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Questionable Paperwork Lets Fake and Faulty Masks Flood Europe

by Aubrey Belford, Sarunas Cerniauskas, Matteo Civillini and Ola Westerberg As COVID-19 swept through Europe in March, the director of Lithuania’s Central Prison Hospital was relieved to receive 3,000 FFP2 respirator masks, the gold standard for filtering out tiny airborne particles, like the coronavirus that causes the disease. The masks arrived in boxes plastered with the CE mark, the immediately recognizable symbol showing that products have been verified as meeting European standards.…

Leaked Documents Show Russian, Serbian Attempts to Meddle in Macedonia

by Aubrey Belford, Saska Cvetkovska, Biljana Sekulovska and Stevan Dojčinović Russian spies and diplomats have been involved in a nearly decade-long effort to spread propaganda and provoke discord in Macedonia as part of a region-wide endeavor to stop Balkan countries from joining NATO. This conclusion comes from a tranche of intelligence documents obtained by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and partners NOVA TV and the Crime and Corruption Reporting Network (KRIK). The…

The Secret Players Behind Macedonia’s Fake News Sites

A joint investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and partners has uncovered new information that rewrites the story of the fake news boom in the Macedonian town of Veles. A week before Election Day in 2016, BuzzFeed News revealed that young men and teens in Veles were running over a hundred websites that pumped out often false viral stories that supported Donald Trump. Media outlets from…

How Macedonia’s Scandal-plagued Nationalists Lobbied America’s Right and Pulled Them Into an Anti-Soros Crusade

Until late last year, a mention of Macedonia in the halls of power in Washington, DC, would most likely elicit only shrugs. But things have changed. In recent months, America’s right has become fervently interested in what one writer termed a “battle royale” within the tiny Balkan country. On one side is Macedonia’s conservative former ruling party, portrayed by its newfound U.S. supporters as a staunch defender of free markets and traditional…