Sandu on Cutting the Number of Russian Diplomats: Response to Hostile Actions

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“Recently, unfortunately, we have faced a lot of hostile actions from the Kremlin. I recall on the energy blackmail all these years, but especially last autumn. Attempts by some Kremlin forces to overthrow the government in Chisinau. Attempts that we saw in winter, but also this spring. We continue to watch attempts by the Kremlin to distort the democratic processes in Moldova. When dirty money is used to buy votes, it is also used to buy mayors. I have seen similar methods used in the case of the elections in Gagauzia this year. And our response to these attempts of destabilization, our response to the Russian Federation’s disrespect for our independence and sovereignty is the decision to limit the number of Russian diplomats in Moldova,” the Moldovan president said in an interview with RFI. Commenting on statements by Russian officials who regarded Chisinau’s decision as an unfriendly move that would affect Moldovan-Russian relations, the president said that “it is not the first time when the Russian Federation threatens Moldova.” “We see much more serious things that the Russian Federation is doing in Ukraine. We are aware of these risks. At the same time, Moldova has many friends, it has strong friends, and in recent years we have demonstrated that together, with the support of these external partners, we resist. We manage to ensure stability, security for our citizens, we manage to continue our development programs, to follow our European integration path,” the head of state noted. Maia Sandu was asked whether the Chisinau authorities are preparing other measures to prevent spying in the context of Moscow’s recent actions. “Our institutions remain alert. We analyze the risks; we know that they persist. We will have to make more efforts in the struggle against Russian disinformation and propaganda. Parliament recently approved the creation of the Centre for Strategic Communication and Combating Disinformation. In the coming weeks, I will put forward a proposal for the head of this institution. We are going to build a team and to fund the activities of this institution. Again, we expect the support and advice of countries that have such an institution and have demonstrated effectiveness in combating Russian propaganda. There are several candidates for the head of the new body with whom we are negotiating. We will make an announcement soon. All the institutions should become strong enough to protect the Moldovan citizen from the risks coming from Moscow,” the president concluded. 45 Russian diplomats, as well as employees from among the technical staff of the Russian Embassy in Chisinau and their family members left Moldova. Thus, Moldova’s diplomatic parity is established and the Russian Embassy in Chisinau will now have 10 diplomatic posts and 15 administrative, technical and service positions out of 75.