Moldova: We Foiled Russia's Protest Plot

New government claims plan was to cause mass unrest
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 12, 2023 10:10 AM CDT
Moldova: We Foiled Russia's Protest Plot
Moldovan riot police form a line Sunday to prevent people from leaving a designated area during a protest initiated by the Movement for the People and members of Moldova's Russia-friendly Shor Party against the pro-Western government and low living standards, in Chisinau.   (AP Photo/Aurel Obreja)

Moldovan police said on Sunday they have foiled a plot by groups of Russia-backed actors who were specially trained to cause mass unrest during a protest the same day in the capital against the country's new pro-Western government. The head of Moldova's police, Viorel Cernauteanu, said in a news conference that an undercover agent had infiltrated groups of "diversionists," some Russian citizens, who had been promised $10,000 to organize "mass disorder" to destabilize Moldova during a protest in the capital, Chisinau. Seven people were detained, he said, per the AP.

Separately, police said they arrested 54 protesters on Sunday, including 21 minors, who exhibited "questionable behavior" or were found to be carrying prohibited items, including at least one knife. The protest Sunday is one of several held in recent weeks organized by a group calling itself Movement for the People, which is backed by Moldova's Russia-friendly Shor Party, which holds six seats in the country's 101-seat legislature. The demonstrators are demanding that the government fully cover the costs of winter energy bills and to "not involve the country in war." They have repeatedly called on President Maia Sandu to step down.

Police said that four bomb threats on Sunday, including one at the capital's international airport, had been registered, which they called "an ongoing part of the destabilization measures" against Moldova, a former Soviet republic with a population of about 2.6 million. The border police also said Sunday that 182 foreign nationals in the past week have been denied entry into Moldova, including a "possible representative" of Russia's Wagner Group, the private military company fighting in Ukraine, Moldova's neighbor. The police announcement Sunday comes days after US intelligence officials said they have determined that actors with ties to Russian intelligence plan to use protests in Moldova, a European Union candidate since last June, as a basis to foment an insurrection against the country's government.

(More Moldova stories.)

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