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A supporter of a movement for voters to boycott the Macedonian referendum holds an old Republic of Macedonia flag during celebrations in central Skopje, Sept. 30, 2018 (AP photo by Thanassis Stavrakis).

Russia Tries to Tip the Scales in the Fight Over Macedonia’s Future

Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018

History has indelibly branded the Balkans as the battleground of empires, a fault line where great powers clash. That pattern came into full view again this weekend, when Macedonians voted in a referendum on whether or not to change their country’s name in order to ease its accession into the European Union and NATO, a question that has drawn the interest and involvement of Russia.

The referendum yielded a head-snapping outcome. First, the returns showed overwhelming approval, with some 90 percent voting to change the country’s name. But then the tally showed that voter turnout was just 36 percent, well below the required 50 percent threshold. And so, the referendum failed despite the resounding “yes.” ...

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