By Madalin Necsutu
The General Prosecutor’s Office in Moldova announced on Tuesday that it has initiated a criminal investigation into the country’s pro-Russian President Igor Dodon over allegations that his Socialist Party has received up to $1 million a month from Moscow.
The Prosecutor’s Office said it launched the investigation “in connection with the appearance in the public space of data that questioned the legality of funding for political parties”.
“In the investigation process, prosecutors have begun a series of activities aimed at objectively clarifying the circumstances of the case, including taking evidence and hearing individuals,” it added.
This case was opened after the Publika TV station, allegedly affiliated to the Democrat Party led by Moldovan tycoon Vlad Plahotniuc, broadcast a video on Sunday showing Dodon and Plahotniuc negotiating over forming a new governing majority in parliament.
In the video, Dodon appears to admit that he received between $700,000 and $1 million per month from Moscow to support the operating costs of the Socialist Party, PSRM, but said that since April 1, the Russian funding has stopped.
Dodon appears to say in the video that he asked Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak on June 6 what to do next regarding the funding of the PSRM.
He then appears to say that Kozak promised him that he would talk to Plahotniuc about giving Dodon money for the party.
Dodon insisted on Monday that the footage was edited in such a way that it twisted his words and took them out of context. Asked directly by reporters if he received money from Russia, Dodon avoided a straight answer.
“All of these elements, some of them ripped out of context, are video-edited. No party can be externally funded,” said Dodon.
On Monday night, Dodon said during an appearance on a political talk-show that he might become the victim of a political assassination, but some analysts in Chisinau speculated that the claim was an attempt to shift public attention away from the Russian funding affair.
On Sunday night, Moldovan media alleged that Dodon spent the night at the Russian Embassy as he was afraid of being arrested. Dodon denied the claim.