Moldovan Ex-President Dodon Placed Under House Arrest

CHISINAU -- A Moldovan court has placed former President Igor Dodon under house arrest for 30 days to allow prosecutors to investigate allegations of corruption and treason.

The May 26 decision by the Ciocana district court in Chisinau came two days after Dodon's house was searched and he was placed under detention for 72 hours.

Dodon told journalists after the hearing that the case was politically motivated, a charge the government has rejected.

Dodon, who was openly backed by Moscow and was seen as a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was president from 2016 to 2020, when he lost to Maia Sandu, a pro-Western, U.S.-educated former World Bank official.

Dodon said he had no property other than that which he had officially declared, and told journalists that the judge was carrying out a "political order" from Sandu. Dodon's brother-in-law, Petru Merineanu, was also arrested for 30 days, but he will be kept in a detention facility.

The government has rejected the allegation of political interference in the case, which comes as relations between Russia and Moldova are increasingly strained.

"Prosecutors should be guided only by the rule of law, not to play political games and not to make decisions based on public pressure," Sandu said on May 27 at a meeting of the Supreme Security Council.

"Everyone must be held accountable for the illegalities committed but in strict accordance with the law. The gentleman in question in this case, if he thinks he is honest, has nothing to worry about," Sandu said in her first comments on the investigation.

Justice Minister Sergiu Litvinenco said earlier that the case would be carried out "in strict accordance with the law," while Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu told RFE/RL that Dodon's case was part of Moldova's fight against corruption and "unrelated to geopolitical events."

"The fight against corruption starts from the top, from combating corruption among the political class among the oligarchs," Popescu told RFE/RL.

Russia has repeatedly voiced "concern" about Dodon's rights being respected, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying that Russia was "naturally alarmed that such a practice and persecution once again affects those who advocate the development of friendly relations with Russia for mutual benefit."

Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, has a long border with Ukraine and has been hosting hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees since the start of Moscow's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has some 1,500 troops in Moldova's Moscow-backed separatist region of Transdniester, a sliver of land sandwiched between Moldova proper and Ukraine.

In recent months, Transdniester separatists claimed that Kyiv had orchestrated what they claimed were shootings, explosions, and drone incursions, raising fears that Moldova could be drawn into the conflict in Ukraine.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and dpa