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Putin hopes for democratic end to Macedonia political crisis

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, right, meets with his Macedonian counterpart Gjorge Ivanov | President of Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow hopes for a democratic settlement of Macedonia’s political situation.

Putin made the statement Wednesday at the start of his talks with Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov, voicing hope that Ivanov’s experience would help “Macedonia’s domestic situation develop in accordance with the constitution in a democratic way.”

Since 2015, the Balkans nation has been roiled by a political crisis that threatened to ignite inter-ethnic conflict between ethnic Macedonians and Albanians, who make up a quarter of the population. The turmoil culminated last month in angry protesters storming parliament, leaving more than 100 people injured.

Last week, Ivanov moved to end the crisis by handing the mandate to form a government to left-wing opposition leader Zoran Zaev, whose Social-Democrat Alliance party finished second in December’s election.