US to sanction pro-Russian influence group in Moldova

On June 5, the US imposed sanctions through the Treasury’s specialized agency OFAC against seven designated top figures in a “malign influence group” with ties to Russian intelligence, charging them with taking part in a Russian destabilization effort intended to support a plot to seize power in Moldova.

In response to the Kremlin’s efforts to meddle in Moldovan politics, OFAC issued sanctions against lawmaker Ilan Shor and seven other individuals in October 2022.

Shor “has worked with other corrupt oligarchs and Moscow-based entities to create political unrest in Moldova and sought to undermine Moldova’s bid for EU candidate status,” OFAC reasoned in October 2022. Shor was a beneficiary of the massive 2014 money laundering scheme related to the theft of $1bn from Moldovan banks.

Moldovan authorities found that Shor continued to fund anti-government protests there and give groups of people instructions to incite violent incidents in February and March of this year with the help of its allies in Moldova and the “malign group of influence” linked to Russian intelligence.

According to the statement, the group that the US has currently sanctioned assisted the plot to gain power in Moldova with intelligence and logistical support.

Konstantin Sapozhnikov, Yuri Makolov, Gleb Khloponin, Svetlana Boyko, Alexei Losev, Vasily Gromovikov, and Anna Travnikova were listed as being on the sanctions list.

Additionally, a workshop owned or managed by one of these people has been named.

All of the designated individuals’ assets and interests in assets that are located in the US must be frozen and disclosed to OFAC. Additionally, all entities that are directly or indirectly owned by one or more blocked persons to a minimum of 50% are also blocked.

The group, according to the OFAC, is a component of a significant international information operation linked to Russia that is particularly directed against Ukraine and its neighbors as well as the EU, UK, and the United States. The United States claims that some members of the organization conducted reconnaissance on the ground and gathered information about security measures in Moldovan government buildings, while others were involved in budgeting and financing the plot.

The conspiracy to topple the government of Moldova in early 2023 was organized by Sapozhnikov, the head of the evil influence group.

Makolov was a part of the logistical support for the plot to topple the Moldovan government.

For the attempt to topple Moldova’s government, Khloponin was responsible for compiling security information on the country’s various government facilities. 

Boyko, a senior member of the aforementioned evil influence group, was in charge of budgeting for the scheme to topple the Moldovan government.

For the scheme to topple the government, Losev undertook reconnaissance in Moldova.

Gromovikov took part in the plot’s finance

Travnikova has participated in the deceptive influence campaign against foreign audiences. The actions were intended to influence foreign public opinion in favor of Russia in light of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. Travnikova and Boyko collaborated in 2022 to spread pro-Russian themes to audiences worldwide, especially those in the United States.

Photo: peace demonstrators in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, April 2022. EPA-EFE/Dumitru Doru

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