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Moldova expels head of Sputnik’s Moldova branch

by Martin Fornusek September 13, 2023 3:59 PM 2 min read
Pro-Ukrainian protests at the Russian embassy in Chisinau, Moldova, April 9, 2022. (Photo credit: Pablo Miranzo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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The Moldovan authorities expelled Vitaly Denisov, the head of the Russian-controlled propaganda site Sputnik Moldova, for a period of 10 years, the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on Sept. 13, citing the country's Migration and Asylum Office.

According to the official statement, Denisov was removed from the country under escort for his activities that were "threatening the informational security" of Moldova.

The Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported on Denisov's expulsion earlier on Sept. 13.

"They wouldn't let me pack my things or take my pets. They handed me a copy of the decision telling me that I have to leave the country as a person who represents a threat to the national security of the Republic of Moldova," the head of the local Sputnik branch told RIA Novosti.

In response, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Moldova's charge d'affaires Sergiu Goncerenco to protest the expulsion, claiming it was "an attack against media."

Daniel Vodă, the spokesperson of the Moldovan government, commented that "the institution of which the respective citizen was a part was constantly dealing with informational attacks, lies, propaganda, and disinformation."

The Moldovan authorities blocked Sputnik Moldova shortly after the start of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, citing the risks of "disinformation affecting national security."

Tensions between the countries have been growing recently as Chişinău accuses the Kremlin of clandestine hostile acts against Moldova.

Moldovan President Maia Sandu warned that Russia is devoting significant resources to disinformation and propaganda campaigns to sow distrust between Moldova's citizens and their government.

In July, the Moldovan authorities expelled 45 Russian diplomats and embassy staff after a media investigation identified spy devices on the Russian embassy building in  Chişinău.

The relationship has been further strained by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on some occasions posing the risk of spillover of the conflict. Russia continues to occupy the Moldovan territory of Transnistria.

Investigation: Leaked document exposes Kremlin’s 10-year plan to undermine Moldova
Editor’s note: This story is a collaboration between the Kyiv Independent and media partners, including Delfi Meedia (Estonia), Expressen (Sweden), Dossier Center (U.K.), Rise Moldova, Frontstory, VSquare (Poland), Süddeutsche Zeitung, Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Rundfunk WDR, Norddeutscher Rundfunk (Ge…

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