North Macedonia’s small opposition Left party has drawn blistering criticism for supporting Russia’s view of the war in Ukraine and parroting its terminology about a ‘special military operation’.

North Macedonia’s Left Condemned for Aligning with Russia on Ukraine

Russian ambassador to North Macedonia Sergey Bazdnikin [second from the left] with Left MPs Dimitar Apasiev [third from left] and Borislav Krmov [right]. Photo: Levica

Civil activists and mainstream political parties in North Macedonia have condemned the two MPs of the small parliamentary Left party, who met the Russian ambassador to Skopje, used Moscow’s pet terminology to describe the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and accused their own Foreign Minister of being a “Russophobe”.

“Left is increasingly displaying that it is not part of the democratic processes in the country,” the spokesperson of the main ruling Social Democrats, Bogdanka Kuzevska, said on Thursday.

The Left’s two MPs in the 120-seat parliament, party leader Dimitar Apasiev and Borislav Krmov, met the Russian ambassador, Sergey Bazdnikin, on Wednesday, after which they described the meeting as “heartfelt”.

A press release stated that they had discussed Russia’s “special military operation”, a Russian expression for the invasion, and its consequences on the world order.

In another display of parroting Kremlin words, the press release added that the accent of the meeting had been on “the denazification and elimination of the threats from the extreme-right and radical neo-Nazi political movements, which pose danger for every modern democracy”.

[Russia claims it invaded Ukraine to “de-Nazify” it]

The ruling Social Democrats also called on the main opposition VMRO DPMNE party, who late last year allied with Left and with other smaller parties in an unsuccessful attempt to vote no-confidence to the government, to distance itself from the party, which VMRO DPMNE has not yet done.

However, another partner in the opposition front that in late 2021 tried to topple the government, the ethnic Albanian BESA [Oath] party, did explicity distance itself.

“We have nothing in common with Left’s positions, bar the fact that we are also an opposition party. We condemn the Russian aggression and support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine”, BESA MP Fadil Zendeli told the media.

Besides parroting Russian propaganda, Left head and MP Apasiev also accused North Macedonia’s Foreign Minister, Bujar Osmani, of being a “Russophobe”. Neither Osmani nor the Foreign Ministry commented on the allegation.

The Left is the only parliamentary party in North Macedonia that has openly aligned itself with Russia over the war in Ukraine

Following the invasion, North Macedonia’s parliament voted to condemn the Russian attack, a move that garnered wide support across the political spectrum.

The country has also backed EU sanctions against Moscow and the Defence Ministry has said that, as a NATO member, the country would join efforts to offer military aid to Ukraine.

As a result, Russia put North Macedonia on its now expanded list of hostile countries.

Civil activists also expressed outrage regarding Left’s moves and words. The head of the Skopje-based NGO, CIVIL-Center for Freedom, Xhabir Deralla, wrote in a column on Thursday that the party’s move was cynical and insulting.

“Apasiev’s attitude towards the public is insulting, especially towards the members and voters of this party that calls itself ‘Left’. If it’s not a joke, then the servile attitude of a party called Left toward an ambassador of a country whose leader wants to resurrect tsarism, is very strange,” Deralla noted, adding that “there is nothing leftist” in this move.

The former head of the country’s Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Mirjana Najcevska, who recently became a member of the small non-parliamentary “Your Party “, said that the two Left MPs should face scrutiny under the law, which treats the “approval or justification of a genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes” as a crime.

“Those who use information platforms to publically deny, harshly minimise, approve and justify the actions [described] in articles 403 to 407 [of criminal law], are to be punished with one to five years in jail. This should be applied to all platforms, individuals and especially to political party leaders,” Najcevska said.

While North Macedonia’s political elites and public have found numerous ways of showing solidarity with Ukraine, by collecting aid, organising rallies and expressing readiness to shelter refugees, last Saturday several dozen participants rallied to express support for Russia in front of the Russian embassy.

Participants carried banners saying: “Macedonians are your [Russia’s] brothers” and suggesting that the protests in Ukraine that toppled the oldf pro-REussian leadership were staged by the CIA.

At the same time, the discussions on the social media has shown a paradoxical divide.

During the first week of the Russian attack on Ukraine, the most shared content by local users on social media, was a news item published on Facebook by a national TV station which contained a statement of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, that “the US is to blame for the Ukraine crisis”.

Apparently unaware that Kim Jong-un heads arguably the most brutal dictatorship in the world, and that North Koreans do not even not have access to global social networks, one user from North Macedonia wrote: “God bless Kim Jong-un”.

Source link: