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Moldova warns of Russian interference in elections, EU accession

by Martin Fornusek March 6, 2024 12:24 PM 2 min read
The flag of the Republic of Moldova (l) hangs next to the flag of the European Union on Oct. 22, 2023 in Chisinau, Moldova. (Sebastian Gollnow/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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Moldova's intelligence agency warned that Russia will seek to destabilize the country as it prepares for the presidential election and a referendum on EU membership, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on March 5.

Tensions between Moscow and Chisinau have been mounting since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine amid fears that the war may spill into Moldova. Moldovan officials have repeatedly accused Russia of election interference and destabilization attempts.

Alexandru Musteata, the head of the Moldovan intelligence agency (SIS), said that the SIS possesses "certain information" about Russia's destabilization campaign in the next two years designed to compromise Chisinau's European integration and draw the country back into the Kremlin's orbit.

"The details point to strategies for 2024 and 2025 that involve supporting pro-Russian political actors with ties to intelligence services, organized crime groups, and Kremlin leadership," Musteata said at a press conference on March 5.

Russia aims to compromise the EU membership referendum, which is scheduled for autumn 2024 and will be followed by the presidential election. Current President Maia Sandu will run for re-election after she put the country on a decisively pro-EU course, helping to secure Chisinau's membership candidacy and accession talks.

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According to Musteata, the Kremlin will also seek to influence the 2025 parliamentary elections through pro-Russian political forces, namely those close to fugitive pro-Russian oligarch Ilan Shor.

The SIS chief further warned about Russia manufacturing "socio-political crises" and "social clashes" to "incite inter-ethnic hatred" in relation to the Russian-controlled Moldovan region of Transnistria and the autonomous region of Gagauzia.

Russia has occupied Transnistria since the early 1990s on the grounds of allegedly protecting local Russian-language speakers. Transnistria's authorities recently appealed to Moscow for "protection" from what they claim are Moldovan threats, but the Kremlin has not yet given a clear answer.

Gaguazia, an autonomous territorial unit in southern Moldova, is home to the Turkic-speaking Gaguaz minority and has been called the most pro-Russian region in the country.

Kyiv says it will ‘firmly respond’ if Moscow attempts to involve Transnistria in the war
Kyiv will “firmly respond” to any attempts to involve the Russian-controlled Moldovan region of Transnistria in Russia’s war against Ukraine and destabilize the situation in Moldova, the Foreign Ministry said amid increased Russian pressure on the Eastern European country.
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