By: Denise Simon
Who Took Moldovos Millions ~ The Crooks or the Kremlin
On the eve of a national election in tiny Moldova last November, $450 million — equal to 10 percent of the Eastern European country’s entire annual gross domestic product — went missing. So far, no one knows where it went.
Much was at stake in the election. Last June, Moldova’s pro-Europe government signed an association agreement with the European Union. Pro-Russia opponents favored partnership with Moscow’s Eurasian Economic Union instead. The incumbents barely won. Moscow signaled its displeasure with the EU agreement by placing an embargo on the import of Moldovan fruits, vegetables and wine.
Earlier this month, approximately 10,000 Moldovans marched in the streets of the capital, Chisinau, shouting, “Down with the thieves!” and “We want the billions back!”
Kroll, the international risk consultancy, had been engaged to do an initial private investigation. The parliament’s speaker posted this from their report: “There appears to have a deliberate plan to gain control of each of the banks and subsequently manipulate transactions to gain access to credit, whilst giving the appearance to the contrary.” Yet, the National Anti-corruption Center of Moldova claimed the report was based on rumors that leaked to local media. Read more here.
An outspoken opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin was near death Friday from an apparent poisoning just three months after his close political ally was gunned down near the Kremlin, and supporters want him evacuated to Europe or Israel to determine what sickened him.
Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr., who has long been based in Washington, was in a hotel in Moscow when he suddenly lost consciousness May 26 and was hospitalized with what his wife called “symptoms of poisoning.” The 33-year-old is a coordinator for Open Russia, a nongovernmental organization which on the previous day released a documentary film accusing close Putin crony and Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov of human rights abuses including torture and murder.
“Doctors have just confirmed that he was poisoned,” Andrei Bystrov, an opposition activist and friend of the Kara-Murza family, told The Telegraph. “As to what with, they can’t say yet. It could be anything.”
Kara-Murza, a dual Russian-British citizen, was a close associate of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated in February.
“I am deeply concerned about the mysterious illness of Vladimir Kara-Murza, especially given the recent murder of Boris Nemtsov and the number of Putin’s opponents who have been poisoned,” Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said in a statement.”
Kara-Murza’s family was trying to get him evacuated to Europe or Israel for toxicology tests after hemodialysis failed to stop complete kidney failure. Read more here.
Russia’s recent use of nuclear rhetoric, exercises and operations are deeply troubling. As are concerns regarding its compliance with the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty.
President Putin’s admission that he considered putting Russia’s nuclear forces on alert while Russia was annexing Crimea is but one example.
Russia has also significantly increased the scale, number and range of provocative flights by nuclear-capable bombers across much of the globe. From Japan to Gibraltar. From Crete to California. And from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.
Russian officials announced plans to base modern nuclear-capable missile systems in Kaliningrad. And they claim that Russia has the right to deploy nuclear forces to Crimea.