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Russia plans to overthrow Moldova’s pro-Western government by stoking violence at the hands of foreign actors and internal criminal groups, Moldova’s President Maia Sandu said on Monday. The attempted conspiracy would have made the Eastern European nation available to the Kremlin for its invasion of Ukraine and prevented Moldova’s integration into the European Union, she said.
Sandu said Moldovan authorities in Brussels last week confirmed the disclosure by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that his intelligence services had intercepted documents showing “who, when and through what actions” Russia is breaking “the democratic order” of Moldova become.
“The purpose of these actions is to overthrow the constitutional order and replace the legitimate power of Chisinau with an illegitimate one,” Sandu said at Monday’s briefing, referring to the Moldovan capital.
The former Soviet republic with around 2.6 million inhabitants, has long been under Russian pressure. This has been greatly exacerbated after the February 24 invasion of the Kremlin in Ukraine, with which Moldova shares a border. Moldova’s pro-Western Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita unexpectedly resigned on Friday, noting “so many crises caused by Russian aggression in Ukraine.” (Sandu nominated another pro-Western official as her replacement.)
The Washington Post has documented how Kremlin security forces funneled advisers and tens of millions of dollars into Moldova to train a group of pro-Russian political leaders, including some sanctioned by the US government.
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Moscow has not commented publicly on Sandu’s allegations, but Russian state media on Monday stepped up criticism from Moldova’s political opposition that Kiev is trying to drag Chisinau into war with Russia.
The invasion has fueled rising inflation in Moldova and further threatened the integrity of its borders. A Russian missile aimed at Ukraine flew over Moldova on Friday. Last year, explosions in Transnistria, a Kremlin-allied breakaway region in eastern Moldova, sparked international concern.
Russian aggression has also brought Chisinau and the West closer together, with the European Union granting candidate status to Moldova in June.
Sandu said Russia hopes to capitalize on public discontent over the crisis. Between October and December, police intervened in several cases of “organizing criminal elements and preventing attempts at violence,” she said.
At a later stage, the Kremlin plans to use “diversionists with military training, disguised in civilian clothes, who would carry out violent actions, attack buildings of state institutions or even take hostages,” she said.
The president urged Moldovans to remain vigilant and said Moscow’s attempts to bring violence into the country would fail. She also called on lawmakers to pass new legislation that would give security forces additional powers to prevent foreign subversion.
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