Aletho News


Moldova’s “football plot” highlights ridiculousness of anti-Russia hysteria

By Ahmed Adel | February 17, 2023

By accusing Moscow of planning a coup d’état in Moldova, President Maia Sandu is trying to divert public attention from the economic crisis in the country whilst also ingratiating herself with the anti-Russia West. In fact, her accusations reached such ridiculous levels that supporters of football club Partizan Belgrade were implicated in the supposed plot to overthrow the current government and install a pro-Russian regime.

Sandu said that Russia is allegedly planning to use foreign saboteurs to topple her country’s leadership, stop its accession to the European Union and use it in the conflict against Ukraine.

“The plan included sabotage and militarily trained people disguised as civilians to carry out violent actions, attacks on government buildings and taking hostages,” she told reporters on February 13.

She added, without providing the evidence, that citizens of Russia, Montenegro, Belarus and Serbia would be among those entering Moldova to try to spark protests in an attempt to “change the legitimate government to an illegitimate government, controlled by the Russian Federation to stop the EU integration process.”

Fans of Serbian football club Partizan Belgrade were banned from travelling to watch their team play Sheriff Tiraspol on February 16 in the first leg of their Europa Conference League knockout play-off tie. In fact, the game was played behind closed doors due to the supposed fears of the coup.

The match had been relocated to the Moldovan capital of Chisinau from Tiraspol, the capital of the self-declared independent country of Transnistria, which is internationally recognised as part of Moldova but is overwhelmingly Russian and Ukrainian in its ethnic makeup. It is more than likely that Sandu reached ridiculous levels of accusations, even to the point of banning football fans, because the supporters of Partizan Belgrade and Sheriff Tiraspol were likely to make pro-Russian statements – something she did not want to be broadcasted to international audiences.

Sandu’s statement is also connected with the economic crisis in Moldova. The country is not experiencing economic growth and is not receiving cheap gas and oil from Russia. Effectively, Sandu is scaring the Moldovan people by making them believe that war is on their doorstep. This serves to distract them from their economic hardships.

It is recalled that at the beginning of her political career, Sandu talked about economic growth, fighting crime, and reducing corruption. However, the level of corruption has increased, inflation is hovering at about 30% and the country is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Rather than deal with these issues, the Moldovan president is trying to please the West by implicating Russia in another scheme. This will not only further deteriorate Chisinau’s relations with Russia, but justify a tightening of domestic and foreign policy against dissidents. Sandu in this way demonstrates that she is useful for Washington and Brussels as she is stamping out pro-Russian sentiment in an authoritarian manner.

Moldova has long lost its constitutionally “ensured” neutral status and now depends on the Americans and Europeans as she sees the future of her country in NATO. Moldova’s parliament approved pro-Western Prime Minister Dorin Recean and his proposed Cabinet in a confidence vote on February 16.

Sixty-two MPs, all from the Sandu-founded Action and Solidarity Party (PAS), voted in favour of appointing the new Cabinet. PAS holds 63 out of 101 seats in the Moldovan parliament, and therefore comfortably passed the new cabinet, especially as the parliamentary opposition did not vote. In this way, Moldova is now firmly in the Western bloc despite constitutionally being neutral and not even being a member of NATO or the EU.

It is recalled that Sandu previously stated that attacks are being prepared in Moldova with the aim of overthrowing the constitutional order of the country. At the time, she called on the parliament to expand the powers of the security services.

Previously, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, when addressing the European Council, said that the Ukrainian intelligence services had intercepted Russia’s plan to overthrow the democratic order in Moldova and that the Ukrainian side informed the Moldovan leadership about it. In this light, Sandu asked Moldova’s parliament to adopt draconian draft laws to equip its Intelligence and Security Service, and the prosecutor’s office, “with the necessary tools to combat more effectively the risks” to the country’s security.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed Sandu’s claims on February 14 as “absolutely unfounded and unsubstantiated.”

“They are built in the spirit of classical techniques that are often used by the United States, other Western countries and Ukraine,” Zakharova said. “First, accusations are made with reference to purportedly classified intelligence information that cannot be verified, and then they are used to justify their own illegal actions.”

In this way, Sandu is making extremely desperate, but also humiliating justifications to introduce authoritarian laws to stamp out Russophilia in Moldova. To achieve this, she is also bulldozing Moldova’s neutral status, and it is all coming at a major economic cost.

Ahmed Adel is a Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher.

February 17, 2023 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Russophobia | , ,

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