Moldovan pro-Russian former president arrested amid invasion fears
Dodon was president from 2016 to 2020 and still heads Moldova’s pro-Russian opposition bloc. He was detained on Tuesday at his home in Chisinau when it was searched by the authorities.
The Kremlin said it was concerned at reports that Dodon had been detained, with Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling on the Moldovan authorities to respect his rights.
Dodon told the media that the charges were politically motivated and taken because of international pressure.
He claimed the judge was carrying out a “political order” from pro-western President Maia Sandu, who replaced Dodon in 2020.
“It is a political issue aimed at neutralising the opposition,” Dodon said in an online video. “It is strange and despicable for those who … filled all the state institutions with foreign, Romanian, American and German advisers, who control all of the institutions, to accuse me of treason.”
Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest countries, applied to join the European Union on March 3, a week after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Dodon posted on Facebook: “This is not the first time I have become the target of a politically directed and directed justice system.”
Pro-Russian figures across Europe are facing uncomfortable scrutiny. Last week, the German authorities stripped former chancellor Gerhard Schröder of some privileges enjoyed by an ex-head of government over his business ties with Russia and personal relationship with Vladimir Putin. Schröder resigned from the board of Russian energy producer Rosneft last week.
Around 1,500 Russian “peacekeepers” occupy the Moldovan region of Transnistria, a Russian-backed breakaway enclave bordering southwestern Ukraine.
A Russian general last month said the Kremlin aimed to gain control over southern and eastern Ukraine as a “way to Transnistria”, sparking fears Russia aimed to invade Moldova.
Igor Munteanu, Moldova’s former ambassador to the United States, l said this month that “statements coming from the Russian side that make it clear Moldova is a target and there may be plans to invade from Transnistria”.
In recent months, Russian separatists in the occupied region have blamed Ukraine for alleged shootings, explosions and drone incursions, raising fears that Moldova could become mired in Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s defence ministry said the blasts were carried out by Russian forces as a false-flag operation.
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