Moldova police say they foiled Russia-backed unrest plot | Local News

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CHISINAU, Moldova — Moldovan police said they foiled a plot by Russian-backed groups of actors who had been trained to cause mass unrest during a protest on Sunday against the country’s new pro-Western government.

Moldovan police chief Viorel Cernauteanu told a press conference that an undercover agent had infiltrated groups of “entertainers”, Russian citizens, who were allegedly promised $10,000 to organize “disorders of mass” during the demonstration in the capital, Chisinau. Seven people were arrested, he said.

Separately, police said they arrested 54 protesters, including 21 minors, who exhibited “questionable behavior” or were found carrying prohibited items, including at least one knife.

Sunday’s protest is one of many held in recent weeks by a group calling itself People’s Movement, which is backed by the pro-Russia Shor Party of Moldova, which holds six of the 101 seats in the the country’s legislature.

The protesters are demanding that the government fully cover the costs of winter energy bills and that it “not involve the country in war”. They have repeatedly called on President Maia Sandu to step down.

Police said four bomb threats were recorded on Sunday, including one at the capital’s international airport, in what they called a “continuing part of destabilizing measures” against Moldova, a former Soviet republic in approximately 2.6 million inhabitants.

Moldova’s border police also said on Sunday that 182 foreign nationals were refused entry to Moldova last week, including a “possible representative” of Russia’s Wagner Group, the private military company fighting in the war-torn neighbor Ukraine. the Moldavian War.

Police’s announcement on Sunday comes just days after US intelligence officials said they determined that actors linked to Russian intelligence were planning to use protests in Moldova, a European Union candidate since last June, as a base. to foment an insurrection against the country’s government.

On Saturday, Moldova’s national anti-corruption agency said it seized more than 220,000 euros ($234,000) during searches in a case of alleged illegal funding of the Shor party by an organized criminal group.

The agency said that searches of the cars of the Shor party “couriers” uncovered the money crammed into envelopes and bags in various currencies, and that it was intended to “pay for transport and remunerate the people who come to demonstrations organized by the party”. ”

Shor Party leader Ilan Shor is a Moldovan oligarch currently in exile in Israel. Short who is on a US State Department sanctions list as working for Russian interests. The UK also added Shor to a sanctions list in December.

Moldovan Interior Minister Ana Revenco said the protests “aim to undermine democracy and stability” in the country and that “the voice of the people does not mean violence and betrayal of the country”.

“I warn the traitors of our country that they will soon be brought to justice no matter how much money and help they receive to destroy our country,” Revenco said in a Facebook post.

Cristian Cantir, Moldovan associate professor of international relations at Oakland University, said that while it is difficult to determine how the alleged plans to overthrow the Moldovan government would play out, “Russia has always sought to undermine governments pro-Europeans”.

“I think the concerns are legitimate, it’s hard to say what the exact nature of the threat is and how dangerous some of these groups might be,” he told The Associated Press, “but c is an absolutely realistic concern”.

The Shor party also staged a series of anti-government protests that last failed when the Moldovan government petitioned the country’s Constitutional Court to declare the Shor party illegal, in an ongoing case. Around the same time, anti-corruption prosecutors also alleged that the protests were partly funded with Russian money.

Last week, authorities in the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria, which has close ties to Moscow and hosts Russian troops, claimed to have foiled an assassination attempt against its president, allegedly organized by Ukraine’s national security service, the SBU, but provided no evidence.

The SBU dismissed the allegation, saying it “should be viewed exclusively as a Kremlin-orchestrated provocation.”


Moldova police say they foiled Russia-backed unrest plot | Local News

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