Moscow court reportedly issues arrest warrant for Moldovan oligarch and political heavyweight Plahotniuc

Moscow court reportedly issues arrest warrant for Moldovan oligarch and political heavyweight Plahotniuc
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest December 7, 2017

The court in Moscow's Basmanny district has endorsed investigators’ request for an arrest warrant for the president of the Democratic Party of Moldova Vlad Plahotniuc. The Moldovan oligarch has been charged with attempted murder, Interfax reported quoting court spokesman Yunona Tsareva.

Russia’s Investigative Committee accuses Plahotniuc of violating Article 30 Part 2 and Article 105 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which concern murder attempts by a mercenary group for motives based on political, ideological, racial, ethnic or religious hatred or enmity, Interfax reported.

A source quoted by refused to reveal more about the investigation involving Plahotniuc, noting only that the crimes were not committed in Russia. 

“At the request of the investigator, a preventive measure was chosen against Plahotniuc in the form of confinement in absentia,” Tsareva said.

Rusbalt assumes that the investigation against Plahotniuc regards the murder attempt by Moldovan killer Vitaly Proka against Russian banker Gherman Gorbuntsov in London in 2012. Proka recently testified that Plahotniuc ordered the attempt. 

However, Gorbuntsov himself has questioned Plahotniuc’s involvement, saying that he had no argument or conflict with the Moldovan politician. Gorbuntsov has accused fugitive Moldovan businessman and politician Renato Usatii of having ordered his assassination.

Meanwhile, Usatii, who is currently in Moscow and is an outspoken critic of Plahotnuic, claimed in an online public statement on December 6 that Plahotniuc had ordered Interior Minister Alexandru Jizdan to bring him to Moldova “dead or alive”. It is possible that Usatii placed a complaint to Russian investigators against Plahotniuc.

Plahotniuc “was placed on the international wanted list,” Tsareva added in her December 6 statement. However, previous attempts by the Russian authorities to get Interpol to issue arrest orders against individuals have frequently failed as Russia was not able to demonstrate that it did not have political motives (such as in the case of British businessman Bill Browder in 2017). 

Individual Interpol member countries can, however, unilaterally place individuals on a particular Interpol list of arrest demands by a document called “diffusion” (which must include the specific accusations against individuals and is differently treated by individual Interpol member countries).

The Democratic Party claimed in an official note that Plahotniuc, as well as other Moldovan politicians, have been subject to harassment by the Russian authorities specifically because Moldovan investigators are closer to identifying the authors involved in the “Russian laundromat” involving the laundering of $20bn through Moldovan banks (particularly Moldindconbank). 

Prime Minister Pavel Filip and parliament speaker Andrian Candu summoned Russian ambassador Farid Muhametshin on March 9 this year over what they called “the harassment of Moldovan officials” by the Russian authorities. Filip and Candu stressed that the issue was not of a political nature but involved “a Russian intelligence service”, most likely the Federal Security Service (FSB).