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Moldovan ex-president detained for alleged graft, treason

May 24, 2022

Ex-Moldovan President Igor Dodon is accused of taking bribes. The pro-Russia politician was in office from 2016 until 2020.

Igor Dodon speaking to reporters after voting in parliamentary elections in 2021.
Dodon has reportedly been taken into custody for 72 hoursImage: REUTERS

Igor Dodon, the pro-Russia ex-president of Moldova, has been arrested in Chisinau on suspicion of high treason, according to multiple media reports on Tuesday.

Dodon has been detained by authorities for 72 hours, Deschide.MD quoted Moldova's acting prosecutor general, Dumitru Robu, as saying.

Who is Igor Dodon?

Dodon was elected president of Moldova in 2016 and served until he lost the 2020 election to Maia Sandu, a former World Bank official who ran on a pro-EU, anti-corruption ticket.

Interfax said searches were being conducted at Dodon's home and at the Moldovan-Russian Business Union, a trade body founded by Dodon in 2022.

Interfax reports that the arrest follows the reopening of an investigation into the so-called pileup affair, concerning video evidence of bribes being taken.

Moldova: The exodus continues

In the video, Dodon is seen to accept a "pile," apparently containing money, from oligarch and then-leader of the Democratic Party Vladimir Plahotniuc. The cash was supposedly intended to finance Dodon's party.

In 2020, prosecutor Alexander Stoyanoglo declined to investigate the case, citing a lack of evidence. 

The country has been hit by several political crises and a $1 billion (€930 million) bank fraud scheme, which equates to almost 15% of its annual economic output.

What does Russia think?

The Kremlin said it was concerned about the arrest of one of its allies in the country.

"Of course we are concerned," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call with reporters. "We hope that Dodon's rights will be respected."

Sandu's Party of Action and Solidarity had been endorsed by Germany's defense minister at the time Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and the former European Council president Donald Tusk, while Dodon was supported by Vladimir Putin.

Neighboring Romania's president, Klaus Iohannis, had lavishly praised Sandu after their first meeting, viewing her victory as a signal of a new dawn in the country.

Russia has had troops in Transnistria, a breakaway region of Moldova, since 1992. The Kremlin has said it would withdraw them under international pressure but failed to do so.

In April, a Russian general said controlling southern Ukraine could be a way to open a land bridge to Transnistria. He added that Russian speakers in the region needed "protection" from Moldova, where most of the population speaks Romanian.

er/aw (Reuters, Interfax)