For the third time this month, in an interview, Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski spoke about the Russian meddling in North Macedonia’s internal affairs. In the latest issue of Fokus weekly magazine, Pendarovski reveals there is a lot of information by authorities about people arriving to cause provocations at the recent civil protests, but also for financing “certain political subjects.”
“All state institutions know that Russia is meddling in our internal affairs. The last time it was with intensive participation of its people, its political subjects, and its installations. We have people arriving from the neighborhood who are Russian agents i.e. people working for the Russian service. I can’t publicly reveal the country from where they are coming since this is sensitive information but the Russians with these so-called hybrid threats, through political propaganda are making efforts to establish spheres of influence,” said President Pendarovski.
He said he finds it odd because only several days after the Russian invasion in Ukraine, the parliamentary political party Levica summoned the Russian Ambassador at the Parliament and awarded him for his contribution to bilateral relations, which didn’t happened in any other European parliament.
The interview with President Stevo Pendarovski was published less than 3 weeks after the interview he spoke for the Greek newspaper Ethnos where he stated that Russia is producing the most serious hybrid threats against the Balkans, including political propaganda and disinformation campaigns.
“More precise, in North Macedonia, the complexity and the intensity of hybrid threats are similar to those that happened in 2018 in the period when the referendum happened about the name,” said President Pendarovski during the violent protests that were happening in Skopje in the first half of July this year.
Pendarovski gave a similar statement on TV21’s TV show “Klik Plus” when he said that the security situation in the country is worsening. At the start of July, he shared information that he received from security services that the Russian Federation is misusing the protests and has infiltrated several people from neighboring countries that are trying to provoke incidents.
President Pendarovski’s public warnings about Russian meddling in Macedonia’s internal affairs come during the period when even the Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov in an interview for the British newspaper Times announced there was opposition on part of Russia to lifting the Bulgarian veto for the start of North Macedonia’s EU accession negotiations.
“Russia exerted its influence on both sides of the border,” said Prime Minister Petkov, stating there were coordinated activities in both North Macedonia and Bulgaria.
“We saw coordinated activities, when our nationalists came out with initiatives in the media before our cultural center in North Macedonia was set on fire,” said Prime Minister Kiril Petkov.