Sanction pro-Russian oligarchs in Moldova, Georgia, urge EU foreign ministers

Sanction pro-Russian oligarchs in Moldova, Georgia, urge EU foreign ministers
Опубликовано: Monday, 20 March 2023 12:43

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted fears of interference from Moscow in former Soviet republics.


Several European foreign ministers called Monday for the EU to sanction oligarchs involved in “destabilization attempts” in Moldova and Georgia, amid rising fears of Russian interference.

“These two countries are facing destabilization attempts which require our greatest vigilance, and might justify that we start considering to target those responsible for these attempts,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said ahead of an EU foreign ministers’ meeting.

Both her Romanian and Estonian counterparts also called on the bloc to sanction pro-Russian oligarchs in Moldova.

Estonia’s Urmas Reinsalu said the EU ” ha[d] a responsibility to enlist and create a new sanctions mechanism against Russian proxy agents, against those oligarchs in Moldova who are preparing a coup.”

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has led to growing fears of interference from Moscow in former Soviet republics — most notably in Moldova, whose pro-EU president has publicly exposed Kremlin plans to overthrow the government.

Moldova was granted EU candidate status last June, together with Ukraine — while Georgia will have to implement several reforms first, including cracking down on oligarchs’ political and economic influence.

Earlier this month, Moldova’s Interior Minister Ana Revenco said “Moscow, interest groups and fugitive oligarchs” were joining forces to “change the democratic course in Chișinău,” in a thinly veiled reference to pro-Russian oligarch Ilan Shor, who has been accused of funding protests against Moldova’s pro-EU government.

Meanwhile, thousands of people demonstrated in Tbilisi two weeks ago to protest against a controversial “foreign agents” bill, which Georgia’s president said was dictated by Moscow.

The ruling Georgian Dream party voted the bill down three days later — but a growing number of Georgians fear their government is moving closer to Moscow under the party, which has been in power since 2012.

The party’s founder, ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, has close ties to Russia, where he built his fortune in the 1990s.

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