From Levica through Rodina to GROM and MAAK: Who are Moscow’s megaphones in North Macedonia

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In recent years, and especially since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Macedonia has been exposed to very strong Russian propaganda influence, supported by illegal flows of Russian money through political parties, societal groups, and influential individuals used by Moscow to influence political decisions in the country, relevant analyses show. Several leading media and influential political parties in the region are not immune to malign Russian influence such as Levica in Macedonia, but also some minor political parties openly advocate against the country’s membership in the EU and NATO and for closer ties with Russia and its alliances with satellite states


Authors: Igor PetrovskiMefail IsmailiDespina Kovachevska


Russia’s tendencies to influence the political and economic affairs in the Balkans are not a phenomenon known since yesterday: official Moscow has had a more direct or indirect role in major societal developments in the Balkan countries for decades, even centuries. Such efforts did not weaken after the tectonic disruptions on the peninsula following the breakup of the Yugoslav Federation or Bulgaria’s withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact at the end of the 1980’s beginning of the 1990’s.

According to numerous analyses and accounts, Russian influence is present in Macedonia, and it significantly intensified after 2022, when the Russian invasion of Ukraine started. For instance, the Center for Study of Democracy from Sofia in their analysis of the spread of disinformation and destabilization of Southeast European democracies by Russia, claims that USD 6 billion from Russian sources have flowed undercover and illegally in Macedonian financial flows from 2000 to 2020.

According to the analysis, in recent years Macedonia has been exposed to very strong Russian propaganda influence, supported by illegal flows of Russian money through political parties,  societal groups, and influential individuals used by Moscow to influence political decisions in the country. It also emphasizes that a number of leading media and influential political parties in the region are not immune to malign Russian influence such as Levica in Macedonia, Prerodba and BSP in Bulgaria, SNS and SPS in Serbia, Bulgarian National television BNT and RTRS in BiH. A significant part of the public has perceived for a while Levica as a pro-Russian party in the country, deeply integrated with the Kremlin’s propaganda machinery.

Although its basic commitments include the fight for worker’s rights, social justice, and democratization in all spheres of life, very often the party’s leader Dimitar Apasiev, but also its members support authoritarian and non-democratic regimes such as the one in Russia.

In their comments, they refer to the war in Ukraine as a “special operation” and by doing so, they not only follow Russian narratives but also use the same language.

Levica is a Eurosceptic and anti-NATO party depicting the NATO alliance as a terrorist organization that creates conflicts and wars around the world and as an alliance that instead of providing protection, propagates war for greater production of weapons for lucrative purposes.  With these messages, Levica fully aligns with one of the Kremlin’s key narratives that “the war is actually being fought between Russia and NATO, not between two brotherly nations.”


Levica did not condemn the Russian aggression on Ukraine and promotes close ties to the Russian regime 


Levica has repeatedly condemned the institutions and the Ministry of Defence for providing assistance to Ukraine and following NATO’s recommendations. It claims that in that way, the country is dragged into war and that it will turn into a protectorate of the military organization.

Speaking of its position on the EU, the party believes that the country’s place is not in the EU where there are already a lot of problems, while on the other hand, it adopts a hypocritical approach with us and applies double standards. North Macedonia should consider an alternative to the EU, such as the Eurasian pact and the BRICS. This message implies that Russia with the Eurasian pact is the other alternative to the EU, which is completely identical to the Russian message about the Union.

In addition to spreading the Kremlin’s narratives, Levica also cooperates and supports Russian diplomacy in the country and does not miss an opportunity to meet the Russian Ambassador to North Macedonia, criticize the government for imposing sanctions on Russia, and publicly condemn the military aggression. Levica’s second plenum, where Dimitar Apasiev was re-elected as a leader, was attended by the Russian Ambassador Sergey Bazdnikin, who expressed gratitude for such an honor. 

In addition to the proximity to Russia, Levica openly speaks about the importance of cooperating with China, thus their ascent announces a new geopolitical image. So, in the new multipolar world, if small countries like North Macedonia want to survive they have to play with all the big powers and Western globalization needs to be stopped, by war if necessary.

Party representatives hold working meetings with the Chinese Ambassador expressing hope that in the near future the cooperation will intensify in all areas of mutual interest for the two countries, with a particular focus on education, as well as the need to use all the possibilities offered by the Belt and Road Initiative as well as the BRICS.

Their cooperation is not limited only to the diplomatic corps. The party also has cooperation with China’s Communist Party. From sending friendly letters to participating in China’s Communist Party World Summit, the party constantly emphasizes the need to overcome the existing neoliberal world order and the inevitable birth of a new and more just multipolar world.


For Rodina, the EU and NATO are “artificial war-mongering creations” that are about to fall apart


In North Macedonia, in addition to Levica as a bigger party that follows pro-Russian positions and builds on Russian disinformation narratives, there are smaller parties that do not have big influence, but still in their sphere of influence, they divide the electorate and propagate to their supporters ani-western rhetorics.

One of them is the party Rodina, which on its official website put forward that the artificial war-mongering creations – the EU and NATO are falling apart in front of our eyes and will soon not exist. Rodina’s program goal is to prepare Macedonia for the forthcoming geostrategic reality and only natural option for the next 100 years at least, which is Charles de Gaulle’s idea for Euroasia from Lisbon to Vladivostok, as a community of free and sovereign peoples.

Although Rodina declares itself to be a Macedonian homeland-loving platform, it uses Russian rhetorics on lost identity and tries to sow fear from erasing the Macedonian national identity, causing conflict with all those who disagree with their rhetorics and labeling them as traitors and servants of the foreign services. Renowned party supporters also spread anti-LGBT sentiment, claiming that those ideas are foreign to the Macedonian people and ethnicities living in the Republic of Macedonia, while following the neo-liberal ideologies destroys the traditional Macedonian family and the natural relations therein, leading to full destruction of the society.

In this respect, they fully align with the narrative that Putin is a defender of traditional values against the decadence coming from the West.

Another smaller political party that has stated among its basic goals and tasks “the inclusion of the Republic of Macedonia in the Eurasian Economic Union and strategic partnership with Russia as an equal and respected subject in international relations” is United Macedonia. The president of United Macedonia, Janko Bachev, emphasizes in his posts that Turkey, a NATO member, promoted neutrality in the war in Ukraine, and that “Macedonian puppet authorities, instead of opting for principled and neutral policy in the war, opted to serve other interests”. Despite the inaccuracy of such claims, still his posts have significant engagement.

The president of Macedonian Action-Conservative, Strasho Angelovski, is also known for his frequent public appearances and comments with obvious anti-western and pro-Russian narratives. In an op-ed dated January 11, 2024, on the Deneshen portal with the title “Sunset of the West”, he criticizes the concept of the Western liberal democracy, stating that it is inevitably headed towards disaster, which totally overlaps with Russia’s narratives and propaganda.

On October 5, 2023,  on the same web portal, Angelovski published an op-ed with the title “The Nazi values – the peak of the Western democracy” where he implies that the Russian invasion in Ukraine is actually justified because Russia had to defend itself against the wave of nazism and fascism of its neighbor.


The leader of GROM accuses “the comedian Zelenski” of the Russian aggression


The political party GROM has stated in its statute the political goal of “integrating the Republic of Macedonia in the global political and economic development…” which does not clearly indicate whether they support Euro-Atlantic integration and leaves space for alternative links between Macedonia and Russia and its Eurasian alliances. Five years before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, GROM’s leader, Stevcho Jakimovski, stated in an interview for the Russian propaganda outlet Sputnik that there is no other party in Macedonia that advocates for Macedonia to be a military neutral zone.

However, Stevcho Jakimovski did not remain neutral at all in terms of the military aggression in Ukraine, but showed to be a propaganda spinner who tried to pin the blame for the Russian aggression on the “comedian Zelenski”.

The biggest party of the Serbs in Macedonia (DPS), a political party representing the interests of Serbs in Macedonia serves as an extended arm of Serbian pro-Russian propaganda. Its president, Ivan Stoiljkovikj, currently MP, was one of the three MPs who on March 4, 2022, voted against the Declaration to condemn the military attacks threatening the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.

On that occasion, Stoiljkovikj said that International law has already been violated many times, and called USA’s behavior in the past 30 years “constructive destruction”.

This politician has been an open supporter of Vladimir Putin’s policies and attended twice, in 2019 and 2023, the Moscow Security Forum where the Russian president has regular speeches.

All these parties overtly or covertly promote Russian narrative ideology or propaganda and fall within the extreme left or right end of the political spectrum. Except for Levica as a more significant player on the political scene with two MPs, almost all the pro-Russian parties in Macedonia propagate conservative demo-christian attitudes with a strong rightist ideology.

What is common in their political platforms and goals, which overlaps with the Russian narratives, is the commitment to derail Macedonia from the path of Euro-Atlantic integration, because in their words the West, namely the EU and NATO are decadent, will soon fall apart and our country should look for an alternative through an alliance with Russia and its satellites.