A campaign to boycott of the referendum is headed by the Pro-Russian party.
Diplomats and analysts warn that Russia is waging a covert propaganda campaign to disrupt the referendum in Macedonia, which will pave the way for the country’s accession to the EU and NATO, reports The Telegraph journalist Nick Squire.
A referendum on renaming the country into Northern Macedonia, allowing a confrontation with Greece, will take place on Sunday. According to the Macedonian organization Lab Investigative Reporting in recent weeks on Twitter and Facebook there were thousands of fake accounts with the hashtag #Bojkotiram – “boycott”. “Apparently, the goal is to reduce the turnout in the referendum is below 50% of the eligible voters, with the result that he does not have legal force,” says Squire.
“The chances are almost equal,” – said the author. A recent poll showed that 57% of respondents plan to vote for, but on the streets of Skopje, many say they are not sure whether to participate. Some fake accounts trying to foment disagreements between the Slavic majority and Albanian minority, which makes up approximately 25% of the population. “The vast majority of ethnic Albanians support this proposal and consider EU membership a means of tackling poverty and discrimination. However, it is unpopular among those ethnic Slavs who bitterly resents because of the need to change the name of the country at the behest of Greece. In 2001, the tension between them resulted in armed conflict,” says Squire. “Russia is doing everything possible to prevent the accession of West new countries”, – said the Director of European programs at the Washington Center for strategic and international studies Heather Conley.
“In Macedonia, it involves the use of existing weaknesses, such as tensions between ethnic Slavs and ethnic Albanians. Used a combination of misinformation and economic influence to support the nationalist organizations and politicians, she said. – The aim was to create total confusion and to force the West to look as blighted and dysfunctional”.
“Last month the virus was a fake news that us military exercises in Macedonia used shells with depleted uranium,” writes Squire. According to the Minister of defence of Radmila Shekerinska, the message was intended to weaken the credibility of NATO and undermine the referendum. In July, Athens has expelled two Russian diplomats. They were accused of trying to inflame in Greece protest against the agreement with Macedonia.
Prime Minister of Macedonia Zoran Zaev was accused of living in Greece Russian oligarch to Finance radical nationalistic groups and football hooligans with the aim of fomenting the protests. “The Kremlin continues to direct his army of Internet trolls on the bombing of the social networks in both countries, propaganda against the agreement. Disseminating hate propaganda and funding a brutal demonstration that Russia is actively fueling the ethnic conflicts that, unfortunately, remain a powerful force in Balkan politics,” wrote recently a former employee of the Obama administration, analyst of the Center for diplomacy and global engagement Biden’s name at the University of Pennsylvania Michael carpenter.
An employee of the Atlantic Council Evelyn Farkas wrote that the campaign to boycott the referendum is headed by the Pro-Russian party “United Macedonia” has concluded a partnership with the “United Russia”. While the Prime Minister of Macedonia hopes for a positive outcome of the vote, the President is against the agreement with Greece.
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