Moldovan prosecutors mull charges against general accused of spying for Russia

By Alexander Tanas

CHISINAU (Reuters) - Prosecutors in Moldova were awaiting additional information from the ex-Soviet state's intelligence services to determine whether to charge a general alleged to have passed sensitive information to Russia, U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe reported on Thursday.

Igor Gorgan, former chief of staff of Moldova's armed forces, is to be stripped of his rank of general as well as of state honours, pro-European President Maia Sandu's chief of staff said on Wednesday.

Adrian Balutal's announcement followed publication in a Russian investigative journal, The Insider, of allegations that Gorgan from 2022 passed sensitive information on both Moldova and neighbouring Ukraine to Russian intelligence services.

Radio Free Europe, quoting two security sources, said prosecutors were waiting for details from Moldova's SIB security service "following which prosecutors will decide whether to open a case under Article 337 of the criminal code on treason".

Moldova's relations with Moscow have deteriorated, with Sandu denouncing the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine and singling out Russia and corruption as the biggest threats facing the country. Russia accuses Sandu of fomenting Russophobia.

Gorgan was also suspended on Wednesday from his current position as head of security at the Chisinau office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the office's press secretary said. The office said it viewed "the grave allegations ... very seriously".

Moldova, with its population of 2.5 million, has welcomed since 2022 more than a million Ukrainian refugees, the highest per capita number of any country. Some 100,000 remain in the country,

Gorgan, dismissed by Sandu as chief of staff in 2021, was a graduate of a Soviet-era military school. He had earned two top state honours - for Military Services in 2006 and for Faith in the Fatherland in 2015.

Former Defence Minister Anatolie Salaru told Moldovan televsion that it was "abundantly clear that Gorgan is a traitor. He passed on very important information to the Russian special services. Russia uses traitors to destabilise Moldova."

(Reporting by Alexander Tanas, Editing by Ron Popeski and Marguerita Choy)