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Harassing diplomats is regular intelligence business from Moscow to Macedonia


       
Washington/Skopje, 9 January, 2017 - 12:39 (META) 

Diplomats from the United States, staff in the embassies and their families in Moscow and in several other European countries in the past period have been targets of harassment and intimidation as part of an organized campaign orchestrated and systematically implemented by the Russian Intelligence and Security Services, reported in June the prestigious American newspaper the “Washington Post“.

Recently, in our country “obituaries” appeared of current and former ambassadors. They are just part of the widespread harassment and intimidation. Their fellow diplomats in Russia and Europe are exposed systemically to it as well. They have been complaining of a series of strange, but also very serious harassment cases by representatives of the Russian secret services.

According to correspondence between ambassadors from the United States sent to Washington, some of the harassment was “routine”:

  • Following diplomats or members of their families;
  • Uninvited persons appearing at events organized by them;
  • Journalists were paid to write negative articles about them;
  • Members of the Russian security services forcefully entering their homes at night, they would change all the furniture around or they would leave all the lights and televisions on;
  • One diplomat reported that an intruder left his the content of his bowels of the carpet in the living room of his apartment;
  • Diplomats reported slashed tires of their cars;
  • Constant harassment by traffic police.
  • The situation, as the American newspaper reports went so far that the Secretary of State, John Kerry, had to intervene to Russian President Vladimir Putin demanding that the harassment and intimidation immediately stop.

The harassment of US diplomats is not a new phenomenon, but such cases were reported during Barack Obama’s first presidential term, when members of Russian intelligence had broken into the house of the attaché of Defense in Moscow and killed his dog. Harassment, intimidation and surveillance of American diplomats in Moscow by the Russian security services and traffic police became more frequent especially after Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine in 2014 and the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, writes the “Washington Post”.

In the past two days between the US and Russia diplomatic confrontation is strife, which is very reminiscent of the Cold War. US outgoing President Barack Obama’s administration decided to expel 35 Russian diplomats from the United States for allegedly hacking into websites and emails from the Democratic Party USA, but also in response to a campaign of harassment of American diplomats in Russia. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately asked for an identical countermeasure, which President Vladimir Putin has not accepted and decided not to expel US diplomats from Russia.

In the last few years, ambassadors to Macedonia also received frequent threats, especially those actively involved and mediates negotiations between the political parties in the country to find a solution out of the political crisis.

Negative articles in the pro-government media against the diplomatic corps are common, but there have been certain events that literally activated alarms in embassies.

On September 15, just hours after the Special Prosecutor’s Office announced that they had filed their first two charges, the police unit for first response and interventions “Alpha” on the orders of the head of the unit, Ivica Anchevski – Puki, held a practise drill before the US Embassy – A simulated response in case of a terrorist attack, without informing the embassy, which he said was normal procedure in such a case. The presence of two dozen members of a “Alfa” police unit near the embassy, led to the activation of the US security protocols and instructions for employees to move away from windows and take refuge, and the sound system repeatedly stating, “This is not a drill”.

After the election on December 11, and just days after the speech of the President of VMRO-DPMNE, Nikola Gruevski, which he announced the proclamation of the Executive Committee of the party, and among other things he said that some ambassadors had started to interfere in the internal politics of country and that it must stop. On the website “Imgur”, ‘obituaries’ appeared with photographs of current and former ambassadors in Macedonia. Parties including VMRO-DPMNE condemned the photos, but so far, none of the relevant institutions or the Public Prosecutor’s Office have not released information concerning the case.

Previously, Erwan Fouéré, the former EU Ambassador to Macedonia, was exposed to constant verbal abuse. However, even today he reports with critical views on the current political situation in Macedonia.

His successor, Aivo Orav, at the session of the Parliamentary Committee on European Affairs and the National Council for European Integration said he had to increase security because “large part of the media led an intensified campaign against European representatives”.

The mediator in the negotiations between the parties for the Przino Agreement, Belgian national, Peter Vanhoutte from the ruling party was declared “persona non grata” and was told that he could only stay in the country as a “tourist”.