Moldova’s police said they prevented a destabilisation plot carried out by Russian agents in connection to the street protests organised by the Shor Party on March 12.
Foreign agents are increasingly involved in the street protests in Chisinau after the pro-Russian Shor Party led by fugitive businessman Ilan Shor failed to seriously challenge the order in Moldova’s capital city during past protests.
Head of the Chisinau police Viorel Cernauteanu announced on March 12 that a Russian agent and another agent with dual Moldovan and Russian citizenship had organised a structure of well-trained fighters supposed to receive up to $10,000. Those less exposed were supposed to receive $1,200, according to a recording of the talks between leaders of the groups published by the police.
"Specialised services from the Russian Federation are involved in destabilising actions in the Republic of Moldova during the protests. Our undercover agent came into direct contact with the person from the Russian Federation, who presented himself under the pseudonym Mayan Sandu, who directed the actions with another person with citizenship of the Republic of Moldova and the Russian Federation, but domiciled in the Russian Federation. He was supposed to ensure the training actions in order to destabilise the public order," said Cernăuțeanu quoted by Deschide.md.
A fighter from Russia’s paramilitary Wagner group was reported as identified and detained at Chisinau airport and a bomb threat was announced at the airport as well.
In total, four bomb threats were announced on the morning of March 12, most likely with the aim of dissipating the police's resources and weakening their presence at the street protests.
During the night of March 11-12, Cernauteanu said, several groups planning diversions in Chisinau were dismantled. 25 people involved in the action were identified, seven of them being detained as leaders of the groups.
"People are communicating very clearly with certain opposition forces in the Republic of Moldova, who will provide lawyers and support if necessary. The respective persons were recruited from people with criminal records and from athletes. As part of yesterday's actions by law enforcement, 25 people were taken to the National Investigation Inspectorate. The vast majority collaborate with law enforcement, seven of them being detained as leaders of criminal groups,” the police officer said.
Around 2,100 people attended the protest on March 12, according to TV8.md. This is the latest in a series of protests organised by the Shor Party.
Meanwhile, the Anticorruption Prosecution Office announced that it confiscated MDL4.5mn (€225,000) on March 11, after a search at the Shor Party headquarters.
The Police published video images and interceptions following the dismantling of the groups, in the evening of March 12.
The dismantling of the organised groups planning destabilisation in Chisinau comes several days after the self-proclaimed authorities in separatist Transnistria region announced a terrorist plot and accused Ukraine of being behind it.
The change of tone from Tiraspol is likely to have been dictated by Moscow. Until now, the separatist authorities have been rather moderate and have sought to avoid direct conflicts, despite the region receiving support from Russia.