Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced this week that a vote in FYROM’s parliament that passes the country’s name change was rigged through a combination of blackmail, threats, and vote-buying by the United States.
FYROM’s parliament on Friday approved a proposal to change the country’s name to “North Macedonia”, bringing them a step closer to also being able to join NATO and the EU, which Moscow opposes.
The US State Department had urged the FYROM opposition to vote for the name change despite the failed referendum, which was rendered invalid due to the low turnout.
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer headed to Skopje on Monday to provide support to FYROM’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev after the close parliamentary vote.
Some opposition MPs decided to boycott the vote, standing at the side of the room instead of taking their seats, and the ruling coalition barely secured the required 80 out of 120 majority to push the measure through.
Russia believes the parliamentary vote was rigged, claiming that eight votes had been secured “through blackmail, and threatening and bribing opposition deputies”.
“We view what happened as an open violation of all norms, both from a legal and moral point of view. Such dirty manipulations cannot be regarded as an expression of parliamentarians’ will,” the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.