PEOPLE IN LERIN PROUD OF NIKOLAS GRUIOS
Macedonia Daily.org: PEOPLE IN LERIN PROUD OF NIKOLAS GRUIOS
Take a moment to read this interesting story about the background of Macedonian Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski. It's quite long, but worth reading!
At first we couldn’t believe what we were told by the residents of the village Krushoradi (Ahlada), Lerin Region, Aegean Macedonia when we went there for a visit. They told us that “Prime Minister Gruevski’s grandfather lived here. That’s where his house is, this is where he lived and there is where he is buried. You didn’t know that the Prime Minster’s roots are from Lerin Region?” said one of the residents. Of course we didn’t believe it, that’s why we came here, to find out for ourselves. The village was beautiful, clean, a quiet setting all surrounded by grass and beautiful green scenery.
When we approached another house one of the residents, pointing to a man in the yard washing his jeep said, “This is Prime Minister Gruevski’s second cousin, his name is Spiro Nikolaidis.”
“Is this true? Are you a relative of Prime Minister Gruevski?” I asked. “Yes, it is true,” he said.
He couldn’t speak Macedonian very well so we continued our conversation in English. He told us that Talo Gruevski, Prime Minister Gruevski’s father also lived in the village Krushoradi until he was nine years old at which point he moved to Skopje where he is to this day. Prime Minister Gruevski’s grandfather Nikola Gruios (or Kole Gruevski) however, spent his entire life in the village and after his death he was buried there. Nikola fought on the side of the Greek army against the Italians and was killed in 1939. Spiro also told us that Talo, the Prime Minister’s father comes here every year on August 15 but that he has never seen his second cousin. He was told that he visited there once when he was younger. The Gruevski house has always been empty but their relatives look after it.
Spiro took us to Nikola Gruios’s grave to assure us that indeed the Gruevski’s are truly part of this community. We found a large monument located about fifty meters away from the house and inscribed on it in Greek letters were the words “Nikolaos Grouios”.
Was this indeed our Prime Minister’s grandfather? We made inquiries at VMRO-DPMNE and they confirmed what we found, that our Prime Minister’s roots are indeed from Lerin Region and that both his grandfather and father are from there.
In spite of what the Greek government and Greek media think of him, the Krushoradi residents are very proud of Prime Minister Gruevski. Right after the Bucharest Summit, “Ta Nea” a Greek newspaper published a piece calling him “The Mean Boxer of Skopje”. Another newspaper highlighted the fact that Gruevski had roots from “Lerin the Greek City ”. According to another story published by “The Nea”, last year when Gruevski’s daughter was born he allegedly ordered the orchestra to play “Greek songs”.
On a different subject, we found out that last year vandals had damaged the memorial where 1,200 Partisans of the Democratic Army of Greece are buried and Macedonians from Aegean Macedonian organizations are suing the vandals for the damage.
Exploring the village Krushoradi we found that is has one of the richest coal mines in Lerin Region. There is the beautiful Spiridon Church which was built on top of the foundation of an old Macedonian school. We also found out that all the residents in this village speak Macedonian.
The churches in Lerin Region, we found, are very beautiful and peaceful as they stand quiet amidst lush green surroundings. One feels as if entering a holy temple in the middle of an oasis where one’s soul finds peace from the moment one enters. This is how we felt as visitors but I did not get the same impression about the locals. I can see that they pay attention to tradition; they celebrate Easter, paint eggs, fast; but are short on enthusiasm. I also noticed that when we made enquiries about visiting this community their reaction about our timing was lukewarm. They would have preferred that we come on May 1st or Ilinden. I had to inquire!
What we basically found out is that people here were not generally happy, especially with the Greek Church. They feel the Greek Church gets too involved in politics and tries to run peoples lives. “It is forcefully trying to turn us into Greeks,” said one person. “The Greek Church is too much involved in politics and tries to meddle in our lives,” said another. “When I baptized my daughter I wanted to call her Donka,” said one person “but the priest said no! It will have to be Domna because Donka is not a Greek name.”
“If the Church had its way it would even make Jesus Greek. This is why we are not enthusiastic about church, especially the men. This is also why we prefer to celebrate May 1st and Ilinden when a lot of people come and we have traditional music and dances.”
“No matter how it is, Easter is an important holiday for all Christians but not the way it is in this part…” said Pando Ashlakov (or Panaiotis Anastasiadis) from Ovchareni, without finishing his sentence.
The people here, including their neighbours who joined us, treated us very well with fat free bean soup for lunch, because of the fast, and traditional Macedonian music. So I had to make a comment, partly in jest, that “to an outsider all seems well here and you are lucky.” Unfortunately that was inappropriate for me to say.
“My daughter’s name in the documents is Domna, I am Aristisiadis. We are learning our mother tongue from the Macedonian radio and television. We have a dictatorship here, not a democracy. It is difficult to live in a state where only one ethnicity is recognized and it is not your ethnicity. Now you tell me how lucky are we?” a woman replied.
As a group we went to St. Georgija Church in Ovchareni where we met the Priest Panaioti. The church was half full but the priest assured us more would come, most men don’t arrive until past 8 pm . He also told us that our Easter traditions are almost identical to theirs. The priest knew this because he had been to Bitola and had performed liturgy there.
While we were there the local people told us a story about this church which has been circulating locally but had not been told to outsiders. The story is that the place where the church stands today, 15 years ago used to be a green field. About 15 years ago an older woman told us of a reoccurring dream she had of a church being buried under that field. When we tried to plough the field, our tractor kept stalling. So curious to see what was underneath, one day we decided to dig and low and behold we found the remnants of a beautiful church. We built this one right on top of it and it is our pride and joy.
It was evening now and time for us to go. These people looked after us for the past two days and it was time to let them get on with their preparation for the May 1st celebration.
As we were leaving this Good Friday we noticed the gray clouds above, gray among the lush green like the lives of the people we met here.
We soon arrived in the Republic of Macedonia which also was lush green, no different from the place we left in Lerin Region. The only obstacle in nature’s continuity here is this out of place border separating them.