Recently I was on assignment for SOFREP, checking out the latest developments in Ukraine, Switzerland, Romania, Transnistria, and by default Moldova. Moldova was initially a weigh station for me, a means to get into Transnistria and nothing more. That is until a few days before I arrived, when the FBI—in conjunction with Moldovan officials—arrested Russian mafiosos attempting to sell nuclear materials to agents posing as jihadis. This is the third time this has happened in the past five years. I got on the phone from Switzerland and started to look into the matter. I contacted the U.S. embassy, the State Department, and the FBI for information on our side, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI), the Moldova Border Police or Politia De Frontiera, and the Interpol branch in Moldova for information, all of which led to a lot of “maybe” and “I don’t know.”
The phrase “I don’t know” is commonly heard among information-seekers in Moldova, especially foreigners. I had already been submitting inquiries prior to this, requesting information regarding the security and border procedures with the breakaway republic Transnistria, so my popularity was being cemented well before my arrival. Moldova is a partly free nation, and from my observations and interactions with government staff and private citizens on the ground, it is a nation as free as you want, as long as you do what you’re told and don’t meddle in official affairs. Of course, money can buy you permissions.
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