“Russian Inclination” Is Constructed from a 15-Year Old Photograph Used in News Reports on the Name Dispute

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Photo: Screenshot of the FB post

The photograph in the post we are fact-checking was used by Russian media in 2007 in the context of reporting on the name dispute between Macedonia and Greece at the time. Parts of the map posted belong to Greece and are marked as Western Macedonia, Eastern Macedonia, and Central Macedonia and they present, in fact, how Greece identifies its territories and not the way Russia sees North Macedonia


We are fact-checking a post on the social network Facebook (screenshot here) stating the following:

This is how the Russians are presenting us on their national television.

Then a map is shared on which North Macedonia is described with the previous name “Macedonia”, and part of today’s Greece is presented as Western Macedonia, Central Macedonia, and Eastern Macedonia.

The photograph can be found posted on Facebook back on 4 June 2021, with the following text:

Greetings from the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry! Pirin Macedonia is only missing from the map, but it will be added soon

Before that the photograph can be found on Facebook posted on 10 January 2016 with the note that Macedonia is presented in such a manner on Russian television. But this photograph, however, dates back to 25.05.2009 from a Russian language forum, where a news article about the earthquakes in Macedonia was shared.

The tremors continued throughout the second day in Macedonia. A total of 180 earthquakes were registered up to date. A maximum – up to seven degrees – was identified in the epicenter located 125 kilometers south of the capital city of Macedonia, Skopje. Thousands of Macedonians spent the night on the streets, scared that the buildings might collapse. The population in some cities and inhabited places was in a panic. To date, no one has been hurt. Many buildings have suffered minor damages, informed ITAR-TASS, specifies the post in the forum where the photograph was shared of the fact-checked post.

If the site Vesti.ru is searched, the same photograph can be found in 2008 in a text about the negotiations between Macedonia and Greece:

Greece and Macedonia proceed with the negotiations on the name of the former Yugoslav republic. The talks took place behind closed doors and the outcomes were not revealed. Judging from the statements made by the Greek side preventing Macedonia from joining international organizations under its current name, the dispute has not been resolved yet.

Ria Novosti is a medium controlled by the Russian Federation. The earliest date of the photograph presented by Russian media, in fact, points to the actual context in which it was used. Namely, in 2007, the same photograph was used in a text about Macedonia and Greece proceeding with the years-long political dispute under the auspices of the UN regarding the right to the name of Alexander the Great’s Macedonia and that difficult talks on the topic were ongoing in the seat of the organization. The map shared in the post we are fact-checking, presents the dispute between both countries in that specific year (2007). The map does not imply that Russia is thinking of North Macedonia when putting it in today’s Greece. In Greece, there are also territories called Macedonia because that is how they self-identify themselves. The map from the post is about that already resolved problem and is more than 15 years old.

Due to all of the above-noted facts, the post we are fact-checking is assessed as omitting context, because it does not elaborate on the fact that the map shared in the post was not used recently in 2023, but in 2007 in the context of the name dispute between Macedonia and Greece. Parts of the map that belong to Greece, but are marked as Western Macedonia, Eastern Macedonia, and Central Macedonia, in fact, present the manner in which Greece identifies its territories.