Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, in an interview with “BuzzFeed News”, said pro-Russian businessmen are trying to stop the country from joining NATO by paying for violent protests.
Zoran Zaev said his government has received multiple reports that “Greek businessmen” who are “sympathetic to the Russian cause” paid Macedonians amounts ranging from $13,000 to $21,000 to “commit acts of violence” ahead of the crucial referendum later this year that will determine whether the Balkan state will be able to join the military alliance.
“The Russian representatives who were here, and also others from Moscow, [don’t] hide themselves that they are against our integration in NATO. Part of them are connected with media, part of them … encourage the young people to protest in front of the parliament, to attack policemen … It’s very obvious”, Zaev said.
Zaev declined to name who was behind the payments, citing an ongoing investigation and the sensitivities of diplomatic relations surrounding the country’s bid for NATO membership. He said that police learned of the payments after detaining several participants in violent protests outside parliament in June.