By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Moldovan President Maia Sandu said in an interview published on October 6 that the Wagner mercenary group founded by the now-deceased Yevgeny Prigozhin had planned a coup in Moldova.
Sandu told the Financial Times that according to government information, the coup was planned this year by Prigozhin’s team.
She also said money had been smuggled from Russia into Moldova, partly by couriers and partly through bank accounts in Dubai, and said that pro-Russian forces in Moldova will continue to be financed by Moscow to destabilize the country.
“The situation is really dramatic, and we have to protect ourselves,” Sandu said in the interview.
Sandu and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy first commented publicly in February about an alleged coup plot to topple the pro-Western government in Chisinau. Zelenskiy said then that the plan had been intercepted by his country’s intelligence services.
The Kremlin subsequently urged Moldova to exercise caution in its statements about Russian forces stationed in the breakaway Transdniester region, where an estimated 1,100 Russian troops remain deployed.
Sandu’s interview appeared as EU leaders met in Granada, Spain, to discuss the prospects for the accession of Moldova and other Eastern European countries. Sandu said that welcoming Moldova into the EU would be the best way to ensure Moldova’s security.
Prigozhin, 62, and several of his associates died in an unexplained plane crash in late August. He was buried on August 29 in a discreet ceremony.
Two months before his death, on June 23-24, Prigozhin sent thousands of his fighters in a short-lived rebellion against the military command fighting in Ukraine, imposing one of the biggest challenges to President Vladimir Putin in his more than two decades in power.
The insurrection came on the heels of months of intense public infighting between Prigozhin and Russia’s military leadership over the war strategy in Ukraine and ammunition supplies.
Wagner troops moved to Belarus after the unsuccessful mutiny. Reports on Telegram channels linked to the mercenary group have indicated that some of the group’s fighters left Belarus for Russia or for vacations, while some were transferred to operations in Africa.