A boxing team from Montenegro was barred from Moldova due to security reasons, according to high-ranking sources for investigative journalists.
The team was barred from Moldova on 14 February amid concerns that foreigners planned to join a pro-Russian protest set to take place on Sunday.
The rally has been organised by pro-Russian, anti-European organisations, allegedly also behind fugitive Moldovan oligarchs Ilan Shor and Vladimir Plahotniuc.
Both Shor and Plahotniuc face charges in Moldova on corruption, money laundering, and other organised crime related activities.
On 13 February, the Moldovan President Maia Sandu warned that citizens of Russia, Belarus, Serbia and Montenegro planned to enter Moldova as part of the bid to oust the pro-EU government, and replace it with a Moscow-controlled regime.
Sandu also claimed that individuals with military training, disguised as civilians, were expected to attempt a coup under the cover of the protests planned by Moldova’s pro-Russian opposition.
Sandu’s comments come a week after Moldovan police said they had received information from Ukraine regarding alleged Russian plans to destabilise Moldova’s pro-Western government.
According to the information, Moscow plans to infiltrate anti-government protests with athletes, among other groups of individuals, from countries such as Belarus, Serbia and Montenegro.
The Montenegrin boxing association said five members of the Budva boxing club were barred from Moldova at Chisinau airport on 14 February. The members were told to return home on the first flight, without being given a reason why. The boxing association said the athletes had received an official invitation to participate in a tournament in Chisinau.
“Their documents were confiscated and they spent the whole night in the transit zone without food or accommodation. They were deported back to Montenegro with the explanation that Montenegrin citizens are currently prohibited from entering Moldova without more detailed information,” read a statement by the Association.
On the same day, a number of Serbian football fans were also turned away. They had flown to Moldova to watch an international match. The fans were purportedly turned away on suspicion that they may be undercover for Russia.
Moldova’s airspace was closed briefly on Tuesday for what was described as security reasons.
Moscow has dismissed Moldova’s coup accusation as “unfounded and unsubstantiated.” Serbian and Montenegrin officials have similarly dismissed the accusations, and requested further explanation.
Sandu and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had a discussion on 15 February regarding the former’s concerns about a coup threat, with the two leaders agreeing to cooperate to prevent illegal activities.
Montenegrin and Moldovan government representatives also agreed to exchange information regarding potentially illegal activities carried out by the citizens of either country.
Image via Pexels