The people of Macedonia have taken to the streets in recent days, calling for the resignation of the country’s Prime Minister, creating yet another flashpoint in Eastern Europe. The protestors say they are outraged by evidence produced by opponents of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski purporting to show the government was involved in election fraud, mass surveillance of its citizens, and even framing opposition leaders for crimes as serious as murder.
Russian state-run media, however suggests a different reason: Western (read “U.S.”) meddling.
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With tens of thousands of Macedonians preparing to rally in the streets of the capital Skopje last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said publicly that the Russian government believes a recent gun battle between authorities and a group identified as “terrorists” as well as the wider unrest have causes outside Macedonia itself.
“Objectively speaking, the events in Macedonia are unfolding against the background of the government’s refusal to join the policy of sanctions against Russia and the vigorous support Skopje gave to the Turkish Stream gas pipeline project, which many people oppose, both in Brussels and across the ocean,” he said.
“So we can’t help but feeling that there is some sort of connection here,” Lavrov added.
A statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry said it had seen “convincing evidence … of attempts to push the country into the abyss of 'color revolution.'" The term “color revolutions” has been used to describe a number of popular uprisings across Eastern Europe in the past decade. There is also evidence, the Ministry said, “that Western organizers of such catastrophic scenarios prefer to realize them with the hands of others.”
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State-run Russian media has taken that storyline and is enthusiastically running with it.
“People Power or Western Meddling? Macedonia Unrest Reveals Differing Views” was the headline on Sputnik, the Kremlin’s international news service. Sputnik quoted Vladimir Pandovski, identified as a “Skopje-based political analyst” saying that “everyone” believes the massive protests are fake.
“Everything that is happening in Macedonia has been scripted and staged. We’ve seen this before; it’s a mix of comedy and tragedy. The so-called wiretapping scandal has been the biggest piece of comedy the public has ever seen… and honestly, no one is buying it – everyone is aware that this is an attempt to create a new Maidan, like in Ukraine.”
The “Maidan” is the central square in Kiev, where the protests that eventually led to the ouster of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych took place.
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Russia Today, another English language news site funded by the Kremlin, interviewed magazine editor Srdja Trifkovic, who asserted, “Washington and Brussels have been driving this sudden crisis in Macedonia all along.”
“[I]t’s quite obvious that this is a sustained regime change attempt dictated from Washington and Brussels, driven and financed from there,” Trifkovic said. “I think we are really witnessing just another episode in a long-term geopolitical battle between Washington and its pliant Brussels allies on the one side, and Russians on the other with Macedonians this time this time round being the collateral damage.”
In the same RT article, political analyst Aleksandar Pavic laid the fault on the U.S. alone. He pointed out that shortly after opposition leader Zoran Zaev started releasing the wiretap transcripts that launched the unrest, the U.S. made a statement appearing to support him.
“Just a short time afterwards you had Victoria Nuland’s deputy asking Macedonian government to give concessions to the opposition to negotiate with them, to even stand down,” said Pavic. “So you have American fingerprints all over this.”
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