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Moldova spy chief: Russia paid fugitive tycoon $ 55.5 mn to overthrow government

A criminal group led by fugitive oligarch Ilan Shor had spent $5mn in the past month to bribe voters and fund the Șansă party, Moldova says
Ilan Shor moldova
Ilan Shor (R), attends a session of the parliament in Chisinau, Moldova, March 21, 2019. Photo: Dumitru Doru
Moldova spy chief: Russia paid fugitive tycoon $ 55.5 mn to overthrow government

Moldova’s intelligence chief Alexandru Musteață said that Russia spent about a billion Moldovan lei ($55.5 million) to overthrow the democratic government and destabilize the situation in Moldova, Newsmaker reported.

Speaking at a news conference, Musteață said Russia had tried to use a criminal group led by fugitive oligarch Ilan Shor to influence the outcome of local elections in Moldova.

In particular, Shor’s group has spent over 90 million Moldovan lei ($5 million) over the past two months to bribe voters and illegally finance a political party associated with Shor, the head of Moldova’s Information and Security Service (ISS) said.

ISS data indicates the preparation and implementation on the territory of Moldova, starting in the second half of 2022, of a diversionary scenario of foreign interference to forcibly overthrow the democratic government and seize political control by criminal groups subordinate to other countries,” Musteață said.

He claimed the organizers of this effort are affiliated with structures in Russia responsible for political technologies and connected to the administration of President Vladimir Putin and Russian special services.

According to Musteață, Shor is using several political parties, including the Șansă (Chance) party, to destabilize Moldova.

“Together with other law enforcement agencies, a large-scale operation has been uncovered, the purpose of which is to influence electoral processes, including through the hidden financing of the election campaign of the Șansă party. This amount exceeded 90 million lei. It has been confirmed that most of the money came from abroad, in particular from Russia,” the ISS chief stated.

He said fugitive oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc is also supporting Shor’s criminal group. Musteață further alleged that during the campaign, Șansă party candidates promised to implement several social and infrastructure projects involving an Israeli-Russian citizen named Igal Shved.

“The amount of funding allegedly transferred by the ‘sponsor’ Igal Shved is €1,032,737 and $280,000. The investigation established that the money was transferred to Shved’s accounts in Kazakhstan from Russia by Moldovan-Russian citizen Viktor Gutsulyak, who is closely associated with Ilan Shor and a Russian oligarch,” he added.

Mustyats said the ISS prepared a detailed report on Russia’s attempts to destabilize Moldova using Shor’s group and forwarded it to the Central Election Commission, the National Anticorruption Center, and the Prosecutor General’s Office.

  • The same day, 3 November, Șansă was disqualified from participating in the local elections on November 5th, according to the Moldovan Prime Minister.
  • On 16 September, a Moldova Sputnik chief was revealed to be a career GRU spy, shedding light on Russia’s espionage activities in Moldova.
  • The Times reported on 12 May that a Russian plot to topple Moldova’s pro-Western government is allegedly being directed from the UK by former Moldovan police chief Gheorghe Cavcaliuc.
  • On 15 March, an investigation suggested that Russia has planned to take control over Moldova by 2030, primarily to prevent pro-NATO and pro-European trends, although not necessarily through annexation.
  • On 9 February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy alleged that Russia has acted to destabilize Moldova, a claim confirmed by Moldova’s intelligence service.

The spectre of the FSB haunts Moldova, next target of Russia’s hybrid war

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