The lead complainant listed is ECPMF board member Naser Selmani, president of the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM).
Selmani told the ECPMF that he was covering the parliamentary session for the Vest daily newspaper. His colleagues also involved in the case were working for other Macedonian news outlets: Natasha Stojanovska (Alsat-M channel), Snezana Lupevska (Channel 5), Toni Angelovski, (Den daily newspaper), and Frosina Fakova and Biljana Bogdanovska (Makfax news agency).
Approval of the state budget was being hotly debated in the chambers, and members of the parliament (MPs) began acting aggressively on the occasion. Security intervened and threw out parliamentarians as well as journalists.
The ECtHR in its judgement “reiterated the crucial role of the media as public watch-dog, and particularly in situations such as in the applicants’ case where the authorities had had to handle disorderly behaviour of MPs during a Parliamentary session".
The Macedonian state budget for 2013 had been a controversial and highly publicised issue: It forecast a deficit in the thick of a recession, riling opposition members. The reporters were in the designated area for the press in “the parliament gallery”, while groups of people rioted outside parliament as approval of the budget was underway.
Suddenly, tensions and aggressions also erupted inside the parliamentary chamber.
“The strained atmosphere culminated in a group of MPs creating a disturbance,” the ECtHR press release describes. “They surrounded the Speaker, slapped his table, prevented access to the podium and started damaging technical equipment. The Speaker, who had been pulled out of the chamber, ordered security to restore order.”
It was at that point that trouble started for the plaintiffs. Security “forcibly ejected opposition MPs”, and then also began to expel journalists from their designated reporting area. When the plaintiffs refused to leave, security guards began to physically remove them.