The European Union has announced sanctions on seven individuals accused of destabilizing actions against Moldova and that it was doubling its grant of macroeconomic support to 290 million euros ($310 million).
Among those hit with EU sanctions are Moldovan oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, seen as the main organizer of a $1 billion fraud in 2014-2015; and Moscow-backed tycoon Ilan Shor, the head of the Shor Party now in Israel; and Marina Tauber, a vice president of the Shor Party who has been behind mass anti-government protests in the capital, Chisinau.
Shor was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a Moldovan court last month.
The others are fugitive former acting police chief Gheorghe Cavcaliuc, wanted in Moldova for aiding Shor in organizing the violent Chisinau protests; Grigore Caramalac and Aleksandr Kalinin, accused of actions against Ukraine; Russian businessman Igor Chaika, the son of Russian Prosecutor-General Igor Chaika, accused as acting as a "piggy bank" for Russia's Federal Security Service actions against Moldova.
Chaika is the only non-Moldovan citizen on the list.
Shor, Plahotniuc, and Chaika have already been put under sanctions by the United States and Britain.
The EU assets of those on the sanctions list were frozen and they are banned from traveling to and through the bloc.
The announcement was hailed by Moldova's pro-Western president, Maia Sandu.
"Moldova is not alone in its effort to keep the country safe & stable. I welcome the EU’s decision to sanction those who endanger our democracy, stability & security. Together, we will ensure a strong & prosperous future for Moldova, Sandu wrote on Twitter.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement that the seven were "responsible for actions aimed at destabilizing, undermining, or threatening the sovereignty and independence" of Moldova and Ukraine.
"Moldova is one of the countries most affected by the consequences of Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine. There are serious, intensified, and persistent attempts to destabilize the country," Borrell said.
Moldova, a country of 2.6 million that is among the poorest in Europe, has received hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees after Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
The EU announcement about the sanctions came two days ahead of Moldova's hosting the first summit of the European Political Community, where Sandu wants to secure promises that Moldova will soon start membership negotiations with the 27-member bloc.
Moldova was invited together with Ukraine to open accession negotiations with the EU in June last year, just months after Russia invaded.
The 44-member European Political Community, the creation of which was the idea of French President Emmanuel Macron, is meant to improve cooperation between the EU and nonmembers, including aspiring countries in the Western Balkans and the Caucasus region, RFE/RL reports