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European state asks Russia to extradite opposition leader

Moldova has asked Moscow to extradite Ilan Shor, but received no response, the justice minister claims

FILE PHOTO. Workers fix a campaign billboard depicting Moldova’s parliamentary candidate Ilan Shor in Chisinau on February 13, 2019. ©  AFP / Daniel Mihailescu

Moldova has formally requested that Russia extradite the leader of the country’s main political opposition, Israeli-Moldovan business man Ilan Shor, Justice Minister Veronica Mihailov-Moraru has said.

Chisinau has also sent a new request to Israel to extradite Shor after the first one was rejected, while approaching Moscow with the same demand.

“We have also requested the extradition of [Shor] from Russia to enforce the decisions of the [Chisinau] Appeal Board. We haven’t received a response yet,” Mihailov-Moraru said on Friday, in an interview with national broadcaster PRO TV.

Earlier this month, the businessman revealed in an interview that he had obtained a Russian passport, which makes his extradition effectively impossible since Moscow does not surrender its citizens to other countries. While Mihailov-Moraru said her ministry has not been informed that the opposition leader has become a Russian national, the head of the local Interpol chapter, Viorel Țentiu, confirmed the politician’s new citizenship earlier this year.

Shor was sentenced in absentia to 15 years behind bars by the judicial body last April. The charges relate to the 2014 Moldovan bank fraud scandal, in which $1 billion was laundered and funnelled out of Moldova.

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The founder of the Sor Party and the leader of the Victory opposition bloc has long maintained his innocence, insisting the charges against him were politically motivated. Shor fled the country in 2019, remaining abroad ever since. In 2020, Moldovan authorities issued an international arrest warrant for him, with the Appeal Board seizing his assets in the country.

The Sor Party, widely regarded as “pro-Russian” by its critics, was outlawed in Moldova last June. President Maia Sandu has accused the movement of being a mere front for organized crime and conspiring to “discredit the idea of democracy” through serving “oligarchs.” Before the ban was imposed on the party, Sandu asked the EU to sanction both Sor and its founder.

The party has long advocated maintaining good relations with Russia while opposing such ideas as joining the European Union, merging with Romania, or forcibly seizing the unrecognized republic of Transnistria, which broke away from Moldova shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The unrecognized republic has hosted a small Russian peacekeeping force since 1992.

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