During his long political career, the lawmaker and later President Igor Dodon has been timing his activities with a Moldovan affairs office in the Kremlin – a unit established to oversee and guide the Socialist Party leader and other politicians in the Republic of Moldova, either through intermediaries or directly.
Travels to Moscow were frequent. In 2016 alone – the year Dodon won his first presidential mandate – he embarked on at least ten flights to the Russian capital.
RISE Moldova has analyzed the agenda of the meetings the incumbent president saved in a BlackBerry smartphone he had used until mid-2017, sharing with the public the first hard evidence of Dodon’s collaboration with the Russian propaganda machine and political strategists.
A FLIGHT TO REPORT TO MASTER
17 December 2015. Igor Dodon, then a member of the Parliament and chairman of the Moldovan Socialist Party (PSRM) – in opposition at that time – shows up at the ordinary session of the legislature.
„They may even put a socialist star on the front – it won’t help them anyway,” says Dodon’s post on the Facebook, announcing this way his party’s intention to refuse enforcement for Vladimir Plahotniuc and Ion Sturza who competed for the post of prime minister.
But the Socialist leader would not reveal his agenda for the rest of the day – his flight to Moscow and the meeting with Igor Maslov, a high-ranking officer in the Russian intelligence services. Dodon’s BlackBerry calendar has a brief topic: „Maslov-meeting”.
Igor Maslov, 60 years old. According to the Досье Центр (Dossier Center), he is an active officer in colonel’s rank at the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and deputy chief of the Department for Inter-Regional and Cultural Affairs with Foreigners. Mr. Maslov runs a so-called Moldovan affairs office in the Moscow presidential administration. He is the custodian of many Moldovan politicians including Igor Dodon.
Maslov’s subordinates gather intel about Moldovan politics, prepare briefings and reports on politicians and high-ranking officials, fish for compromising information, edit speeches about Moldova both for Moldovan and Russian politicians.
The data which the Dossier Center analyzed for RISE Moldova shows that Igor Maslov reports to his direct supervisor: SVR General Vladimir Chernov.
Chernov has been directing the Department for Inter-Regional and Cultural Affairs with Foreigners since 2012; it is part of the Russian presidential administration. Aside from the screening and analysis of events in ex-Soviet republics, this task force briefs President Vladimir Putin about Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia (including Abkhazia and South Ossetya), Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Baltic countries, and Moldova (including Transnistria). Those briefings also land in the SVR headquarters and on the table of Dmitry Kozak, deputy chief of staff of the Russian presidential administration.
Kozak is in charge with the ties with the former Soviet states and the members of the Eurasian Economic Union. He is part of the close circle of President Vladimir Putin.
TOP SECRET – „A.P.”
18 December 2015. Igor Dodon’s agenda sets down a busy morning in Moscow.
Time: 8:30. A meeting with „Krotov M. Iosifovici”. In the smartphone contact list Krotov is referred to as “an advisor to Naryshkin. At that time Sergey Naryshkin was the chairman of the State Duma, lower chamber of the Russian legislature. A year later he was appointed director of SVR.
Time:12:00. Another meeting with „Loskutov Dmitrii Vladimirovici”. Mr. Loskutov has been directing Glavkosmos since the end of 2018. In 2015 he had served as a deputy to Dmitry Rogozin, who at that time was a deputy prime minister and a special envoy of the Russian president for Transnistria affairs.
RISE Moldova said in an earlier story how Mr. Rogozin had worked to ship humanitarian aid into Moldova’s eastern breakaway enclave without permission or coordination with the constitutional authorities, meaning that he was behind a contraband operation against Moldova.
In 2017, the Moldovan authorities declared Dmitry Rogozin personae non-grata, accusing him of „interference into the internal affairs of Moldova.”
Time: 13:00. Meeting at Gazprom Media, a daughter company of the Russian gas giant that controls NTV station. A coincidence or not, but a week ahead of this trip to Moscow, the license for re-broadcast of this TV channel in Moldova was awarded to Exclusiv Media SRL, a firm where Galina Dodon, the politician’s spouse, is hired since 2012.
Exclusiv Media SRL is owned by Socialist lawmaker Corneliu Furculiță. It appears in a RISE Moldova investigation as part of a scheme exposing Socialist Party officials involved in secret transactions with an offshore company tracking to Russia. The night of the same day Mr. Dodon returned to Chisinau.
Dodon’s next trip to Moscow is planned for 24 December 2015. There’s just one event in his agenda: „Admin.Presed”, which means almost for sure “Presidential Administration.”
One month later, on 19 January 2016, Igor Dodon schedules another meeting, and again with Igor Maslov, head of the Moldovan affairs office. The Moscow visit happened a day before the Moldovan Parliament approved of the candidacy of Pavel Filip to the post of prime minister. Mr. Filip was a Democratic Party fellow and close ally of oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, who unsuccessfully had claimed the job himself a week earlier.
The meeting with Mr. Maslov is pinned for early morning, between 8:00 and 9:00. In the afternoon Dodon met „Krotov M. Ios” as he appears in his agenda. Apparently this person is the same advisor to Naryshkin, the future director of SVR. In August 2017 – seven months after that meeting, Igor Dodon – already president of Moldova – will award the Order of Honor to Mr. Krotov.
For 16:00, Dodon is expected at an already known location „Adm. P.” [Presidential Administration].
JOURNEYS TO MOSCOW
We have not found one single public notice about the meetings Igor Dodon had in 2015-2016 with Igor Maslov, Moldovan affairs supervisor in the Kremlin; Mikhail Krotov, Naryshkin’s advisor; or Dmitry Loskutov, Rogozin’s aide.
In 2016 alone, before being elected as the president of Moldova, Igor Dodon traveled to the Russian capital at least ten times, to be sure. This fact is based on the records from the Russian flights database, which RISE Moldova has obtained.
RESIDENCE IN TIRASPOL
Browsing the contact list in Dodon’s BlueBerry we discovered two phone numbers for Igor Maslov: +7903969**** and +7495980****. We dialed one of these several times and sent an SMS, asking for comments pertaining our investigation at RISE Moldova. Mr. Maslov read the message but did not reply.
Vasily Kashirin: I work for the government and I am strictly prohibited from talking to the press. Not just foreign press, I mean Russian press too. Therefore please excuse me…
RISE reporter: In the Russian presidential administration you are in charge with Moldovan affairs, would you please speak to us about Moldova only?
Kashirin: No comment. […] I do know what you do, I respect your institution, but I will not make any comments. […] I don’t speak to the press.
RISE: But you do communicate with politicians in Moldova?
Kashirin: How do you know it?
RISE: According to information leaks from the office of Mr. Vladimir Chernov, you are tasked with writing report notes…
Kashirin: That’s it! I am no longer talking to you. Good bye.
In October 2014, the Moldovan authorities held Kashirin at the Chisinau Airport and expelled him back to Russia, citing concerns for the national security. At that time he was known on both banks of the Dniester River as an expert at the Russian Strategic Research Institute (IRCS), a governmental think tank under the leadership of SVR Lt.-General Leonid Reshetnikov. In 2017 Reuters reported that IRCS was working on plans for a propaganda campaign to influence the US presidential elections, which the institute’s new director Mikhail Fradkov, who formerly had served as SVR’s director, denied.
The data analyzed by RISE Moldova show that in 2014 the authorities of the breakaway region issued to Vasily Kashirin a “Transnistrian passport”, where his residence is mentioned 24 Ulitza Mira, city of Tiraspol. This address is in a residential block of flats. A coincidence or not, the same building hosts the NGO Eurasian Integration, which is closely connected to the contraband of humanitarian aid for the secessionist enclave.
POLITICIAN WITH PERSONAL INTERESTS
In September 2014, a PSRM delegation led by Igor Dodon was received by State Duma Chairman Sergey Naryshkin in Moscow. The party on return issued a press release quoting Mr. Naryshkin as saying that the Moldovan Socialists were “partners to trust.” This is not quite what the Russian truly think of PSRM and its leader, according to the Dossier Center. The same month General Vladimir Chernov received a bio description about Mr. Dodon. Not really praiseworthy.
„In Moldovan political circles, Igor Dodon has earned a reputation of a non-trustworthy politician, because his personal interests and ambitions prevail. According to Wikileaks files, when he ran for a seat in parliament in the anticipated July 2009 elections, on behalf of the Communists Party, he shared with the US Ambassador his plans to abandon this party and found a new, center-left-leaning party, which could later join forces with other non-Communist parties in order to elect the chief of state.”
On Tuesday, 13 October, RISE Moldova requested and interview from President Igor Dodon, via his press office. After days of waiting, our request was dismissed. We also tried to reach the Moldovan leaders directly but he didn’t answer our calls or SMS.
Therefore we still wonder whether Mr. Dodon knew about the SVR’s description for the Kremlin about himself. Igor Dodon yet made up his mind to seek a second term in office and one of his slogans this time around is «Надежный президент» (trustworthy president – as translated from Russian). In Romanian his staff preferred a more stylish slogan: „Președinte responsabil” („responsible president”).
Adaptation: Olga CEAGLEI and Nicolae CUȘCHEVICI