Moldova has asked Moscow to extradite Ilan Shor, yet received no response, the country’s justice minister claims FILE PHOTO. Workers fix an election campaign billboard depicting Moldova’s parliamentary candidate Ilan Shor in Chisinau on February 13, 2019. © AFP / Daniel Mihailescu

Moldova has formally requested Moscow extradite Israeli-Moldovan businessman and opposition leader Ilan Shor, the country’s Justice Veronica Mihailov-Moraru has said.

he minister made the remarks on Friday while speaking live to local broadcaster PRO TV. Chisinau has sent a new request to Israel to extradite Shor after the first one was shot down, as well as approached Moscow with the same demand.

“We have also requested the extradition of [Shor] from Russia to enforce the decisions of the [Chisinau] Appeal Board. We haven’t received a response yet,” Mihailov-Moraru claimed.

Earlier this month, the businessman revealed in an interview that he had also obtained a Russian passport, which makes his extradition effectively impossible since Moscow does not surrender its citizens to other countries. While Mihailov-Moraru said her ministry has not been informed the opposition leader has become a Russian national, the head of the local Interpol chapter, Viorel Țentiu, said earlier this year that was actually the case.

Shor was sentenced in absentia to 15 years behind bars by the judicial body last April. The charges are related to the so-called 2014 Moldovan bank fraud scandal, a massive coordinated corruption effort to launder and funnel funds worth $1 billion out of Moldova.

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The founder of the Sor Party and the leader of the Victory opposition bloc has long maintained his innocence, insisting the charges against him were politically motivated. Shor fled the country back in 2019, remaining abroad ever since. In 2020, Moldovan authorities issued an international arrest warrant for him, with the Appeal Board arresting his property and assets in the country.

The Sor Party, widely regarded as a “pro-Russian” force by its critics, ended up being outlawed in Moldova last June. Maia Sandu’s accused the party of being a mere front for organized crime and conspiring to “discredit the idea of democracy” through serving “oligarchs.” Ahead of imposing the ban on the party, Sandu asked the EU to sanction both Sor and its founder.

The party has long advocated maintaining good relations with Russia while opposing such ideas as joining the European Union, merging into Romania or forcibly seizing the unrecognized republic of Transnistria, which broke away from Moldova shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The unrecognized republic has hosted a small Russian peacekeeping force since 1992. (RT)