Zaev: I was the victim of a prank by a well-organized structure

Фото: Б. Грданоски
Anti-NATO structures stand behind the phone conversations, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev commented on the audio posted on YouTube by Russian pranksters Vovan and Lexus, adding that they want to threaten the country’s strategic goal to join the Alliance.

Some of the audio has been edited and taken out of context, PM Zaev said, and some of it merely confirms the government’s commitment to Euro-Atlantic integration.

“I was the victim of a prank by a well-organized structure,” Zaev said, “which benefits from new tactics, forms, and tools in an attempt to publicly discredit people and countries with Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

“This is one of those attempts to directly harm our strategic interests to complete our NATO membership.”

According to Zaev, this was evident by what outlets were quick to publish this information: media channels spreading lies and anti-NATO propaganda.

“Part of the phone conversations were seriously intervened with,” Zaev said, “and put into a context that’s not authentic, leading to incorrect conclusions.

“Such is the released excerpt on the Macedonian Orthodox Church, which is a part that’s been intervened with.”

The rest of the audio, Zaev said, only confirms his and the government’s efforts in line with the country’s strategic goals.

“And in this case, the victim is me and my openness and availability to everyone,” Zaev said, pointing out that French President Emmanuel Macron, UK’s former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have also been victims of the Russian pranksters.

Zaev said stronger protocols for secure communication will be established, and the government will collaborate with NATO in developing a plan against disinformation and media manipulation.

Today’s press conference followed last night’s release of a YouTube audio in which the Russian pranksters pose as former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.