Panko Brašnarov (1883 – 1951)

Panko Brašnarov was a Macedonian communist, politician, and revolutionary. His revolutionary and political activities started at the beginning of the 20th century in the Ottoman Empire, and carried on in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia where he was a member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. The character and work of Panko Brašnarov form an interesting micro-history of the first half of the 20th Century. His activities can explain the history of the revolutionary, nationalist, socialist and communist ideas that had formed and developed in the latter years of the Ottoman Empire, and the period after its collapse in Macedonia, Yugoslavia, and the Balkans in general.

Brašnarov was born in Veles in 1883, in the Ottoman Empire. He was an activist up until the beginning of WW2 and a member of various revolutionary organisations that had been representing the interests of small farmers, apprentices and workers, as well as struggling to form an autonomous and free Macedonia. Brašnarov joined the Communist Party of Yugoslavia from its inception, but his political ideas and projects that had the aim to unite Macedonian revolutionary and political forces, brought him in conflict with the Party. At the end of WW2, Brašnarov was an active participant in creating the Macedonian Republic, but he was soon demoted because of his work in the uniting of Macedonia in the framework of a wider communist international or Balkan federation, but also against the return of the Serb and Montenegrin colonists who had populated Vardar Macedonia at the end of WW1. Already on the wrong side of the Party establishment in 1948, he supported the Cominform Resolution and remained in favour of the ‘internationalist’ doctrine, considering the politics of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia as ‘opposing the internationalist essence.’ He considered it unacceptable that the Communist Party of Yugoslavia should separate from its orbit – or rather, from the Soviet Communist Party. After the Cominform Resolution he organised illegal groups against the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and formed an illegal canal for smuggling the Resolution’s supporters into Albania. At the end of 1950, Brašnarov was arrested in Skopje, under charges that he had committed a criminal act against the people and the state. After the local court had charged him with inventing and spreading false news and disturbing the peace of the citizens, he was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. He was sent to Goli Otok, where he died on 13 July 1951, exhausted by illness and inhumane treatment.