Pro-Russian ex-president of Moldova placed under house arrest

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Moldova on Thursday placed the country’s pro-Russian former president Igor Dodon under house arrest for 30 days after he was detained on suspicion of treason and corruption, a court in the capital Chisinau said.

Prosecutors in the Western-backed country announced Dodon’s arrest on Tuesday, as the conflict in neighboring Ukraine has heightened tensions between Moscow and Chisinau.

On Thursday, the prosecutors, who requested pre-trial detention for Dodon, said they intend to appeal the court’s decision.

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Dodon “was planning to flee the country, we found a ticket for 9:00 on May 26,” prosecutor Petr Yarmalyuk said, adding that “large sums of foreign currency” were found during a search.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Dodon dismissed the case as “political” and blamed incumbent President Maia Sandu for his arrest.

“I consider this a political case. It was initiated on the order of President Maia Sandu, who demanded that I be put in jail immediately after her election,” Dodon said.

Dodon led Moldova between 2016 and 2020 and was openly backed by Moscow.

He is being investigated over four separate offences: state treason, receiving political funds from a criminal organization, illegal enrichment and “passive corruption.”

Moldova is largely Romanian-speaking but has a significant Russian-speaking minority and a Moscow-backed separatist region, Transnistria.

After becoming mired in scandals linked to corruption in the impoverished country, Dodon lost the presidency to Sandu in 2020. Her pro-European party went on to win a resounding victory in parliamentary elections in 2021.

Chisinau has firmly backed Kyiv after President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine.

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