The Macedonian Government Clamps Down on Filming Protests With Drones

Image tweeted by @Nav_urov. Photo from a drone flying above the massive December 10 student protests.

Image tweeted by @Nav_urov. Photo from a drone flying above the massive December 10 student protests.

The Republic of Macedonia has issued a new regulation banning the use of drones up to 500 meters from government buildings, public gatherings and protests. 

Drone-made videos and photos on social media were instrumental in demonstrating the size of a recent massive student protest, which received barely any media coverage, but has been called the largest student protest in Macedonia in 25 years of independence. On December 10, 2014, thousands of students and university professors took to the streets to say no to a government plan for state-supervised tests for graduates.

The pro-government Dnevnik daily wrote a report about the new regulation, which has been in effect since January 31, but has yet to be posted online on any relevant government website.

„Не може да се вршат операции на летала без екипаж под 150 метри во секоја населено област, под 50 метри растојание од секое лице, брод, возило или инфраструктура…“, стои во уредбата.

Притоа се забранува дронот да се насочува кон лица, животни или собир на луѓе.

„Не може да лета летало без екипаж во радиус од 500 метри од објектите од значење за безбедноста, објектите на државните органи и критични народни маси, како што се објектите на Министерството за одбрана и АРМ, објектите на МВР, Владата, Собранието, резиденцијата на претседателот на државата, дипломатските претставништва, високоризични натпревари и голем собир на луѓе (протести)“, стои во уредбата.

“It is not allowed to operate unmanned aircraft under 150 meters above any inhabited are, under 50 meters of distance from any person, ship, vehicle or infrastructure,” the regulation reads.

It also forbids pointing the drone towards persons, animals or gatherings of people.

According to the regulation: “It is not allowed to fly unmanned aircraft in a radius of 500 meters from building related to security, buildings of state bodies and critical masses of people, such as the buildings of Ministry of Defense and the Army of Republic of Macedonia, buildings of the Ministry of Interior, the Government, the Assembly, the residence of the President of the state, embassies, sport competitions of high risk, and big gatherings of people (protests).”

Student Plenum, the organizers of the December 10 protest claim that a drone camera operator was detained by the police. There is no public record for how long or on what charges.

The boy with the drone has been detained in the Karposh police station. The pressure continues but they won't stop us. This is just the beginning!

Two years ago, tens of thousands of Macedonians took to the streets to protest against poverty and corruption in their country of two-million. Since then, different groups of people – students, teachers, residents and workers – have come out to protest, demanding better conditions and rights. The government has used various tactics to discourage media coverage of protests, including intimidating journalists

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