When thousands of protesters gathered last month outside Moldova’s presidential palace calling for the country’s pro-Western leader to step down, the man behind the demonstration — an opposition party leader in exile in Israel — soon received plaudits from Moscow.
One senior Russian politician praised the protest organizer, Ilan Shor, as “a worthy long-term partner” and even offered the Moldovan region led by Shor’s party a cheap Russian gas deal, according to Shor’s press service. Referred to as “the young one” by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the 35-year-old Shor is a leading figure in the Kremlin’s efforts to subvert this former Soviet republic, intelligence documents and interviews with Moldovan, Ukrainian and Western officials show.
The documents — part of a trove of sensitive materials obtained by Ukrainian intelligence and reviewed by The Washington Post — illustrate how Moscow continues to try to manipulate countries in Eastern Europe even as its military campaign in Ukraine falters. The FSB has funneled tens of millions of dollars from some of Russia’s biggest state companies to cultivate a network of Moldovan politicians and reorient the country toward Moscow, the documents and interviews indicate.
The U.S. Treasury on Wednesday imposed sanctions on multiple Russian or Moldovan organizations and individuals including Shor, saying he was “coordinating with representatives of other oligarchs to create political unrest in Moldova” and had “received Russian support,” as well as working in June “with Moscow-based entities to undermine” Moldova’s bid to join the European Union.
Moscow has long supported a breakaway enclave inside Moldova’s borders that is occupied by Russian troops, and the frozen conflict there has been a brake on Moldova’s efforts to integrate with Western Europe. [Continue reading…]