Analysis 12 Jun 17

Russian Meddling in Balkans ‘a Matter of Supply and Demand’

The findings of a media investigation detailing the extent of Russian involvement in Macedonia’s political crisis – direct and via Belgrade and Sofia - have been supported by regional analysts but downplayed by local politicians.

Mariya Cheresheva, Maya Zivanovic
BIRN
Sofia, Belgrade
Macedonian President George Ivanov with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Photo: kremlin.ru

The publication of a media investigation revealing Macedonian counterintelligence documents allege Russian agents and diplomats have been actively interfering in the country’s politics in order to isolate it from Western influence has sparked a heated debate among political observers in Macedonia and the rest of the Balkans.

According to the investigation, published on June 2 by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, NOVA TV and the Crime and Corruption Reporting Network, Russian intelligence activities have been carried out by three agents from Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, SVR, overseen by a station in the Serbian capital Belgrade.

The report also claims four agents from the military Main Intelligence Agency, GRU, have also been active and were coordinated from the Bulgarian capital Sofia.

The Russian foreign ministry dismissed the allegations on June 5 as “nothing but another clumsy attempt to shift responsibility for bringing about a profound crisis of the Macedonian state’’.

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