On June 23rd, the Security and Intelligence Service of The Republic of Moldova (SIS,) disrupted another group of misguided criminal entrepreneurs who have sought to move nuclear materials through Moldova.

Last year, the FBI assisted Moldovan authorities  to interdict smugglers moving nuclear and radiological materials through Moldova who were attempting to sell nuclear materials to Daesh (ISIS) and other Middle Eastern extremists and terrorists. The nuclear material in these cases would serve as a devastating component for a dirty-bomb. The attempt was one five known occasions since 2010, that’s one per year.

Russian Federation intelligence services have remained the primary suspect supplying the Moldovan criminal smuggler networks with nuclear and radiological materials.

Alexandr Agheenco, AKA, “The Colonel,”  a Russian citizen and officer with the Russian FSB, previously known as the KGB – linked by investigators. The Colonel has been at the center of these ongoing smuggling efforts of Russian nuclear and radiological materials and with the highest possible bidders in mind, the networks of well-funded Jihadist groups, such as Daesh and al-Qaeda. Unfortunately, we only know of the cases that have been thwarted, such as the attempted sale of Russian weapons-grade uranium, U-235, and the ‘how-to’ blueprints to construct a dirty bomb to a Sudanese Jihadist, according to Moldovan authorities.

U.S. Representative, Adam Schiff, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, on the previously recovered materials released a statement,

We know that these radical Islamic groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS would love to get their hands on radioactive materials to fashion some sort of bomb.
We’ve had a number of scenarios since the collapse of the Soviet Union where there have been sales or purported sales. This is a concern with us very much today and unfortunately into the future.

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In the vehicle, SIS agents uncovered what they were looking for – dangerous nuclear material, which was even more dangerously transported, in aluminum foil.

SIS agents also recovered counterfeit identification documents, guns and knives. Thus far, the Chisinau Prosecutor has only released that two of the arrested were Moldovan citizens, and the pair will face ten years on the radioactive smuggling charges alone.

The methods of these criminals are not safe, sound and the payoff is most likely not going to cover the lifetime of medical bills for exposure. The ‘fails to long-term plan gang,’ was set to collect only $210,000 and besides the risks, and poor judgment – that amount of money split between them was not going to cover much long-term cancer treatment.

 

 

Moldova simultaneously conducted a nationwide biological, chemical and nuclear drill. The small European nation jammed in-between Romania, a hostile neighbor -Transdniestria, and Ukraine – A country twice spilt through relatively peaceful and violent revolution – First, from Romania following the bloody removal of autocratic, communist dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu. Immediately following their 1989 independence, Transdniestria “Interdvizheniye” warred with Moldova from 1989 to 1992. In the end, Transdniestria obtained their small cut of land and became a Russian lap-dog, at the cost of an ugly civil war. These actions helped set the stage for this region to maintain its status as one of the most bewildering and peculiar in the world.

 

moldova
Moldova, a nation enclosed on itself within limited borders. Transdniestria, highlighted in red, shares its border with Moldova along the Dnieper River.

 

“CAUTION, DO NOT PANIC: Thursday, throughout the country, will ring sirens.”

On Thursday,  at 14:00 EET, Moldovan Civil Protection, Military, and Emergency Services conducted a complex exercise control system exercise centered around the nation’s automated notification system. Moldovan authorities and press urged the public not to panic and that the exercise was taking place to test readiness.

Sirens sounded for up to three minutes, an intrusive blast signal meaning, “Attention everyone!”.

Citizens were urged to exercise calm and follow the instructions of authorities and key leaders who were charged with maintaining order for the exercise.

Throughout Moldova, there are 270 sirens, and 115 of them are in Chisinau.


The exercise, asides from the revival of Cold War tensions between NATO and Russia holds merit and beyond the nuclear materials being smuggled through Moldova.

It may also have been a cunning ruse to distract people, while a million things happened at once across the often corrupt yet generally international audience quite nation of Moldova. 

An Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Moldova has been clearing up radioactive materials throughout Moldova and Transdniestria since 2012. Although the primary goal of the OSCE in Moldova is to ensure conflict resolution with Transnistria and operate as a democratic and economic organization.

Nuclear Smuggling through Moldova hosts a rich history,

  • 2010: 1.8kg of Uranium-238 was seized in Chisinau when three people attempted to sell it for $10 million.
  • 2011: 5kg of weapons-grade Uranium-232 six were detained for trying to sell the material for $20 million
  • 2014: 200g of Russian Uranium-235 was interdicted along with dirty-bomb blueprints, and an additional 1.5kg of Uranium-235 seized close to Moldovan border with Ukraine.
  • 2015: An ampoule of Caesium-137; materials contaminated with Caesium-137 was “found” in central Chisinau.
  • 2015: A large amount of Caesium-135 the smuggler demanded $2 million for, and other materials was recovered in a joint FBI-Moldovan raid.

International Exercises were Underway on the 23rd,

Moldova is one of the most poor and least free nations in Europe, it also hosts an odd nest of loyalties.

The 10th Special Forces Group just happened to be in Moldova on the 23rd as well. Albeit, 10th Group is just part of a contingent of two-hundred U.S. troops on a two-week joint military exercise with the Moldovan and Romanian military called Dragon Pioneer 2016.

 

 

A NATO, Partnership for Peace exercise was also being held in Moldova, Peace Shield – 2016. The Moldovan National Army became part of the NATO Operational Capabilities Concept (OCC,) program and 2007 and has regularly held American and NATO exercises.

 

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Russia has been pressing on Moldova via its Communist throw-back neighbor, Transdniestria. In March of this year, five-hundred Russian soldiers in one-hundred- vehicles conducted exercises along the Moldovan border.

Russia has also been illegally recruiting Moldovan citizens for the Russian army. An issue addressed by the Directorate of Defense Policy and Defense Planning (DPPD) of the Ministry of Defense met on the 22nd of June, in Chisinau with representatives from the Russian Federation and Embassy Attaché Office.

The Russian-backed, socialist party of Moldova is known to work in collusion with the Russian Federation and their local supporters are the majority of those running off to fight for Joe-Commie and the Russians. One can only wonder how they are able to obtain votes with their loyalist fleeing the country. Nevertheless, the socialist party has also been in opposition to American and NATO troops on joint-exercise in Moldova. Socialist party leader Igor Dodon, in the international language of typical political bullshit, called the exercises

A military occupation.

There is also a Russian garrison in the Transdniestrian capital, Tiraspol. The Russian force in the capital walk throughout the capital city, in uniform, Russian Federation flag displayed, with no concerns. a fact I observed when I paid a visit to Tiraspol late last year . . . The Russian Federation, Ministry of Defense, claims that at any given time, 1,300 Russian soldiers are on the ground in Transdniestrian, and 350 of them are listed as “Peacekeepers.”

Fortunately, they weren’t expecting me, and I entered the communist nation through creative measures. Some of the details on the Moldovan side of the border you can read about, here. – We’re still waiting to get the video together for the Transdniestria article(s).

When it rains, it pours in Moldova,

As the arrests were underway on the other side of the capital, Chisinau; Moldova was also coming to terms with some very real issues in Parliament; a return to presidential election by direct voting. A draft law was passed, on the 23rd of June in 2016 – that’s right, folks – it could always be worse than it is at home.

 Thus, the Moldovan president will be elected by universal, equal, direct, secret and free voting for a four-year mandate. The election constituencies and electoral councils of second level will be set up 55 and, respectively, 50 days before the polls. –State News Agency, Moldpres

It was also Sovereignty Day in Moldova, the President who was not elected by direct voting,  Nicolae Timofti provided this statement as his nation was running amuck in the fringes,

 

President Nicolae Timofti. Via Moldpres.
President Nicolae Timofti. Via Moldpres.

This day is significant from the viewpoint of edification of the sovereign and independent state Republic

of Moldova. Twenty-six years ago, in the context of an irreversible process of collapse of the Soviet empire, the union republics embarked on the road of sovereignty and independence. On 23 June 1990, the Supreme Soviet of RSS Moldova of the 12th legislative period adopted the Declaration on Sovereignty,

Moldova is a sovereign state. The Sovereignty of RSS Moldova is the only condition of existence of Moldova’s statehood. RSSM is a unitary and indivisible state.

Again, that was a statement from the selected, not elected president.

Economical and with provisions of desperately need-oversight, President Timofti is at least playing the game to align Moldova with the European Union. July first will bring Moldova a step further away from an agricultural and black-market economy and into free-trade with the launch of an Association and Free Trade Agreement between EU and Moldova.

Don’t get your hopes up, though, as all of this was going down – Ilan Shor, mayor of the town of Orhei was arrested on money laundering charges.  Mayor Ilan Shor, may or may not be guilty as Moldovan authorities have been seeking out a scapegoat for the $1 billion that disappeared from four Moldovan banks in 2014.

I was fortunate enough to be on the street with the protesters in Moldova, and you can review that report and watch the video, here. My personal favorite remark on the events came from a man named Mikhail, in downtown Chisinau at night, he spoke on the long-term results of corruption,

‘Money, nobody respects money anymore. Only those who have it, respect it and the people do not have money.’  – He was speaking on the corruption and lack of accountability in Moldovan politics. Many others were upset with the current system, in that their leaders have consistently failed them and maintained an ominous presence over the people, through a system of fear and intimidation.

 

Featured Media – Moldovan Ministry of Defense, SIS, and Publika.md