Pro-Moscow authorities in Moldova’s separatist region of Transnistria, which borders Ukraine, said Thursday they had prevented an attack organized by Kyiv that targeted separatist officials.
Transnistria is a narrow Kremlin-backed region in eastern Moldova that separated from the ex-Soviet republic after fighting in 1992. Russia has maintained a contingent of troops there since.
Moldovan President Maia Sandu last month accused Russia of plotting to violently overthrow her government through saboteurs disguised as anti-government protesters, claims that Russia denied.
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Separatist security officials said in a statement they had foiled “a terror attack... directed by Ukrainian security services, being prepared against a number of officials.”
“The suspects have been detained. They have given confessions,” authorities said.
Transnistria’s prosecutor Anatoly Guretsky said the perpetrators had aimed to “eliminate top state officials” and that the alleged attack was organized to take place in the administrative center of the pro-Russian enclave Tiraspol.
“They planned for there to be many victims because the terrorist attack was meant to take place in the center of the capital.”
State-run television channel First Pridnestrovian said the suspects had planned to detonate a Land Rover with eight kilograms (18 pounds) of explosives.
It also aired images of the alleged perpetrator, a 40-year-old man which the channel reported “received orders from Ukrainian security services.”
Moldova, a poor country of 2.6 million people with a sizeable Russian minority, has taken a pro-Western turn in recent years, angering Moscow.
Since the launch of the offensive in Ukraine a year ago, the Kremlin has been accused of raising tensions in Transnistria.
In late February, Russia accused Ukraine of stepping up preparations for an attack in Transnistria and vowed to retaliate to any provocation.
The Moldovan government dismissed the allegations and called for calm.