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Moldovan president presents Russian ‘plan’ to overthrow government

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — The Moldovan president on Monday described what she described as a plot by Moscow to use external saboteurs to overthrow her country’s government, put the nation “at the disposal of Russia” and derail its aspirations to one day join the European Union.

President Maia Sandu’s briefing comes a week after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country had intercepted Russian intelligence plans to destroy Moldova, claims that were later confirmed by Moldovan intelligence officials .

“The plan for the next period involves actions with the participation of diversionists with military training, camouflaged in civilian clothes, who will undertake violent actions, attack certain state buildings and even take hostages,” Sandu told reporters during of a press briefing.

“The purpose of these actions is to overthrow the constitutional order, to change the legitimate power of Chisinau into an illegitimate one,” Sandu said, “which would put our country at the disposal of Russia, in order to stop the process of European integration.

She defiantly swore: “The Kremlin’s attempts to introduce violence into our country will not succeed.”

Since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago, Moldova, a former Soviet republic of about 2.6 million people, has sought to forge closer ties with its Western partners. Last June, it obtained the status of candidate to the European Union, the same day as Ukraine.

Sandu said that between October and December, the Moldovan police and its Intelligence and Security Service, or SIS, intervened in “several cases of organized criminal elements and stopped attempts at violence”.

Over the past year, non-NATO Moldova has faced a series of problems. These include a severe energy crisis after Moscow drastically cut gas supplies; skyrocketing inflation; and several incidents in recent months involving missiles that have crossed its skies and debris that has been found in its territory.

Moldovan authorities confirmed that another missile from the war in Ukraine entered its airspace on Friday.

Sandu said Russia wanted to use Moldova in the war against Ukraine, without providing further details, and that information obtained by intelligence services contained what she described as instructions on entry rules in Moldova for citizens of Russia, Belarus, Serbia and Montenegro.

“I assure you that state institutions are working to prevent these challenges and keep the situation under control,” Sandu said.

She said the Moldovan parliament needed to pass bills to equip its intelligence and security service, and the prosecutor’s office, “with the necessary tools to more effectively address risks to the country’s security.”

The president added that the plan “would rely on several internal forces, but above all on criminal groups” and then named two Moldovan oligarchs, Ilan Shor and Vladimir Plahotniuc, both currently in exile. Last year, the two men were sanctioned by the United States and the United Kingdom

Last fall, a series of mass anti-government protests organized by Shor’s populist, pro-Russian party also rocked Moldova amid the energy crisis.

The president’s press briefing on Monday comes after Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita resigned on Friday. The same day, Sandu named his defense and security adviser, the pro-Western economist Dorin Recean, to succeed Gavrilita.

On Friday, after Moldovan authorities confirmed the missile incident, US State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters in Washington that “Russia has for years supported campaigns to influence and of destabilization in Moldova, which often involve weaponizing corruption to achieve one’s goals”.


McGrath reported from Sighisoara, Romania


Follow AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine


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