The Moldovan General Prosecutor Alexandr Stoianoglo was detained earlier this week for 72 hours on charges related to corruption and abuse of power.
“We are returning to a ‘captured’ state,” Stoianoglo declared as he was removed from his office by special forces.
Stoianoglo appeared to be referring to the years 2015 to 2019 when politician and businessman Vlad Plahotniuc allegedly controlled all state institutions. Plahotniuc fled the country in 2019 during a government shake-up, and had his political asylum claim rejected in the US. He remains a fugitive.
Stoianoglo was elected General Prosecutor in the same year as Plahotniuc’s leaving, in November 2019. Critics of his appointment say the contest for the position was rigged by a bloc of the then-majority Socialists.
Earlier this year, Moldova welcomed a new, pro-EU government following snap elections. Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita of the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) won on a platform of carrying out reform and rooting out corruption; Stoianoglo has been in the hot seat ever since.
Justice Minister Sergiu Litvinenco says Stoianoglo crossed a red line when he used his position to further his own interest, and is guilty of engaging in corruption and influence peddling.
“Stoioanoglo is desperate and is trying to victimize himself. But he is not the victim of politics, as he tries to present,” Litvinenco said.
“We have a weak, illegally appointed prosecutor who has become a puppet in the hands of the corrupt and of the thieves who have been stealing from this country for decades,” he added.
The charges against Stoianoglo accuse him of exploiting confidential information amid an investigation, after he published wiretapped conversations between the former General Prosecutor, Viorel Morari, with a range of individuals from non-government organisations and the media.
Stoianoglo has denied the charges.
Stoianoglo is also accused of helping facilitate money laundering in the country by supporting amendments to the Law on Preventing and Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing.
“This amendment allowed… non-resident companies, whose accounts were blocked by the Service for Preventing and Combating Money Laundering, to unblock their accounts and transfer the money merely by filing an appeal with the bank against the decision to suspend financial operations,” said the head of the Security and Defence Commission in parliament, Lilian Carp.
Moldova’s former Socialist president, Igor Dodon, now head of the main opposition Communist and Socialist bloc, slammed Stoianoglo’s detention as an abuse of the law.
Image via Pixabay