The Prime Minister of FYROM, Zoran Zaev, claims his government has received multiple reports that “Greek businessmen” who are “sympathetic to the Russian cause” paid FYROM citizens to “commit acts of violence” ahead of a referendum scheduled for later this year on whether the Balkan country should change its name so it can join NATO.
During an interview with Buzzfeeed, Zaev said his government has received multiple reports that “Greek businessmen” who are “sympathetic to the Russian cause” paid his citizens amounts ranging from $13,000 to $21,000 to “commit acts of violence” ahead of a crucial referendum later this year that will determine whether the Balkan state will be able to join the military alliance.
Buzzfeed cited him as saying that police learned of the payments after detaining several participants in violent protests outside FYROM’s parliament in June.
His claims come a few days after Greece expelled two Russian diplomats, citing evidence that they had sought to influence protests against the name deal between Athens and Skopje.
“The Russian representatives who were here, and also others from Moscow, don’t hide themselves that they are against our integration in NATO,” Zaev said. “Part of them are connected with the media, part of them encourage young people to protest in front of the parliament, to attack policemen. This is very obvious.”