The business association headed by the former president of Moldova, Igor Dodon, received 20 million Russian rubles from Moscow, the equivalent of $300,000, according to an investigation published on Monday by RISE Moldova and the Dossier Center, an exiled Russian businessman’s NGO that monitors Kremlin corruption.
The money was sent from Russia to the bank account of the Moldovan-Russian Business Union over a period of seven months between October 2021 and April 2022, continuing even after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, the investigation claimed.
The amount of 6.7 million rubles, about $85,000, was earmarked for Dodon’s annual salary in the budget of the Moldovan-Russian Business Union, according to the investigation.
However, it was alleged that in addition to his base salary, Dodon approved for himself an additional 50 per cent – up to about $130,000.
Dodon, who was in office from 2016 to 2020 and still leads Moldova’s Socialist Party, has denied the allegations, describing them as malicious propaganda.
Dodon’s deputy at the business association, Vadim Yurcenko, is a close associate of the Russian security service and was delegated from Russia, RISE Moldova also alleged.
Yurcenko is a partner of Yuri Gudilin, an ex-FSB officer who now works as a political adviser for the Socialist Party’s electoral campaigns.
Thirty-nine-year-old Yurcenko has held various positions, from specialist to deputy director, at Russian state institutions. Among them were the Federal Penitentiary Service, enterprises within the Russian state holding company Rostec and energy giant Inter RAO EES. which owns the thermal power plant at Cuciurgan in Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria.
Dodon’s association, Delovaya Rossiya, also employs Igor Chaika, who is said to be the business ambassador Moldova and Transnistria.
Chaika is the son of the former prosecutor-general of Russia, Yuri Chaika, and a business partner of the Dodon family. Chaika and Alexandru Dodon, the former president’s brother, are business partners in Russia in the real estate and waste sectors.
On October 26, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 21 individuals and entities that it claimed are involved in acts of corruption which it said have “brought serious harm to Moldova and its citizens”, including Chaika and Gudilin.
Dodon insisted that the RISE Moldova investigation was intended to deflect attention from social problems in the country.
“This manufactured material contains a mixture of lies, approximations and interpretations with malicious intent for propaganda purposes,” Dodon told the Russian state news agency TASS on Monday.
“The aim is to distract society’s attention for one day from the catastrophe into which President Maia Sandu and the government formed by her Action and Solidarity Party has pushed the country,” he added, BalkanInsight reports