Arrest of ex-president Igor Dodon comes at a time when relations between Moscow and Chisinau are increasingly strained.
A court in Moldova has placed the country’s former President Igor Dodon under 30-day house arrest as he faces an investigation into suspected treason, corruption, illicit enrichment, and illegal party financing.
Moldova has firmly backed Kyiv since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine, and the arrest of pro-Russia Dodon comes at a time when relations between Moscow and Chisinau are increasingly strained.
The 30-day house arrest ruling on Thursday follows after Dodon, who served as Moldova’s president from 2016 to 2020 and leads the Eastern European country’s pro-Russian opposition bloc, was detained on Tuesday at his home in the capital of Chisinau after it was searched by investigators.
Speaking as he left the courtroom, Dodon claimed the charges against him were politically motivated and at the behest of foreign powers. He told journalists that the judge was carrying out a “political order” from pro-Western President Maia Sandu, who succeeded Dodon in 2020.
“It is a political issue aimed at neutralising the opposition,” Dodon said in a video published by Moldovan news site Protv.md.
“It is strange and despicable for those who … filled all the state institutions with foreign, Romanian, American and German advisers, who control all of the institutions, to accuse me of treason,” he said.
Dodon has denied all wrongdoing.
One of Europe’s poorest countries, Moldova is an ex-Soviet republic that gained independence in 1991.
Russia maintains troops in the separatist Moldovan region of Transnistria, which is also known as Transdniestria, a disputed, Russian-backed breakaway state that borders southwestern Ukraine. In recent months, Russian separatists in the breakaway region have blamed neighbouring Ukraine for what they said were shootings, explosions and drone incursions – raising fears that Moldova could be drawn into the conflict in Ukraine.
The Kremlin earlier said it was concerned at reports that Dodon had been detained, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling on Moldovan authorities to respect his rights.