RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Author)
The Moldovan government has warned its officials not to travel to Russia, citing what it calls "humiliating" abuse and harassment by officials from Moscow's security apparatus.
The government in Chisinau said on March 9 that it thinks the "humiliating" actions are in retaliation for its investigation into an alleged $22 billion scheme to launder Russian money through Moldova's financial system.
The government statement said Moldovan lawmakers, government officials, and intelligence services "are being abusively stopped on entry to the Russian Federation, interrogated, and treated in a humiliating manner by representatives of a Russian special intelligence service."
Prime Minister Pavel Filip and parliamentary speaker Andrian Candu met with Russia's ambassador to Moldova, Farit Mukhametshin, to make an official complaint.
"Until a solution is found to this issue, Moldovan officials are asked to abstain from visits to the Russian Federation," the Moldovan statement said
Russia authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the accusations.
Moldovan authorities charge that Russian funds have been laundered through a Moldovan bank, helped by the alleged collusion of Moldovan judges and some central bank officials.
At least 14 Moldovan judges, other judicial officials, and a prominent Moldovan businessman have been arrested.
Moldovan authorities also have said that Russian authorities are refusing to cooperate in the investigation.
The controversy comes amid a tense political situation in Moldova.
Moldova's newly elected pro-Russia president is looking to move closer to Moscow, while the pro-Western government in Chisinau wants to improve ties with the European Union and eventually become an EU member state.
President Igor Dodon on March 9 denounced the warning by Filip's government about traveling to Russia, saying it was "abnormal."
Dodon is scheduled to travel to Russia himself next week.
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