At the beginning of the year ten mercenaries were arrested in Moldova who fought on the side of the Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Two of them have already been sentenced to three years of imprisonment, as announced by the Acting Prosecutor General of Moldova, Igor Popa, Radio Liberty reported.
Popa noted that the investigation against eight other suspects continues. They are all between 26 and 32-years-old and all of them are Russian speaking natives from the south of Moldova.
"Unfortunately, I have to report that ten Moldovan citizens fought in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine. We have documented cases where Moldovan citizens were injured and we do not exclude the possible deaths of our citizens during this conflict," the head of the State Office of the Public Prosecutor of Moldova said. According to him, most mercenaries are former police and Special Forces soldiers.
Representatives of the investigative authorities of Moldova believe that among ethnic Russians in Moldova, there are those who are sympathetic towards the separatists in the Donbas and are willing to fight; however, the main motivation is money.
"For example, one man, whose case was sent to the court in January, said that he was promised a salary of $3,000 per month,” the Deputy Prosecutor General of Moldova, Nick Candrea, said.
Two more suspects were detained when they entered Moldova with a large amount of Russian rubles. "Both men said that they had received payment in Russian rubles. One had 15,000 Rubles ($180), another had 40,000 Rubles ($500)," the Chairman of the Committee for the Fight Against Organized Crime of Moldova, Denis Rotaru, said.
The exact number of Moldovan citizens who are fighting on the side of the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine is unknown, but authorities in Chișinău promise to make every effort to identify them. According to the Moldovan legislation, participation in hostilities abroad shall be punished by up to ten years imprisonment.
As reported by Apostrophe, the pro-Russian media in Moldova has been caught broadcasting a fake news story about the inevitable return of Poland's "historical" lands and property (restitution) by the citizens of Ukraine, and that the same fate awaits the citizens of Moldova, but in relation to Romania.
The Moldovan authorities have decided to deny entry to Moldova to the Russian propagandists responsible for the story. The crew consists of LifeNews correspondent, Kirill Ol'kov, the operator of REN TV, Alexander Malyshev, and a journalist from All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK), Alexander Balitsky.