ISSN 2330-717X

Moldova Intelligence Denies Role In Abduction Of Ukrainian Judge

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By Madalin Necsutu

Moldova’s Intelligence and Security Service, SIS, has denied any involvement in the forced rendition to Ukraine in early April of a Ukrainian judge, Mykola Chaus, who had fled to Moldova.

Chaus had been hiding from Ukrainian prosecutors in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, since 2007. The Kyiv authorities had repeatedly insisted on his extradition.

Chaus was abducted from the centre of Chisinau on April 3 by Ukrainian special services and quickly transported across the border to Ukraine, according to RISE Moldova’s investigations into the case. Sergey Smetaniuk, a military attaché at the Ukrainian Embassy in Chisinau, allegedly led the operation.

An alleged internal document from the SIS, published on Thursday by news portal Newsmaker, contains 29 names of SIS workers reportedly involved in the abduction. The leaked document is already with Moldovan prosecutors investigating the abduction.

Moldovan special services denied any involvement in the possible abduction of the Ukrainian. “The so-called document issued by the SIS, referred to in the media, is a forgery,” the SIS stated in a press release.

“At the same time, investigations into this case are ongoing, and the SIS provides constant support to law enforcement bodies in elucidating all the circumstances and establishing the persons involved,” it said.

Immediately after the abduction, Moldova’s interim Interior Minister, Pavel Voicu, announced that a person had been detained in the case, without indicating who he was.

Smetaniuk was subsequently detained by the Moldovan authorities who asked Ukraine on April 13 to lift his diplomatic immunity, so Moldova could try him.

In August 2016, Chaus was caught in Ukraine having allegedly received a bribe of $150,000. During searches of his house, Ukrainian authorities found money, allegedly from the bribe, hidden in jars in the garden behind his house.

Chaus then surrendered himself at a police station in Chisinau in March 2017, admitting that he had illegally crossed the border into Moldova.

The reported kidnapping came after the Supreme Court of Justice in Chisinau on March 3 rejected Chaus’s request for a presidential ruling to reverse the denial of his petition for political asylum in Moldova.

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Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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