четвъртък, 21 май 2015 г.

“A small war” that changed Kumanovo, Macedonia



























Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015 

A war-ravaged street “Tode Mendol” in the Albanian quarter of the town of Kumanovo is a sad reminder of the anti terrorist operation held in Macedonia two weeks ago. What happened then in the country’s second biggest town still raises more question that it provides answers. What was proclaimed by the Gruevski’s government as a strike against dangerous terror unit has led to the destruction of tens of houses with hundreds of people left homeless or lost their small businesses. Now all the rooftops in the neighbourhood look like giant craters, with large hole in walls and the smelt of burnt still lingering through the street. A row of smashed and burnt vehicle outside homes is another sad sign of how tense the attack on the neighbourhood was. “My whole family of 12 was in the house when the attack began. We managed to hide in the cellar but then all of a sudden I  realized that the house above us is on fire. We somehow succeeded in running into the street with our hand held high to show them we were not criminals. Thank god all my loved ones are alive”, an old man says. He is adamant that there are no terrorist in Kumanovo and the Albanian population is not interested in insurgencies and creating ethnical tension. One of his neighbours has lost his small barbershop and is now determined to move out of the town in search of ways to make a living. “What happened to Kumanovo is politicians’ fault. Now I am homeless, my shop I worked so hard to build is destroyed. No place for me here any more”, the man says. Everyone in the street compare their recent experience to a small war. According to the official date 8 policemen and 14 terrrorist were killed during the operation. But the questioned no one has answered so far is how the supposed terrorist managed to get into civilians’ houses. People in Kumanovo are convinced that the state will help them repair their damaged homes but they are not so optimistic when asked when would that happen. “In 2-3 years”, they reply. 
 Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015

Meanwhile people in the capital Skopie are convinced that the attack of Kumanovo was orchestrated by the government in an attempt to move the attention from the protests. The capital lives a life of pro and anti government protests. But what most of them agree on is that Gruevski and his cabinet owe some explanations of what happened in Kumanovo and how it is going to be justified.

 Photo by © Hristo Rusev/Nur Photo Agency/ 2015

A war-ravaged street “Tode Mendol” in the Albanian quarter of the town of Kumanovo is a sad reminder of the anti terrorist operation held in Macedonia a week ago. What happened then in the country’s second biggest town still raises more question that it provides answers. What was proclaimed by the Gruevski’s government as a strike against dangerous terror unit has led to the destruction of tens of houses with hundreds of people left homeless or lost their small businesses.According to the official date 8 policemen and 14 terrrorist were killed during the operation. But the questioned no one has answered so far is how the supposed terrorist managed to get into civilians’ houses. People in Kumanovo are convinced that the state will help them repair their damaged homes but they are not so optimistic when asked when would that happen. “In 2-3 years”, they reply.

  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev/Nur Photo Agency/ 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev/Nur Photo Agency/ 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
 Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev/Nur Photo Agency/ 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
 Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev/Nur Photo Agency/ 2015
 Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev/Nur Photo Agency/ 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev/Nur Photo Agency/ 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev/Nur Photo Agency/ 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev/Nur Photo Agency/ 2015
  Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
 Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015

Photos by © Hristo Rusev 2015
©Nur Photo Agency 
All Rights Reserved!!!

неделя, 10 май 2015 г.

Shoot me and you are dead. A walk through Republica - Снимаш ли ме, умираш



AUTHOR MILLENA MIHOVA       PHOTOGRAPHER HRISTO RUSEV







       



















 
  A coulee turned into a wasteland shelters more than 300 hundred people in the South Bulgarian town of Haskovo. Creeping out from under the piles of colourful garbage and dirt are the residents of Republica. They are shabby men, women and children widely regarded as roma but convinced in their Turkish origins. Most of them inhabit huts made of mud bricks or wood without running water and often without electricity too. It comes as a surprise to many that the population of this poverty stricken ghetto plays a decisive role in winning or losing every election held in the town for years. Poverty has taught the residents of Republica that everything in life comes at a price, including the vote. “We do sell our vote. It is too tempting not to. When the Election Day approaches all the big parties send their people here. And the buying begins”, says the street trader Ahmed. Unemployed for years he has been making a living from what the Bulgarians call “suitcase trade”.  At least once a week he  travels to the near by Turkish town of Edirne where he buys small amount of  food such as rice, pasta and sweets that he later sells in the streets of Republica. 

Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015

  Because of the state of the building emergency teams often are reluctant to come to the place when called for sick patient. “They are scared as if we are not human! We are forced to take care of our sick relatives alone. And sometimes we drag them to the hospital on foot. Can you imagine how painful that can be?”, argues the 41 year old Nefize.
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015

“All the parties choose locals as their vote dealers in the ghetto. How to recognize them?! That’s easy. Look for people who made a fortune overnight.”, the trader explains. “Dealers are greedy; they tend to keep part of the money for themselves. For example if their boss wants them to give each voter 50 leva / 25 euro/, they give just 20 leva /10 euro/ and keep the rest to themselves.”, he adds.  Usually the payment is done after the elections when the results are announced. It turns out that dealers choose small local coffee shops to make payment. “People wait in a queue to get their money. It is a funny little sum, but still better than nothing”, Ahmed tells.  

Most people in Republica are used to the life of unemployment and on benefits. “Bulgaria is for the Bulgarians. No place for us. They often tell me – we can’t give you work because you have no education. To which I reply – we can’t all be doctors, can we?! I have studied to 8th grade only.”, 39 year old Zeyneb says.  

The only business that is blooming in the ghetto is the illegal cigarettes trade. Dare to take a walk through the coulee and the near by streets and you will get tens of offers for cheap cigarettes. Shopping in the ghetto is twice as cheaper as it is in the regular tobacco kiosks in town. And slowly but surely this illegal trade is replacing social benefits as the main source of incomes for the locals. 

Despite the regular police crackdowns in the ghetto the cigarette business persists. Amongst its clients are people from wealthiest parts of the town. They often purchase the illegal packs straight through their fancy cars’ windows. Not everyone in Republica though is brave enough to get involved in the illegal tobacco trade. But those who are are often hostile towards journalists. “Shoot me and you are dead”, shouts a man in his 20’s at the sight of the camera. The Mayor, this is how he is referred to by everyone in the neighbourhood. The Mayor is quick to take shelter in one of the near by huts. 

Another young man, Erdjan /22/ is not so camera shy. “All we want is for the council to take care of our homes. Look at the misery we live in!”, he says. Erdjan inhabits one of the concrete flat buildings in the ghetto. The place under the number of 42 is owned by the Municipality of Haskovo. It is notorious for its basements filled up with fecal waters, its entrance where animals are being slaughtered and for its stolen concretes staircases between the floors. When asked whose fault it was, Erdjan replies: “Why should it be ours!?”. Because of the state of the building emergency teams often are reluctant to come to the place when called for sick patient. “They are scared as if we are not human! We are forced to take care of our sick relatives alone. And sometimes we drag them to the hospital on foot. Can you imagine how painful that can be?”, argues the 41 year old Nefize. For the past 8 years the woman has been working as a cleaner in a London restaurant. Her monthly wage is around 800 pounds, just enough to pay for the place she is staying at and buy her food. “I would love to come back home for good and work for so much less. But there is no job here. We are doomed if we stay”, she explains. 

“I would sell my vote. I’m just waiting for the right offer. I have struggled without anything for much too long. I have got two kids to take care of”, tells Nefize’s neighbour. Her greatest fear is that the mud brick hut she calls home will be destroyed by the municipality and she and her children will be placed into a council estate flat where she will have to pay rent. 

 Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
 Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
 Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
 Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
 Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
 Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
 Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
 Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015
Photo by © Hristo Rusev 2015

Despite the high level of unemployment most of the families in the ghetto continue to raise three or more children. Most of the youngsters go to school for fear of their parent being left without social benefits. Amongst a few who have given up education is 14 year old Nebie. “Boys were teasing me. They wanted to get married so I quit. I don’t miss it”, explains the girl. Many mothers in the ghetto claim they know exactly what she is talking about. Each day at noon the local school is occupied by parents waiting for their daughters. All of them are driven by the fear of early marriages. 
“People here deserve better. They just don’t get that many chances. I was lucky to go and work in Germany. But not everyone is like that. “, says the father of 3 Rasim Ismail who is just preparing a special dinner for the birth of his youngest child. His neighbour Rosa considers herself not so lucky. “I have a sick husband to look for so I can’t go anywhere. I am tired of being lied to by the politicians. I won’t vote again. If the politicians decide to come to the ghetto, let them feel warned that I don’t want them anywhere near me. I can’t stand them anymore.”


Text by © Millena Mihova 2015
Photos By © Hristo Rusev 2015
All Rights Reserved!!!