was one of those who implemented the pluralism in the Macedonian journalism, supported by his team in “Mlad Borec”. Later he became deputy editor-in-chief and by the end of the 1980s took the post of the editor-in-chief. “Mlad Borec” was the herald of the Journalism Spring in Macedonia.
His colleagues have never hesitated to say that he is a forefather of the Macedonian Spring – all the advances of the pluralism and all the strides which facilitated the democratic processes in this country were triggered by this newspaper, Mladenov’s work of art. After “Mlad Borec”, he founded Libertas radio, and shortly after that, in 1995, he founded the first free and independent weekly magazine in Macedonia – “Fokus”. Led by Mladenov, “Fokus”, with the motto “Weekly magazine of the internal and, furthermore, of the external enemy”, would become one of the pillars of the new Macedonian democracy.
Mladenov had been building the fame of “Fokus” for over 20 years, almost a half of his life, creating a medium that championed free speech – the freedom was the imperative in his articles. Through “Mlad Borec” and later “Fokus”, he implemented new rules in journalism – freedom above all! Everything that had been started in “Mlad Borec” continued with “Fokus” – this weekly magazine strived towards revolutionary journalism, towards freedom, towards criticism for everything that ought to be criticized.
Mladenov hadn`t been harking the solicitations of the power figures and had always strived for the truth as a pillar of the journalistic work. In all those twenty-some years Mladenov had held to his beliefs, promulgating the weekly as a medium which fights for its survival and prominence on free market principles. He had been a person with ideas, projections, and visions. These are the words that describe the essence of Mladenov, a courageous and relentless personality which had always criticized the actions of any government or any phenomenon. In his initial interviews with the journalists, he always asserted: “We oppose and criticize any government, no matter who is in power!”.
One could always witness his goodwill and wish for progress of the Macedonian society by the sternness of his articles. He hadn`t been dogmatic – he always accepted the opinions of others as long as they were supported by arguments. Almost every eminent Macedonian journalist was part of “Fokus” during those 20 years. Led by Mladenov, “Fokus” became an arena for debates about various policies, about various social, cultural and historical topics.
He was always open for discussions, his mind never took recess and he would always say “Let’s not turn back, let’s look forward!”, believing he was doing the right thing. His only dogma was “I work for truth, for justice”. Those were the only things he didn’t want to deliberate about. He believed, he knew, that he was on the right path. And that path had many hurdles. Mladenov was not a conformist who could have agreed to a compromise that would make his life more comfortable.
In fact, quite the contrary. He believed that he worked for better Macedonia, for better journalism for freer society… That was a resolution nobody could talk him off. His dream was to transform Fokus into a daily newspaper, something that eventually happened, thereby legitimizing his 30-year career with a media product which became a democratic imperative. The Fokus daily newspaper was yet another window that Mladenov opened to broaden both his and the horizons of the people he worked with and of the myriads of readers, as well.
Excerpt from the Encyclopedia by the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts:
Nikola Mladenov was born on 10th of March 1964 in Skopje. He blossomed as journalist during the collapse of the SFRY as the editor-in-chief of Mlad Borec, a journal of the SUYM, which opened its pages to subjects and personalities which were then blacklisted by the Macedonian journalism. Relinquishing the self-censorship and openly confronting the sins of the communist nomenclature in the previous decades, Mlad Borec gained preeminence of a harbinger of the democratic shifts in the SRM. In 1995 Mladenov founded “Fokus” an influential political weekly magazine in the Republic of Macedonia.
* This article was first published in the weekly “Fokus” on the 50th anniversary of Nikola Mladenov’s birth. Republishing this article to cherish the memory of our colleague, we accordingly changed the number 50 to 52 in the subtitle…