Home Europe U.S. Sanctions Pro-Russia Governor Of Moldova’s Gagauzia Region

U.S. Sanctions Pro-Russia Governor Of Moldova’s Gagauzia Region

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FILE PHOTO: Leader of Moldova's Gagauzia region Yevgenia Gutsul (Eugenia Gutul) speaks during a press conference in Moscow, Russia, April 22, 2024. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo

U.S. Sanctions Pro-Russia Governor

The United States imposed sanctions on the pro-Russia governor of Moldova’s Gagauzia region on Wednesday. As a matter of fact, the pro-Western government in Chisinau supports this move. To explain, pro-Kremlin Evgenia Gutul won the election last year to lead the autonomous southern Moldovan region. She has been at odds with the government and President Maia Sandu. The President seeks to take the small ex-Soviet state into the European Union. Gutul faces criminal allegations of channelling funds from Russia to finance the now-banned Shor Party set up by Ilan Shor. Moldovan authorities convicted a pro-Russia businessman of fraud, and he is now living in exile

Gutul has denied the allegations as fabricated. The sanctions announced on the website of the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control freeze any assets held by Gutul in the United States. They also prohibit Americans from doing business with her. “The United States announced sanctions against (Gutul) as an active facilitator of fugitive convicted oligarch Ilan Shor and his Shor Party. And their Kremlin-backed illegal political interference efforts,” the U.S. embassy in Chisinau said in a statement.

Moldovan Prime Minister Dorin Recean said the sanctions had been imposed after “effective cooperation” with partners. And that “we will continue to take decisive action to counter corruption and threats to national security”. “The prompt reaction of the USA must serve as an example for the judiciary in the Republic of Moldova to do its duty and defend the interest of the country and our citizens,” Recean said in a statement.

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Gutul, writing on the Telegram messaging app, said she was unsurprised by the U.S. punitive measures. “There is no point being afraid of judges, sanctions and threats,” she said. “We have overcome and will continue to overcome the obstacle course organised by Maia Sandu and her backers.” Shor mocked the sanctions, describing then as “a quality mark, a symbol that we are correct in what we are doing.”

Moldova’s relations have deteriorated with the Kremlin during Moscow’s full-scale invasion of neighbouring Ukraine. Another key point. Gutul has called for closer ties and met high-level Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin in March. Moldova’s pro-Western government has staunchly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at one point accused Moscow of plotting its overthrow and expelled Russian diplomats.

To explain, Gagauzia, a region populated mainly by a Turkic-speaking largely Orthodox ethnic group, has had an uneasy relationship with the capital Chisinau. That, since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. It was later granted autonomy. Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest countries, has a Romanian-speaking majority and a large Russian-speaking minority, and political control has alternated between pro-Russian and pro-Western groups since the fall of the Soviet Union. Additionally, another region of Moldova, mainly Russian-speaking Transdniestria, broke from Chisinau’s control after a brief war in the early 1990s. It houses a garrison of Russian troops.

(With Reuters Inputs)