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Russia has stepped up its activities in the Balkans, where several countries of the Peninsula declared its desire to join NATO.
The Kremlin is using the Russian secret services and diplomats as well as local Pro-Russian politicians, trying to prevent the accession of Macedonia and other Balkan countries in NATO and to create in the Balkans a “belt of neutral countries”. This is stated in dozens of secret reports of the Macedonian counter-intelligence, which an anonymous source from the government of Macedonia gave the journalists the international consortium of Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP),
These documents are compiled on the basis of listening of telephone negotiations of Russian diplomats and the Russian and the Serbian intelligence services, surveillance of stories and sources .
They say that Russia has stepped up its activities in the Balkans, where several countries of the Peninsula declared its desire to join NATO. Montenegro on 5 June, will become a full-fledged member of NATO, and Macedonia and Bosnia have the status of candidate countries for accession to the bloc.
In a report to the head of the security Service and counterintelligence of Macedonia Vladimir Atanasovski says that in the past nine years, the country is “under the influence of strong and destructive propaganda, and the activities of intelligence services, which is implemented through the Embassy of the Russian Federation”. In particular, the honorary Consulate of the Russian Federation in the Macedonian cities of Bitola and Ohrid act as a reconnaissance base.
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“Russia uses the methods of the so-called “soft power” as part of a strategy to isolate the Balkans from the influence of the West… in addition, Russian foreign policy is close cooperation with the energy strategy, the aim of which is to obtain control over the strategic energy resources of the country”, — stated in the report.
The Macedonian counter-intelligence agents believe that the ultimate goal of this plan is to “make Macedonia is fully dependent on Russian policy.”
On the implementation of this strategy in Macedonia there are three officer of the foreign intelligence Service of the Russian Federation, which manages the headquarters, located in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, and four employees of the Main intelligence Directorate of the Russian Federation with the headquarters in the capital of Bulgaria Sofia. Their activities are coordinated by the Russian Embassy in Skopje, capital of Macedonia.
To operations as intelligence agents also attracted correspondents of Russian state Agency TASS and representatives of Rossotrudnichestvo.
For many years, the Russian agents had been recruiting former and current employees of the Macedonian army and police to “create a critical mass of people with military training at the right political moment to use them in the Russian interests,” reads the report.
In addition, representatives of Russia tried to influence editorial policy and offered money for the Macedonian media, especially supporting the Albanian minority in order to promote the Russian policy in the country.
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The methods of “soft power” Macedonian counterintelligence include numerous cultural initiatives of the Russian Embassy.
“Russia promotes the idea of pan-Slavic identity and the common Orthodox faith,” – said in the documents. Russian Embassy in Macedonia in recent years has initiated about 30 “of the Association of friendship”, it also sponsors the construction of Orthodox churches throughout the country.
In one of the reports of counterintelligence retold conversation of April 7 this year, the Russian Ambassador to Macedonia Oleg Shcherbak and employee of the foreign Ministry of this country.
Shcherbak admits to a colleague that is “creating a strip of neutral countries in the Balkans” — Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia.
The Russian Ambassador also expressed complaints about the lack of support for Russian policy in Macedonia. Shcherbak admitted that if the Macedonian authorities do not start to publicly support the Kremlin, it will lead to the curtailment of economic and diplomatic cooperation.
Macedonian intelligence agencies believe that the joint actions of Russia and Serbia has led to complex political crisis in Macedonia. The country erupted into a confrontation between the main parties which ended in riots in Parliament. The political crisis added ethnic differences with the Albanian minority.