The Macedonian Prime Minister has blamed the recent violence over an agreement with Greece on Greek businessmen close to Russia, the Beta news agency reported on Monday.
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev is reported to have told the BuzzFeed News portal that his government received multiple reports of “Greek businessmen sympathetic to the Russian cause” paying citizens of his country between 13,000 and 21,000 Dollars to commit acts of violence prior to a crucial referendum on the change of the country’s name from the current Republic of Macedonia to North Macedonia as agreed with official Athens.
Zaev is reported by the media in Skoplje to have said that the police learned from members of the Komiti soccer hooligan group that they got money from a businessman from Russia to get involved in the protests against the agreement.
“Those young men from the Komiti were questioned after attacking the police and said that businessmen from Russia gave them money to be there,” the prime minister told reporters.
Zaev did not name any of the allegedly involved businessman but BuzzFeed reported that investigators believe that the violence is being funded by Ivan Savvidis, a former Russian lawmaker and wealthy businessman who holds both Russian and Greek citizenship and owns a football team and several media outlets in Greece.