– Woman Dies Near Skopje Amid Record Cold (Balkan Insight, Feb.15, 2012):
A woman was found dead at her home near Skopje on Wednesday morning, as temperatures in the capital dropped to a record low of minus 22 degrees Celsius.
The body of Radmila Stojcevska, 52, was found frozen at her house in the village of Mrshevci. According to initial police reports, the sickly and bed-bound woman died after being without firewood overnight.
Her death added to a political row over the real number of cold-related deaths in the country.
Some media, citing opposition claims, reported Stojcevska as the third person to die because of the cold since Monday. But the authorities insisted that they had not registered anyone dying from the extreme temperatures in recent days.
On Tuesday, the mayor of the Skopje municipality of Karposh, Stevce Jakimovski, accused the government of trying to cover up the cold-related deaths of two homeless people in the capital.
“[The death] of those two elderly people should be attributed to the Labor Minister [Spiro Ristovski] …who has left hundreds out in the cold,” Jakimovski, who is a member of the opposition Social Democrats, told local news media.
In a reaction on Wednesday, Ristovski accused the mayor of “brutal lying” and insisted that the people in question are in fact alive and well after receiving medical treatment.
“He pronounced living people dead and called me responsible,” said Ristovski, saying he would launch legal action.
After enduring heavy snowfall this weekend, Macedonia enjoyed clearer weather on Monday and Tuesday but the cold temperatures remained. Meteorologists forecast slightly warmer conditions accompanied by rain and snow for the end of this week.
The cold snap across much of central and eastern Europe has claimed hundreds of lives. In the Balkans, Romania has the biggest death toll, which on Wednesday climbed to 74 people.