Wagner’s Yevgeny Prigozhin tried to overthrow Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova before his death, the nation’s president says – DAVID RAUDALES

DAVID RAUDALES

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Wagner’s Yevgeny Prigozhin tried to overthrow Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova before his death, the nation’s president says

People lay carnations to a memorial as they pay tribute to Yevgeny Prigozhin in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on August 24, 2023.

Vladimir Alexandrov/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Wagner’s Yevgeny Prigozhin was behind a coup attempt in Moldova, the country’s president said.Wagner intended to turn protests “violent” to justify its allies seizing power, Maia Sandu claimed.”The situation is really dramatic and we have to protect ourselves,” she said.

The deceased former head of Wagner, the Russian paramilitary group, was behind an attempt earlier this year to overthrow the pro-Western government of Moldova, President Maia Sandu said in an interview published Friday.

Home to 2.6 million people, Moldova, a former member of the Soviet Union, is wedged between Ukraine and NATO member Romania, with Russian troops occupying a separatist region in the east of the country. Its current government aspires to membership in the Western military alliance, as well as the European Union, goals opposed by Moscow and the country’s loud, pro-Russia opposition.

In February, Sandu publicly accused Russia of trying to overthrow her, in part by using the cover of street protests to allow local proxies to claim power in ,the name of security.

“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 at the time. Her government expelled 45 Russian diplomats a few months later.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Sandu claimed that the alleged coup d’etat was being planned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the former head of the Wagner mercenary organization who died in a plane crash over the summer.

“The information that we have is that it was a plan prepared by [Prigozhin’s] team,” Sandu told the newspaper, claiming Wagner forces intended to spark violence at protests.

The threat has not dissipated with Prigozhin’s death, Sandu said.

“The situation is really dramatic and we have to protect ourselves,” she said.

Moldova is objectively vulnerable. As Insider reported from the ground last year, even members of the country’s defense establishment and those who fought Russian troops in a brief war in the early 1990s believe its armed forces — smaller and more poorly equipped than police departments in some US cities — would be overrun by an invading force.

Thousands of Russian troops are stationed in Transnistria, the breakaway region of Moldova bordering Ukraine, and they are bolstered by thousands more troops loyal to Transnistria’s pro-Russia leadership.

Read the original article on Business Insider