Moldovan mafia is selling Russian army weapons to separatists in Ukraine, it’s been claimed.
The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) says it bought the arms from an organised crime figure called Ion Druta, who claimed they came from the Russian 14th army, a unit which has been in Transnistria, a Russian-speaking separatist region, for the last two decades.
When OCCRP reporters asked Druta to provide 30 Russian pistols, five RPGs and ammunition for 29,000 euros, he asked for a week to provide the weapons explaining, “There’s a lot of demand now because of Ukraine, everybody is looking for guns.” OCCRP added that the weapon shipment was to be delivered directly to Ukraine, somewhere near Odessa.
OCCRP says the episode demonstrates how easy it is for separatists to get their hands on weaponry.
It added the presence of similar firepower in Ukraine fuels breakaway sentiment.
Moldova heading for a similar fate?
There are wider fears that the same could happen in Moldova.
Yevgeny Shevchuk, leader of Transnistria, has already told euronews he wants a civilised divorce from Moldova.
OCCRP’s revelation comes days after Moldova signed, alongside Ukraine, a free trade deal with the EU, tying the country to the West economically and politically.
It was opposed by Vladimir Putin who said the deal to force Ukraine into a choice between Russia and the EU had pushed it towards a “painful internal conflict”.
OCCRP, a group that seeks to expose corruption and organised crime in Eastern Europe , initially contacted Druta’s group as part of a wider probe into a network of hired killers.