A trove of sensitive materials obtained by Ukrainian intelligence and reviewed by The Washington Post illustrates how Moscow continues to try to manipulate countries in Eastern Europe. The FSB has funneled tens of millions of dollars from some of Russia’s biggest state companies to cultivate a network of Moldovan politicians and reorient the country toward Moscow, the documents and interviews indicate, IPN reports, quoting the publication.
Until recently, the documents show, the FSB’s primary vehicle in Moldova was the Socialist Party, headed by Igor Dodon, who served as Moldova’s pro-Moscow president between 2016 and 2020. Igor Chaika, a Russian businessman who is the son of Russia’s former prosecutor general, has never hidden his close connections with Dodon: He has jointly owned businesses in Russia with Dodon’s younger brother in real estate and waste management since 2019, according to official company registration documents.
The Socialist Party strategy backfired badly, however, in 2020 when the Moldovan population rejected Dodon after he became mired in a series of corruption scandals. In one secretly recorded video leaked in 2019, Dodon admitted to receiving Kremlin funding — including from Gazprom — and said he required $800,000 to $1 million per month to cover his party’s “running costs.”
According to The Washington Post, when thousands of protesters gathered last month outside Moldova’s presidential palace calling for the country’s pro-Western leader to step down, the man behind the demonstration — an opposition party leader in exile in Israel — soon received plaudits from Moscow.
One senior Russian politician praised the protest organizer, Ilan Shor, as “a worthy long-term partner” and even offered the Moldovan region led by Shor’s party a cheap Russian gas deal, according to Shor’s press service. Referred to as “the young one” by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the 35-year-old Shor is a leading figure in the Kremlin’s efforts to subvert this former Soviet republic, intelligence documents and interviews with Moldovan, Ukrainian and Western officials show.
Management control of Moldova’s two main pro-Russian TV channels was transferred to a close Shor associate at the end of September, according to Shor and the head of Moldova’s media oversight council, providing him with a major platform to advance a Moscow-aligned agenda in this small country sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania. In addition, intercepted communications show, the FSB sent a team of Russian political strategists to advise Shor’s party. And, according to the documents, the FSB oversaw a deal in which a Russian oligarch acquired one of Shor’s main assets, to shield it from the Moldovan authorities.
The Shor party was to be positioned as one “of concrete action,” populist “in the real sense of the word,” a party that was “changing people’s lives for the better,” the Russian strategists wrote in a report to the FSB, which was among the documents reviewed by The Washington Post.