On 17 January, RIA Novosti reported about volunteers from Europe in the Russian battalion Sudoplatov in the Zaporizhzhia region. The same day, Macedonian pro-Russian influencer Milenko Nedelkovski published the video of the article on his Facebook-profile, saying that volunteers from North Macedonia, Poland and other countries were ready to join the battalion. The same day, the anonymous outlet 24pressnews.com also reported about the RIA article, putting emphasis on the Serbian volunteers in the battalion. On 4 February, two Serbian volunteers were interviewed on the YouTube channel “Prave vesti”. The interview was transmitted by the portal, skopje1.mk.
Both videos feature Andrey Rodionov, founder, and President of the Russian association “Russian – Slavic Unification and Revival (RUSOV)” and promoter of Slavic unification under Russian supremacy. This is also reflected in the interview on “Prave vesti”, where he says that all the volunteers had one goal, “the unification of all Slavs around Russia”, and he added that Russia as a mother united all Slavic peoples”.
Besides his activities in temporarily occupied Crimea, he is also responsible for mobilization and outreach to mostly Serbian nationalist movements throughout the Balkans, and in the recent period his activities in the Balkans are blended with those of Wagner.
FN has already written about Rodionov, back in 2020, exposing his direct ties with the Kremlin. He has visited North Macedonia several times in the past, and he promotes harmful and divisive anti-Euro Atlantic integration processes of North Macedonia, anti-Western and pro-Russian narratives. Rodionov’s network in North Macedonia is diverse, and it is consisted of far-right pro-Russian political parties, associations and nationalists promoting the “Bojkotiram” movement. Throughout 2018, he was expressing the support for the idea of Macedonian and Russian Union against EU and NATO, and the very status is with registered trolling and elements of inauthentic behavior. He was in the country in June 2018, the same month the Prespa Agreement was signed, and also during the referendum held in September 2018, after which he commented the following: “Macedonian brothers, we did a good job recently in Macedonia for the benefit of Russian-Slavic unity”.
In light of the Russian aggression to Ukraine, Rodionov appears to be very skillful in validating his previous work in the Western Balkans for the benefit of recruiting volunteers from this region to fight on the side of the Russian armed forces. In one of his recent Telegram posts Rodionov wrote:
"Next year in Serbian Prizren and Russian Kiev!"
The facts presented in this analysis give solid ground to consider Rodionov as an example of 'Russian malign influence in North Macedonia and in the region'.
The photo gallery below offers an overview of selected activities of Andrey Rodionov in the Western Balkans and the frontline in Eastern Ukraine as part of the Russian invasion forces.
Please click the content in the gallery below:
Kosovska Mitrovica, North Kosovo, March 2017
As part of his activities in the region, Rodionov had several visits to North Macedonia, Serbia, North Kosovo and Republika Srpska. Source: Facebook
Rashka, Serbia 2017
Around the same period Rodionov posted from Rashka, near Serbia-Kosovo border. Source: Facebook
Belgrade, Serbia, April 2019
A picture from the meeting with Dejan Zlatanovic - https://srbin.info. Besides the appraisal Rodionov defines the Zlatanovic brothers as "good people, real right-wing Serbian patriots." Srbin.info has also been mapped as a extreme right-wing internet portal in Serbia, by the Atlantic initiative. Source: Facebook
North Macedonia, June 2018
This picture is part of his post in which he expresses support to the Macedonian people in their struggle against NATO and EU. Part of his anti-Western and pro-Russian rhetoric. Source: Facebook
Bitola, North Macedonia, October 2018
His ties with the Russian state can be also witnessed from his visit to the Russian Consulate in Bitola in 2018. He had a meeting with a representative of the Macedonian Cossacks which is an alleged 'organizer' of the local Cossack movement following the model of the Great Don Cossack Army. The meeting was held in the premises of the Russian consulate in Bitola. Source: Facebook
Skopje, North Macedonia, June 2019
His visits in the region, does not exclude North Macedonia. The Vergina flag and the Philip (Father of Alexander the Great) monument also has significance. Source: Facebook
Skopje, North Macedonia, November 2020
Actively working on promotion of radical and illiberal views in the region. His network of pro-Russian and anti-Western structures in North Macedonia and the region are of assistance to his and Kremlin's goals. Source: Facebook
Fighter in Eastern Ukraine, Sudoplatov battalion, October 2023
Publicly revealing the close collaboration between RUSOV and Wagner picture taken from the Rodionov's Telegram channel. Source: Telegram .
Chevrons of Wagner and RUSOV, December 2022
Picture of the Chevrons of Wagner and RUSOV published on Rodionov's Telegram channel. Source: Telegram .
Promotion of Wagner, January 2023
Offering Wagner as support to Kosovo Serbs, in light with the growing tensions between Serbia and Kosovo. Here is the verbatim translation of the Telegram post: The Serbian authorities are against the arrival of PMC fighters in Serbia "Wagner". Okay, I understand why President Vucic says that. Can you liberate Kosovo and Metohija yourself? With the Albanians, of course, you will resolve the issue in a week. And KFOR, NATO? Evil Russians are just waiting for an invitation. Call us and we will come. Next year in Serbian Prizren and Russian Kiev! Source: Telegram
This project was funded in part through a U.S. Embassy grant. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the implementers/authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Government.