Two Russian pranksters, famous for their hoax phone calls, tricked North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev into seemingly agreeing to bribe the Ecumenical Patriarch and accusing Moscow of having spies in the Balkans.
At a press conference he immediately held following the release of the audio recording, according to the French Agency, PM Zoran Zaev apologized but said he would not resign as demanded by the opposition.
As the French Agency says, in one of these talks, the prankster, who pretended to be the former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, proposed to intermediate between the North Macedonian Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The Ecumenical Patriarchate recognized in January the autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine provoking the indignation of Moscow and the Russian Church that denounced the schism.
In a phone call, fake “Poroshenko” explained that he achieved this diplomatic and religious victory by giving “personally money to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.” “In my case, I paid 150,000 euros, it is cheaper for you,” the comedian said, who advised Zaev to bribe the Patriarch with 100,000 euros.
“Excellent, that is no problem,” Zaev replies.
In another phone call, believing he was talking to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the North Macedonian PM said that Moscow had “many spies in the region.”
“I’m a victim of my openness” and “fraudsters from countries with anti-NATO orientation.” “That sould raise an alarm to the whole democratic world, which requires a strong and organized fight against fake news and machinations,” said PM Zoran Zaev at a press conference.