Ex-president of Moldova arrested on corruption and treason charges

Ex-president of Moldova arrested on corruption and treason charges

A former Moldovan leader and critic of the country's pro-EU leadership has been detained.

The former Moldovan president Igor Dodon is facing four charges, including corruption and treason, according to his lawyer Maxim Lebedinsky on Wednesday.

The day before, Dodon, who headed the country from 2016 -- 2020, was arrested for 72 hours on suspicion of involvement in passive corruption, illegal financing of political parties, and illegal enrichment, according to the country's anti-corruption authority. The treason charge appears to have been added later.

Lebedinsky told the Sputnik news agency that the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office charged Dodon with four counts, including corruption and treason.

The detention period for Dodon and an unnamed second suspect could be extended, according to the TASS.

A Justice spokeswoman was quoted as saying that the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office sent a request to arrest ex-president Igor Dodon and another detainee for a period of 30 days.

She said the requests would be considered by the Chisinau District Court on Thursday.

Dodon denied all accusations, saying that he is not the first time that he has become a target of political and orchestrated justice. He claimed that he has the necessary explanations that remove any suspicion of corruption and violation of the law. The charges are linked to the so-called bag case, according to a statement by the prosecutor's office. Video from the office of the Democratic Party of Moldova shows businessman Vladimir Plahotniuc, who headed the party, giving Dodon a bag, presumably with money. The president did not take the bag, telling Plahotniuc to give it to another person. The two men's conversation revealed that the funds were intended to finance Dodon's Party of Socialists PSRM. The video was released in 2020 but at the time prosecutors decided not to initiate a criminal case, citing insufficient evidence. Under Moldovan law, recordings made without a prosecutor's permission and without the participation of law enforcement can not be considered evidence in court. The criminal investigation was ordered by interim General Prosecutor Dumitru Robu last week.

Prosecutors said on Tuesday that significant amounts of money and luxury items were seized during searches of ten buildings and three cars, which had been conducted as part of an investigation.

One of the people tried to destroy the documents found at home, which confirmed the sale-purchase transactions of real estate worth about 700,000 euros, the authority claimed in a statement.

According to the media reports, the person who is allegedly trying to destroy the evidence was Dodon's brother-in- law Petru Merineanu, who is reportedly the second person detained along with the former president.

In response to Dodon's arrest, the Party of Socialists, considered to be pro-Russian, has already organized protests in Chisinau and plans to hold more on Thursday.

The PSRM demands the release of the ex-president of the country, Igor Dodon, and the termination of criminal cases fabricated by order, the party said in a statement.

It accused the pro-EU Action and Solidarity party, along with current Moldovan President, Maia Sandu, of trying to intimidate political opponents and establish a dictatorship in the Republic of Moldova. Moscow is concerned that such practices and persecution are being used against the supporters of the development of friendly, mutually beneficial relations with the Russian Federation, as a spokesman for Dodon's detention, according to Russian Federation spokesman Dmitry Peskov. He stressed that it is an internal matter for Moldova.