The Municipality of Centar hasn’t removed the board with the name of the Ukrainian town of Sevastopol from the Russian-themed children’s playground behind the Universal Hall in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia.
The municipal authorities also don’t have a clue who and why removed the board with the name of the Ukrainian town that was located between the name boards for Russian cities.
“So far, we haven’t received any information about who removed the board from the playground,” said the Municipality of Centar for Meta.mk.
Regarding the information who financed the construction of the Russian-themed children’s playground, the municipal authorities said that most of the assets (over €40,000 or more than 90% of the total sum) have arrived from the local authorities i.e. Municipality of Centar’s annual budget budget. The Russian embassy in Skopje has participated with only MKD150,000 or around €2,500.
“The Municipality of Centar financed the playground’s reconstruction with the amount of MKD2,481,928, and the Embassy of the Russian Federation participated with an additional MKD150,000,” said the Municipality of Centar for Meta.mk.
The local authorities also said that the Decision for the playground’s reconstruction is evidenced in the Annual program of the Sector for regulating property development and land use in the Municipality of Centar. The same program was submitted to the Council and was approved by the members of the Council of Centar’s in the previous mandate.
The Municipality of Centar stressed that regarding the city of Sevastopol’s legal status, it completely supports the decisions made by the Government of North Macedonia and the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
On the 31st of January last year, the Macedonian Minister of Foreign Afairs, Bujar Osmani, during the meeting with the Russian Ambassador in Skopje, Sergei Bazdnikin, repeated the stance that North Macedonia respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. A political support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity arrived several days later from Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski, who met with NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the 3rd of February.
The Russian-themed children playground has caused a diplomatic scandal in this country since a board containing the Ukrainian city Sevastopol was put inside of it. It’s the biggest city in the Crimea peninsula in the Black sea, which was annexed by the Russian Federation and there is a dispute about the violation of the international law and Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
In October last year, former Mayor Sasha Bogdanovic announced and the Russian Embassy in Skopje confirmed that the Russian-themed children playground was jointly financed by the municipality of Centar and the Russian Embassy in Skopje.
Before New Year’s Eve, Meta.mk contacted the Ukrainian Embassy in Skopje which confirmed that it has sent a reaction to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the City Hall of Skopje because of the board with the name Sevastopol.
“The Ambassador of Ukraine in North Macedonia, Ms. Nataliya Zadoroznyuk had several meetings at the MFA, where she expressed her stance against the unacceptable participation of North Macedonia’s officials, especially the Municipality of Centar’s leadership, in an effort of the Russian side to legalize the status of the temporarily occupied territories of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as a special subject of the Russian Federation,” stated the Ukrainian embassy.
The Embassy stated that the MFA has confirmed North Macedonia’s firm support of Ukraine’s integrity and sovereignty and that the issue will be solved by the MFA.
Until the publication of this article, Meta.mk didn’t receive any answer neither from the City of Skopje nor the MFA, about the questions regarding the Russian-themed playground.
In the past period, there were almost daily public reactions from the Ukrainian and the Russian Embassies in Skopje, where statements by official state officials from both countries are issued about potential new Russian assault on Ukraine.