Moldova outlaws pro-Russia party led by oligarch living in Israel

Chisinau’s pro-European government has accused Ilan Shor, who fled the country in 2019 and is under US sanctions for alleged corruption, of trying to overthrow it

Moldova's parliamentary candidate Ilan Shor, leader of his self-named party, meets with supporters during a campaign event in the city of Comrat on February 15, 2019. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP)
Ilan Shor meets with supporters during a campaign event in the Moldovan city of Comrat on February 15, 2019. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP)

CHISINAU, Moldova — Moldova’s constitutional court on Monday outlawed the opposition party of fugitive pro-Russian oligarch Ilan Shor, who the pro-European government accuses of trying to topple it.

The decision comes after Chisinau — which says the party is acting against the country’s national interest — asked the court to rule on its constitutionality.

In the last months, the Shor party staged several anti-government demonstrations in the capital Chisinau and other cities across the country, blaming Moldovan President Maia Sandu for high electricity bills and accusing her of trying to drag Moldova into the war in Ukraine.

The authorities in Chisinau argue the protests are part of a Russian plot to overthrow the current government and replace it with a Kremlin-friendly one.

In its decision on Monday, the court sided with Chisinau’s arguments.

“The Shor political party is declared unconstitutional… From the date of pronouncement of this judgement it shall be considered dissolved,” the court announced.

The Shor party’s five lawmakers can continue to represent their constituents but will be unaffiliated in the 110-seat parliament, the court added.

The party will challenge the decision at the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights, party lawyer Aureliu Colenco told reporters.

“This is an abusive and criminal decision,” he said.

People chant slogans during a protest initiated by the populist Shor Party, calling for early elections and Moldovan President Maia Sandu’s resignation, in Chisinau, Moldova, November 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Aurel Obreja)

Sandu welcomed the court’s verdict.

“It’s a decision awaited by society because Moldovans appreciate and want to live in a democratic state ruled by the law, where criminal organizations are not protected, but prevented from capturing the state,” Sandu wrote on Facebook.

In March, ahead of a Shor-organized rally, police arrested members of a network suspected of being orchestrated by Moscow in a bid to destabilize the small ex-Soviet nation.

An appeals court sentenced party founder Shor in April to 15 years in prison for money laundering, fraud and abuse of confidence.

Shor, 36, fled to Israel in 2019, and Moldovan authorities have been trying to have him extradited since.

In October 2022, the United States imposed sanctions on Shor and several other Moldovan citizens for corruption or allegedly working with Russia to undermine the frontline country’s democracy.

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