NEWS: “As a citizen of the Republic of Moldova, without holding an official position, I have a right to travel to any country, the same as any other citizen. As regards the letter you are referring to, under the current regulations prompted by the pandemic, Moldovan citizens may enter the Russian Federation only if they have a special invitation from a state institution or if they produce a recommendation issued by the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Chișinău. I’m travelling to Moscow on personal matters. So, this is about flight restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic, without any other implications except the recommendation issued by the embassy of the country of destination”, Dodon has told deschide.md via his spokesperson, Carmena Sterpu.
NARRRATIVES: Moldovan citizens need special invitations / recommendations to enter Russia during the coronavirus pandemic.
BACKGROUND: Everything started after the media in Chișinău revealed that the Russian Embassy in Chișinău had booked tickets for Dodon and his bodyguard, Sergiu Juncu, on the flight to Moscow on February 11.
Dodon’s departure to Moscow coincided with the very day when the Party of Socialists (PSRM) and its political allies, the Șor Party (led by the number one suspect in the “million-dollar theft”, Ilan Șor), and “For Moldova” Party (made up of former members of the Democratic Party), as well as a few unaffiliated MPs, nominated Mariana Durleșteanu for the position of Prime Minister.
Furthermore, on February 9, Dodon received the Russian Ambassador to Chișinău, Oleg Vasnetsov, evidence of that being a Facebook post Dodon made that day, in addition to pictures depicting him together with the Russian diplomat.
Worth noting is that, during his term in office as president, Dodon was in permanent contact with the Russian Embassy in la Chișinău.
In October, 2020, during the election campaign in Chișinău, RISE Moldova and the Dossier Center in Russia (led by opposition leader Alexey Navalny) published a series of investigations presenting the rather long-standing relations between the former president, Igor Dodon (started when he was an MP) with the Russian Embassy in Chișinău, as well as with the so-called “Moldovan subdivision” in the Kremlin, led by SVR Colonel, Igor Maslov, and his ranking superior, General Vladimir Chernov.
According to RISE Moldova, the said department in Kremlin deals with all the dossiers of Moldovan politicians, public figures and NGOs in the Republic of Moldova, and is spreading propaganda and conducting smearing campaigns against PSRM’s political opponents.
Dodon’s increasingly frequent visits to Moscow, some Romanians pundits have argued, are tied to the fact that the former president has fallen out of favor with the Kremlin and is now seeking to win back the Russians’ trust, fearing they might get rid of him in the near future.
PURPOSE: To avoid a clear-cut answer as to why a foreign country is paying the numerous flight tickets to Moscow for Dodon, a former president of the Republic and the current leader of the Party of Socialists in the Republic of Moldova. This could be interpreted as an act of corruption, and might serve as evidence that a high-ranking Moldovan official could be working for a foreign state.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Veridica.ro has checked multiple sources in order to confirm that Dodon’s statement is completely false. According to the travel recommendations published on the website of the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Moldovan citizens may enter Russia provided they produce a negative test result for COVID-19 taken no earlier than 72 hours prior to their arrival.
“Starting July 15, 2020, foreign nationals entering the territory of the Russian Federation on short-term, by means of regular charter flights, are no longer under the obligation of entering quarantine for 14 days. Upon arrival, they must present a negative test for COVID-19, administered within 72 hours of their arrival to the Russian Federation. The document has to be presented in Russian or English”, the press release of the Moldovan Foreign Ministry reads.
In addition, Russia’s national airliner, Aeroflot, has confirmed the information published on the website of the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Foreign citizens traveling to the Russian Federation, including passengers transiting Russian airports, must produce a medical certificate in Russian or English attesting to the negative test result for COVID-19, obtained at least three days before their arrival to the Russian Federation”, the official website of Aeroflot notes.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: Moldovan citizens are required to present a valid negative test for COVID-19 to enter Russia, but not a special invitation.