Former Moldovan MP convicted of spying for Russia
Yuri Bolbochan, a former Democratic Party MP in the Moldovan parliament has been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for treason.
The verdict was handed down on 13 March, four days before Bolbochan’s arrest. Had the judge been late in delivering the verdict, Bolbochan would have had to be released.
At the time of arrest, he was neither an MP nor a member of the Democratic Party. According to an investigation, the former MP was detained while attempting to pass on information ‘of national significance’ to Aleksandr Grudin, the deputy military attaché of the Russian Embassy in Moldova.
Prosecutors said that the information could have been used to “harm the sovereignty and security of the Republic of Moldova”. Later, it became known that Bolbochan had regularly met with the Russian military attaché and had received remuneration.
During a search of Bolbochan’s property, USD 23 000 was found in addition to devices for saving electronic data, a laptop, several documents from parliament and mobile telephones, one of which was used to contact and conduct negotiations with the foreign agent.
Where could Bolbochan have received valuable information for Russian espionage if he has not held any state positions since November 2014?
Ziarul de Garde asked prosecutor Anatolie Pitel who headed the case. Pitel responded that the former MP had ‘many contacts and friends’ who are officials and other high-ranking individuals. The investigation spent six months looking into the contacts of the former MP, Pitel added.
On 19 March 2017 Yuri Bolbochan was charged with treason and espionage, punishable by prison sentences of 12-20 years in length. The court decided to hold him under arrest until his trial.
Russian diplomat Aleksandr Grudin was excluded from the case due to diplomatic immunity. However, he was sent out of the country with four other Russian diplomats who have been declared as ‘persona non grata’ in the country.