Moldova Separatists Say Foil Ukraine-Backed ‘Terror’ Attack – The Moscow Times
Pro-Russian authorities in Moldova’s breakaway region on Thursday accused Kyiv of planning a foiled assassination attempt on the separatists’ leader, fuelling fears of a spillover of the Ukraine conflict.
Kyiv immediately denied the accusations and said any claims that Ukraine was behind an attack in Transnistria was a Kremlin-orchestrated plot.
The leader of the Moscow-backed enclave, Vadim Krasnoselsky, announced he would address residents in a live television broadcast at 18:30 GMT.
Transnistria is a narrow strip of land in the east of the ex-Soviet republic that borders Ukraine. It separated from Moldova after fighting in 1992 and Russia has maintained a contingent of troops there since.
Authorities in Tiraspol, the breakaway region’s administrative center, said they had detained two people and brought a raft of charges against them, including espionage, treason and terror offenses, and plans to commit murder.
Investigators said the suspects were operating “under the direct control and instructions of representatives of the security service of Ukraine (SBU) to carry out the murder of officials”.
They said the members of the sabotage group had planned to carry out the “terrorist act” on a busy road in the center of Tiraspol. The foreign minister earlier said their plan was to detonate explosives near the separatist leader’s motorcade.
“To achieve this goal, the participants of the criminal group prepared a car with Pridnestrovian registration and packed it with explosives,” the regional Investigative Committee said in a statement, using another name for the separatist region.
Kyiv, which has become a close ally of the government in Moldova since the beginning of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine last year, dismissed the allegations.
Moldova to investigate
“Any statements by representatives … of the fake ‘People’s Republic of Transnistria’ regarding the participation of the SBU in the preparation of a terrorist attack should be considered exclusively as a provocation orchestrated by the Kremlin,” the SBU security services said in a statement.
Officials in the Moldovan capital Chisinau said they were ready to respond to any security threats and that they were investigating the claims of the alleged attack.
“We don’t have confirmation of these things… The government is ready to deal with provocations,” Prime Minister Dorin Recean told reporters.
The government meanwhile said it was “investigating the information about an alleged ‘terrorist’ attack in the Transnistrian region.”
Separatist security officials said earlier that the detained suspects had confessed.
Transnistria’s prosecutor Anatoly Guretsky said they targeted “top officials” in Tiraspol.
“They planned for there to be many victims because the terrorist attack was meant to take place in the centre of the capital.”
State-run television channel First Pridnestrovian said the suspects had planned to detonate a Land Rover with eight kilograms (18 pounds) of explosives.
It also aired images of an alleged perpetrator, a 40-year-old man which the channel reported “received orders from the Ukrainian security services.”
Moldova, a poor country of 2.6 million people with a sizeable Russian minority, has taken a pro-Western turn in recent years, angering Moscow.
Since the launch of the offensive in Ukraine a year ago, the Kremlin has been accused of raising tensions in Transnistria.
In late February, Russia accused Ukraine of stepping up preparations for an attack in Transnistria and vowed to retaliate to any provocation.
The Moldovan government dismissed the allegations and called for calm.
Moldovan President Maia Sandu last month accused Russia of plotting to violently overthrow her government through saboteurs disguised as anti-government protesters, claims that Russia denied.