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Pro-Russia party holds protest in Moldova amid coup fears

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Protesters took to the streets of Moldova’s capital Chisinau on Sunday after U.S. and European officials expressed concern over allegations that Russia was trying to overthrow her government. requested dismissal.

The protests were peaceful and smaller than previous demonstrations last fall. But it came amid heightened political tensions in Moldova following new warnings of security threats to her population of 2.6 million, which borders Ukraine and Romania. . Transnistria, a separate region of Moldova, is already under Russian control.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who met Sandu in Munich over the weekend, said Washington warned By “Some of the Conspiracies We Saw Coming from Russia”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed earlier this month that Moscow was planning to sack Sandu. Last week, Sandu said Russia planned to “use foreigners for acts of violence” in Moldova.

Over the weekend, Zelensky’s adviser Mikhaylo Podoljak said Russia was trying to seize power, as it did in Ukraine a year ago. I want to do something else,” Podoljak told Moldova’s TV8 station.

Moscow denies the existence of the conspiracies, describing them as “fiction”. “We are led by Western sponsors on the same path as other countries.”

On Sunday, the UK shared an analysis of what caused Moldova’s airspace to be briefly closed last week following another security alert from Ukraine. British intelligence said on Twitter: “There is a real possibility that this is a Russian balloon drifting out of Ukrainian airspace.”

Ahead of Sunday’s protests, Moldovan authorities responded by restricting access for citizens from countries friendly to Moscow, including the Balkans. A team of Montenegrin boxers was barred from entering Moldova to take part in the tournament, and four Uzbek nationals were put on a flight back to Turkey after being caught with false documents on Sunday, border police said. .

of protest In Chisinau, the spotlight is on Ilan Shuol, the party’s leader, a Moldovan oligarch organized by a pro-Russian party and strongly supported by Moscow. Shuol fled to Israel after he was convicted in 2017 of being involved in a massive bank fraud in Moldova. The US has placed Shuol on a sanctions list and he is the subject of a new anti-corruption investigation in Moldova.

Ahead of Sunday’s protests, Moldovan police raided houses and detained some party members as part of an investigation into illegal party funding of the protests, according to the public prosecutor’s office.

A local police official told the FT that Xuol’s deputy leader, Marina Tauber, spoke at Sunday’s protests, which drew about 5,000 people.

EU MEP Siegfried Muresyan, who heads the European Parliament’s delegation in charge of relations with Moldova, said Sunday’s smaller-than-expected protests were a testament to the resilience of the Moldovan government and pro-Russian local politics. It shows the limits of Russia’s ability to fan dissatisfaction with the help of home. I was visiting the capital.

“If they couldn’t do a bigger protest today, I don’t think they can do much more in the near future,” Mreshan said. The Moldovan authorities have shown that “they know how to monitor and police things like this and keep order,” he added.

Many of Sunday’s protesters traveled from small towns to Chisinau by bus, with the costs covered by Shuol. But one pensioner who took part in the demonstration insisted that he only wanted to improve his financial situation and not help Russia come to power.

Retired physics teacher Constantine Severn said he shared concerns about rising energy bills, but stayed out of the protest as Schorr is sponsoring it.

“I don’t think the local people understand this, but most people here in Chisinau know that these demonstrations are being funded by robbery,” Sevan said.

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