The Intelligence and Security Service (SIS) and the Prosecutor General’s Office of Moldova announced that they would be looking into possible political meddling by Russian intelligence.
Law enforcement authorities will look into claims of illegal financial assistance and political advice given to pro-Russian political parties in Moldova by Russian FSB agents and experts.
“More precisely, it is about the alleged channeling of significant sums of money offered by the Russian FSB to support some Moldovan politicians and create a partnership to overthrow the pro-Western regime and reorient Moldova towards Russia,” said the General Prosecutor’s Office.
Why did Moldova initiate an investigation?
The investigation was stated following the U.S.’s announcement of sanctions on October 28 against Vladimir Plahotniuc, an oligarch and politician from Moldova who fled to Israel after being accused of taking part in the “grand theft” of $1 billion between 2012 and 2014, Ilan Shor, and several other people suspected of interfering on behalf of Russia or engaging in corruption that threatens the rule of law and advances Russian interests in the nation.
At a press conference, U.S. Ambassador to Chisinau Kent D. Logsdon stated that “the two oligarchs exploited their riches and political power to attack political opponents, bribe elected officials, and undermine the rule of law.”
After the Plahotniuc-led Democratic Party lost power in Moldova in June 2019, Plahotniuc and Shore left the country. Plahotniuc declared last week that he would enter Moldovan politics once more.
Moldovans under sanctions
Last week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control published a list of nine Moldovan nationals it has sanctioned for alleged corruption. In addition to Shor and Plahotniuc, the sanctions include Sarah Shor, Igor Ceanca, Ivan Zavorotniuc, Alexei Troshin, Iurie Gudilin, Olga Grac, and Leonid Gonin.
The investigation was also launched after a Washington Post investigation reported that Russia had, until recently, funded former Moldovan President Igor Dodon and his Socialist Party to represent its interests.
The American newspaper reported that Russia has now switched its support to Ilan Shore.
Russian FSB activities in Moldova
Shor is now accused of paying protesters in central Chisinau to stage ongoing demonstrations against the pro-European government in an attempt to destabilize it on behalf of Moscow.
The Washington Post reported that Moldova’s two main pro-Russian TV channels have been handed over to an associate of Shor’s and that Russia’s FSB has sent political technologists to Moldova to advise Shor’s political party.
Shor told the newspaper that he had never received support from Moscow.