Thirty-year-old Darko Todorovski from North Macedonia came into the spotlight earlier this year after Bulgarian investigative journalist Hristo Grozev exposed him as a disseminator of Russian propaganda in the region. He is from Delcheva, a town in eastern North Macedonia, while he was in Moscow from 2016 to 2018 for his master’s degree. In the last three years, Todorovski continued to stay in Russia for his master studies. He is active on several social networks, where he expresses pro-Russian views. He has published several texts and analyses promoting Russian narratives about the war in Ukraine and its positions on various regional and global issues. Among the media in Macedonian, Todorovski has published other texts on the portal Antropol.mk, which is close to the political party “Levica.” This political party, with two deputies in parliament, openly opposes NATO and its political opponents accuse it of being close to Russia. According to the Central Register of North Macedonia, the publisher of the portal is the legal entity “Media Association for the Information of Citizens”, whose founders are, except for its head Dimitar Apasiev, almost all members of the Presidium of “Levica”.
Bulgarian journalist Hristo Grozev has been wanted by Russia since January this year. Moscow has not provided an official explanation as to why this is being requested. The Bulgarian government has also officially requested this information, but has not received an official response. The only official information known about this decision by Moscow is the news published in the Russian state agency RIA Novosti, which states that “Grozev violated the law on reporting Russian military operations.” This decision comes at a time when Grozev made allegations that texts containing Russian propaganda, written by Russian military intelligence, were being distributed to Bulgarian media through Macedonian Darko Todorovski in exchange for cash payments of 150 to 300 euros.
Todorovski has denied all accusations through statements in the Macedonian media. He has already closed his profiles on social networks and at the same time stopped publishing author’s texts on the portal Antropol.mk and on Bregalnicki.mk. The latter is based in Todorovski’s Delcheva and is published by the company “Atanasov Limited Doel”, owned by Kircho Atanasov. In recent months, the portal has been inactive, meanwhile, according to reports sent by Atanasov to the financial institutions of North Macedonia, Atanasov’s portal has received about 2500 euros in funds to promote the opposition VMRO-DPMNE campaign in the local elections of 2021.
Todorovski is now not so active in the media of the country and the region. His latest text was published on the Antropol portal and is entitled “The End of Europe – Together with Russia on the Path of Multipolarity”. This is actually the title of the book by Russian author Valery Korovin, which Todorovski reviews. ” Russia, as a civilization in its own right, successor of Byzantium and Byzantine Orthodoxy, which is the basis of Russian citizenship, is developing according to its own model of civilization with its own values and traditions. But Russia has simultaneously taken the best of Eastern and Western civilizations and adapted it to its own model of civilization. Throughout history, Russia has never tried to impose its civilization model and values on Western Europe, and has not claimed that they are universal and should be spread all over the world, unlike the West, which has imposed its own models and civilizational forces by force and is trying to make neoliberal values global today. Russia has its own historical path, and the West has its own historical path,” Todorovski wrote.
In late March, he appeared as an expert in the vlog of Milendko Nedelkovski, a controversial journalist in North Macedonia with strong anti-Western views. In this interview, Todorovski says that “the war between Russia and Ukraine is in reality a war between Russia and the West” and stresses that this could lead to the use of nuclear weapons. He defends Iran and considers the sanctions against this country illegal because they do not have the approval of the United Nations. “I have visited all the places of war in Ukraine. In these two years I have gone through all these areas…,” he says. Todorovski reports for several local television stations in North Macedonia, spreading Russian propaganda about events in Ukraine’s war zones.
There is no money transfer from Russia through official financial systems in either North Macedonia or Bulgaria. In North Macedonia, there is not even a single media outlet owned by a Russian citizen or company. The Todorovsky case shows the sophisticated way of influence by prefabricated experts and analyses that continue to be disseminated in the media in order to spread the “Russian truth” about Ukraine.
This intense propaganda activity is having an impact on two fronts: It intensifies the dispute between Skopje and Sofia and changes the political scene in North Macedonia. VMRO-DPMNE and Levica are the two parties in the ethnic Macedonian bloc whose support is steadily growing. At the same time, the apathy of Macedonian voters is growing, which strengthens the extreme political parties even more. Polls show another dangerous trend: the loss of faith that democracy can solve their problems. The latest IRI poll says that almost half of the citizens believe that there is another system that is better than democracy.
When asked, “Do you think democracy is the best form of government or not?” only 51 percent responded positively. By age group, only 48 percent of citizens aged 18 to 55 expressed that democracy is the best system, while the rest believe that another form of government is the same or better than democracy. This means that there is fertile ground in the country for the strengthening of extreme political, ideological or religious forces, which are essentially populist and can lead to unpredictable situations in the country. This apathy is, among other things, the result of Russian influence, which supports these political forces.
Written by: Xhelal Neziri – The Geopost associate from North Macedonia