(Chisinau) The Moldovan police announced on Sunday, a few hours before an anti-government demonstration, that they had arrested members of a network “orchestrated by Moscow” with the aim of destabilizing this small country of the former Soviet Union.
After searches on Saturday evening, 25 men were questioned by investigators and seven of them were taken into custody, police chief Viorel Cernautean told a press conference.
An agent was able to infiltrate the group led by a Russian-Moldavian, he said, referring to “ten hours” of video and audio recordings.
“People have come from Russia with a specific training role,” added the official.
The Moldovan authorities explained that they acted after having “received information on the organization by the Russian special services of destabilization actions on our territory via demonstrations”.
The party of fugitive pro-Russian oligarch Ilhan Shor has mobilized its troops again in recent weeks against the pro-European government, amid heightened tensions between Moscow and Chisinau.
He organized several rallies, for which he is suspected of paying the participants. A new demonstration is planned for this Sunday afternoon in the capital Chisinau.
The White House had accused Russia on Friday of seeking to destabilize this Romanian-speaking country of 2.6 million inhabitants neighboring Ukraine, with the aim of installing a government committed to its cause.
The United States had indicated that it had increased its information sharing with the Moldovan leaders so that “they could investigate further” and “thwart Russian plans”.
Moldova, formerly in Russia’s zone of influence, is now governed by authorities resolutely turned towards European integration.
However, it must deal with the pro-Russian separatist region of Transdniestria, where the authorities on Thursday called on the UN to investigate a planned attack against several senior officials blamed on Kyiv.
Ukraine’s security services (SBU) immediately denounced the allegations as a “Kremlin-orchestrated provocation”.