Moldovan President Maia Sandu alleged that Russia has been funneling money into the country in an attempt to "buy" votes ahead of upcoming local elections in an interview with the Moldovan media outlet Jurnal TV on Nov. 1.
"Russia previously bought those people who were running Moldova," she said. "It no longer has that possibility. Now it is buying Moldovan citizens."
Moldova will hold mayoral and municipal elections on Nov. 5.
Russia has pumped more than $5 million to pro-Russian parties into Moldova in months, Sandu claimed, including to "criminal groups" like the banned Shor party.
Shor, headed by exiled businessman Ilan Shor, was banned in June 2023 by Moldova's Constitutional Court.
Both Shor and his political party have been under U.S. sanctions since October 2022. According to the U.S. Treasury, in 2021, Shor worked "with Russian individuals to create a political alliance to control Moldova's parliament, which would then support several pieces of legislation in the interests of the Russian Federation".
Shor was sentenced in absentia in Moldova to 15 years in prison for fraud and money laundering in April 2023.
Sandu, a pro-European politician elected president in 2020, has condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine and sought to remove Moldova from Russia's sphere of influence.
Russia has continued to put pressure on Moldova, weaponizing its energy supply, funneling money to pro-Russian parties as Sandu claimed, and even allegedly fomenting an attempted coup.
In addition to outlawing the Shor party, Moldova banned the re-broadcast of Russian television news, and recently blocked access to 22 Russian media sites, claiming they were being used as part of an "information war" against the country.