In Moldova: dismantling of a group linked to Russia and new demonstration | War in Ukraine
People march with a 'No to war in Moldova' banner during a demonstration initiated by the People's Movement and members of the pro-pro-Shor Moldovan party Russia, against the pro-Western government in Chisinau, Moldova.
Moldovan police announced on Sunday the arrest of members of a network they suspect of being orchestrated by Russia with the aim of destabilizing Moldova, on the occasion of x27;a new demonstration against the pro-European government of this neighboring country of Ukraine.
The authorities of this former Soviet republic are on high alert on background of heightened tensions with Moscow, which seeks to install a government committed to its cause, according to Washington.
After searches on Saturday evening, 25 men were questioned and seven of them were taken into custody, police chief Viorel Cernauteanu told a press conference.
An agent was able to infiltrate the group led by a Russian-Moldavian, he said, citing ten hours of incriminating video and audio recordings.
People have come from Russia with a specific training role, added the official who did not give more details on their identity.
The investigators explained that they acted after receiving information on the organization by the Russian secret services of destabilization actions on our territory through demonstrations.
Upstream of a new rally on Sunday in the capital Chisinau, border controls had been tightened: a total of 182 foreign nationals were banned from entering during the week, including a possible member of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner , the police wrote in a statement.
The demonstration was punctuated by a few scuffles, in a tense atmosphere, noted a journalist from Agence France-Presse (AFP), shortly after bomb threats notably disrupted the functioning of Chisinau airport.
A few thousand people gathered in front of the Parliament and tried to reach the seat of government, but they were stopped by the forces of the #x27;order, which made 54 arrests.
Among the organizers of this rally, the party of fugitive pro-Russian oligarch Ilhan Shor, suspected by the police of paying demonstrators.
In the crowd, many Moldovans suffering of soaring energy prices demanded the resignation of pro-European President Maia Sandu, shouting: Down with dictatorship!.
With our miserable retreats, the winter was harsh. Nobody comes to see us, nobody listens to us, lamented Irina, 62, from a town near the pro-Russian separatist region of Transdniestria in eastern Moldova. She refused to give her last name.
We are supposed to be a democracy. We came here peacefully, we have no knives or bombs, was indignant, on condition of anonymity, another protester, blue hat and scarf.
In a speech, Marina Tauber, a member of the Shor party, for her part said that Ms. Sandu wanted to drag Moldova into the war.
The White House on Friday accused Russia to seek to destabilize this country of 2.6 million inhabitants, independent since 1991 with Romanian as its official language.
The United States had announced that it had strengthened its sharing of x27;information with Moldovan leaders so they can investigate further and thwart Russian plans.
Moldova, formerly in Russia's zone of influence, is now ruled by authorities resolutely turned towards European integration.
She must however come to terms with Transnistria, where the separatist authorities on Thursday called on the UN to investigate a plan to attack several senior officials attributed to Kiev.
The Ukrainian security services (SBU) immediately called these allegations a provocation orchestrated by the Kremlin.
In addition to the danger of destabilization of Moldova, this new episode of tensions has fueled fears of a widening conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
Since Russia launched its offensive, speculation has been emerging regularly on the opening of a new front from Transdniestria towards the major southern Ukrainian port city, Odessa.