Police in Moldova said they foiled a plot by groups of Russia-backed actors who were trained to create mass unrest during Sunday’s protests against the country’s new pro-Western government.
Moldova’s police chief, Viorel Carnauteanu, said at a news conference that an undercover agent had infiltrated groups of “diversionists”, some Russian citizens, who were allegedly involved in organizing “mass disorder” during protests in the capital Chisinau. $10,000 was promised. He said seven people have been detained.
Separately, police said they arrested 54 protesters, including 21 minors, who exhibited “suspicious behavior” or were found to be carrying prohibited items, including at least one knife.
Sunday’s protest is one of several protests organized in recent weeks by a group calling itself the Movement for the People, which is backed by Moldova’s pro-Russia Noise party, which has six seats in the country’s 101-seat legislature. There are seats.
Protesters are demanding that the government fully cover the cost of winter energy bills and “not drag the country into war.” He has repeatedly demanded President Maiya 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 “an ongoing part of destabilization measures” against Moldova, a former Soviet republic with a population of about 2.6 million. Said.
Moldova’s border police also said on Sunday that 182 foreign nationals have been denied entry to Moldova in the past week, including a “possible representative” of Russia’s Wagner Group, the private military company that Fighting is raging in Moldova’s war-torn neighbor Ukraine.
Sunday’s police announcement comes just days after US intelligence officials said they had determined that actors with ties to Russian intelligence were planning to use protests in Moldova, an EU candidate since last June, to , as the basis for promoting rebellion 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 into an alleged illegal party funding of the Noise party by an organized criminal group.
The agency said that a search of the car of a “courier” for the Shor party found envelopes and bags filled with money in various currencies, and that it was “used to pay for transportation and remunerate people who came to protests organized by the party”. was set for.”
The leader of the Shor party, Ilan Shor, is a Moldovan oligarch currently in exile in Israel. Shor, who has been named on the US State Department’s sanctions list for working for Russian interests. The United Kingdom also added Shor to its ban list in December.
Moldova’s Interior Minister Ana Revenko said the protests aimed to “shake democracy and stability” of 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 support they get to destroy our country,” Revenko said in a Facebook post.
Cristian Cantir, a Moldovan associate professor at Oakland University, says that although it is difficult to determine how the alleged plan to topple Moldova’s government will work, “Russia has always sought to undermine pro-European governments.”
“I think the concerns are valid, it’s hard to say what the exact nature of the threat is and how dangerous some of these groups may be,” he told The Associated Press, “but it’s absolutely a real concern.”
The Noise Party also organized a series of anti-government demonstrations last fall, after the government of Moldova asked the country’s Constitutional Court to declare the Noise Party illegal, in an ongoing case. Around the same time, anti-corruption prosecutors also alleged that the protests were partially financed with Russian money.
Last week, officials in Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria, which has close ties to Moscow and hosts Russian troops, claimed it had foiled an assassination attempt on its president allegedly organized by Ukraine’s national security service, the SBU. Gave it, but didn’t give proof.
The SBU rejected the allegation, saying “it should be regarded exclusively as a provocation by the Kremlin.”