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Investigative Stories from Ukraine: Leaked document reveals alleged Russia’s plan to gain control of Moldova by 2030

by Alexander Khrebet March 22, 2023 9:18 PM 6 min read
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The Kyiv Independent’s exclusive

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Leaked document reveals Russia’s alleged plan to gain control over Moldova by 2030

A group of U.S. and European media outlets, including the Kyiv Independent, obtained a document allegedly describing Russia’s plans to dominate Moldova by 2030.

The document details Russia's gradual project to increase its already strong influence over Moldovan politics, economy, and defense by the end of the decade.

According to the document, Russia’s key goals by 2030 are for Moldova to have stable pro-Russian groups of influence throughout its political and economic elite circles, with policymakers and society having a negative attitude toward NATO.

The alleged plan also highlighted the preservation of Russian-language education in Moldova, according to the document.

By the end of the decade, companies from Russian-friendly regions of Gagauzia and Transnistria were supposed to gain more power in Moldova, making the country’s economy depend on Russia's market and gas, with an increased role for the Russian ruble.

A Western intelligence source, who spoke anonymously, said the Kremlin's Directorate for Cross-Border Cooperation had allegedly created the document, titled “Strategic goals of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Moldova,” in 2021.

Read the full story in English here.

Leaked document reveals alleged Kremlin plan to take over Belarus by 2030

Top investigative stories

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Defense Ministry planned to buy food at inflated prices, procurement contracts reveal

Schemes, the investigative project of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, got its hands on all of the Defense Ministry’s procurement contracts to buy food for the military in 2023.

A review of these documents found that some food prices continued to be inflated above their market value.

The combined value of these contracts is about Hr 23 billion or $790,000. There were eight contracts in total, each with a different supplier.

In January 2023, ZN.UA first exposed the ministry for procuring food for the army at prices two to three times higher than it costs in Kyiv grocery stores. An entity named Active Company was the contractor.

On March 13, the Bihus.Info investigative outlet found the Defense Ministry contracted a company named Harna Strava to supply food to the army at prices around 40% above the market value.

Now, Schemes got its hands on the ministry’s contracts with all eight suppliers, including Active Company, Harna Strava and six others, whose names the investigators did not publish.

The Defense Ministry told Schemes it believes that disclosing the contractors without their consent “creates threats to the national security of Ukraine.”

The ministry first denied but later admitted that some contracts specified above-average prices for food. Following the scandal, in January, the ministry revoked its procurement contracts but in February, it signed new deals with the same suppliers.

The new contracts are for three months, rather than 12 months like the old ones were. Some of the food prices have come down as well. However, other goods continued to have prices that are inflated by 40% to 50%, according to the investigation.Active Company told Schemes that it was able to reduce procurement prices by finding cheaper produce. The company then explained its pricing strategy by saying that it needs money to pay for logistics.

The Defense Ministry said the procurement system has flaws they seek to eliminate.

Read the full story in the Ukrainian language here.

Slidstvo.Info identifies Russian soldier who threatened to kill civilians near Chornobyl Exclusion Zone

An investigative report by Slidstvo.Info has identified Russian soldiers who allegedly threatened to shoot civilians in the town of Ivankiv in Kyiv Oblast. The town is a gateway into the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone surrounding the decommissioned nuclear power plant.

According to Slidstvo.Info, Belik Bazarzhapov, a Russian soldier of the 37th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade, stopped a civilian car while Russian forces were occupying the northern part of Kyiv Oblast in March 2022. Bazarzhapov allegedly threatened civilians with the weapon and ordered them to leave the car.

Bazarzhapov reportedly looted a cell phone and hit the driver with a rifle stock after searching the civilian car.

A Russian attempt to encircle Kyiv failed in late March 2022, and Russian forces withdrew from northern Chernihiv, Sumy, and Kyiv oblasts, including the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, in early April.

Schemes reported that Bazarzhapov, 37, is married and has two children. The family lives in the city of Chita in Russia’s Zabaykalsky Krai, almost 7,000 kilometers (4,350 miles) from Ukraine.

In November, the Prosecutor General’s Office charged Bazarzhapov with violating laws and customs of war.

Schemes haven't found evidence of whether Bazarzhapov is still fighting in Ukraine.

Read the full story in the Ukrainian language here.

Independent Russian media finds pro-Kremlin propagandists’ foreign property

While Russia’s state propaganda continues denouncing the West, some of its most prominent figures invest in real estate in the same countries they claim to despise.

Russian media outlet iStories found another villa on Lake Como in Italy allegedly owned by Vladimir Soloviyov, a propaganda talk show host that airs five nights a week discussing the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Soloviyov, who is sanctioned by the EU, U.K., Canada, Australia, Japan and Ukraine, registered the 434-square-meter villa in Italy under the name of his mother, Inna Soloviyova, according to the investigation. His assets in the EU have been frozen and he is banned from entering the bloc. Italy seized Soloviyov’s villa on Lake Como in March 2022.

iStories also found a 74-square-meter apartment in the Spanish town of Torrevieja, a 1,337-square-meter house in Cadiz, and a 100-square-meter house in Alacanta registered under Anna Mikhalkova, a daughter of Russian director and propagandist Nikita Mikhalkov, who is sanctioned by the EU and Ukraine.

Russia’s state-owned First Channel host Artyom Sheynin owns a 100-square-meter apartment on the Baltic Sea shore in Lithuania’s city of Palanga, the investigation found.

Sheynin and his wife Olga purchased the apartment for $75,000 in 2014. The Lithuanian authorities freeze this asset due to Western sanctions against Sheynin.

iStories uncovered that Irina Brilyova, the wife of Sergey Brilyov, a former host of Russia’s state television Rossiya 1, owns an apartment in London purchased for over $850,000 in 2016.

Both, Sergey and Irina Brilyovs, are dual citizens of Russia and the U.K. The British government in March 2022 sanctioned Brilyov, saying he was part of Russia's propaganda machine justifying Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

Oleg Gazmanov, a Russian singer touring to support Russia’s war, owns residential property in Latvia and a 135-square-meter villa in Italy alongside his wife, Marina Gazmanova, according to iStories.

Under the EU sanctions, Gazmanov is no longer allowed to enter the EU and access any of his assets.

Read the full story in Russian here.

Impact

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SBU confirms former intelligence service official’s family has Russian citizenship

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) confirmed the existence of Russian citizenship for the family members of Serhii Semochko, who was a deputy head of Ukraine's Foreign Intelligence Service from 2018 until 2019.

Bihus.Info journalists found in 2018 that Semochko's wife and two adopted children had acquired Russian passports in occupied Crimea.

On March 17, Bihus.Info obtained an SBU finding, according to which, Semochko’s wife Tetiana Lysenko, 59; Lysenko’s daughter, Anastasiia Koton, 34; and her husband Volodymyr Koton, 36, have valid Russian passports and tax numbers.

The SBU also said that Tetiana Lysenko’s son, Stanyslav Lysenko, also has a valid Russian passport and tax number.

Six months after the story first broke in 2018, Semochko was fired from the Foreign Intelligence Service.

However, he is still trying to get his Foreign Intelligence Service job back through the courts, according to the report.

The date of the next hearing in the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court is yet unknown.

Watch the full story by Bihus.Info in Ukrainian here.

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