Kremlin ‘planned political takeover of Moldova’

Istanbul:Russia plans to effectively take control of Moldova by the end of the decade, according to a leaked Kremlin document.

Moscow drew up a detailed plan to bring the former Soviet nation into its orbit by 2030, several European media outlets and the Dossier Centre, a non-government organisation funded by Russia’s former richest man Mikhail Khodorkovsky, reported on Wednesday.

The plan to infiltrate Moldovan politics and media landscape would have meant Russia dominated national affairs without having to launch an invasion.

New Moldovan Prime Minister Dorin Recean says his people have been brainwashed by Russian propaganda and wants everyone to see the leaked document.Credit:AP

Moldova is not part of NATO and pro-Russian separatists control the breakaway state of Transnistria.

The memo, drawn up in 2021, reveals Moscow’s fears that the election of pro-Western president Maia Sandu the year before was pulling the country out of its reach.

The Kremlin planned to deploy intelligence officers and local “agents of influence”, as well as use the media, to foster pro-Russian views.

By 2025, Moscow hoped it would have a “sustainable functioning of a system of organisational, financial, legal and information support of NGOs friendly to Russia”.

By 2030, the Kremlin would effectively have Moldova under its control as the country would have joined Russia-centred Eurasian Economic Union and other groups and NATO’s influence would subside.

Dr Hong, Tao-Tze, president of the Federation of World Peace and Love, right, presents the “Key to the Heart” to Irina Vlah, governor of the Moldovan autonomous region of Gagauzia, during the 26th Eurasian Economic Summit on Monday.Credit:AP

The role of Russian media in Moldova would grow and Russian would be made a regional language by that year.

Moscow was also hoping to “neutralise” Moldova’s efforts to kick out Russia’s military base from Transnistria.

The memo was drafted by the same presidential directorate on cross-border cooperation that penned a similar document for Belarus that outlined its effective annexation with the input from Russia’s intelligence community.

Moscow considers Moldova’s new president, Maia Sandu, to be too pro-West.Credit:Keystone/AP

Moldovan authorities have not commented on the memo, but the country’s Prime Minister Dorin Recean, who assumed office also last month, said it confirmed his fears that the Kremlin has been using Russian state TV, widely available in Moldova until recently, to brainwash citizens.

“Thirty-something years of propaganda – we see the effect of it now,” Recean was quoted by Dossier as saying.

“I would be very happy if people in Moldova saw this document.”

Moldova is Europe’s poorest country and Russia has bankrolled some political groups there for years.

John Kirby, spokesman for the US National Security Council, said last week the Kremlin was seeking to “destabilise” the government in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital, “probably with the eventual goal of seeing a more Russia-friendly administration”.

“More specifically, Russian actors, some with current ties to Russian intelligence, are seeking to stage and use protests in Moldova as a basis to foment a manufactured insurrection against the Moldova government,” he said.

Elderly protesters rest on a podium as Marina Tauber the vice-president of Moldova’s Russia-friendly Shor Party speaks during a protest initiated by the Movement for the People and her party, against the pro-Western government and living standards in Chisinau, the capital.Credit:AP

In recent months Moldova has witnessed sustained anti-government protests funded by pro-Russian tycoon Ilan Shor who was convicted of fraud in connection with the world’s biggest ever bank heist in the country.

The political party founded by Shor, who was found guilty of siphoning off $US360 million ($542 million) from a local bank in 2014, has been bankrolling the protests that tap into widespread discontent with galloping energy prices and low living standards.

Shor is one of the three people convicted of bank frauds costing Moldova 10 per cent of its annual GDP.

Sandu, a former World Bank employee hailed for her anti-corruption credentials, last week accused the Kremlin of plotting to topple her government, saying Moscow has been “training people disguised as civilians to carry out violent acts, attacks on government buildings and taking hostages”.

The Telegraph, London

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