CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Moldovan prosecutors are questioning five people suspected of planning violent protests after parliamentary elections this weekend, amid concerns that Russia may try to gain greater influence in the country.
Deputy police chief Gheorghe Cavaliuc said authorities found pistols, grenade launchers, military uniforms, plans to attack unnamed institutes and large sums of money during house searches Wednesday morning.
Pro-European parties, ahead in the polls, face parties that seek closer relations with Russia in Sunday's ballot.
Moldova's central election committee voted 7-2 Wednesday to ban pro-Russia party Patria from competing in the elections on the grounds it received funding from abroad, which is illegal in Moldova. The party, created a few months ago, has risen in polls with its criticism of the pro-European government and a strong anti-corruption message.
It is led by businessman Renato Usatii. Critics say the party is a cover for Russian business interests in Moldova. Russia opposes the government's move toward the European Union and has placed a trade embargo on Moldovan fruit and wine after it signed an association agreement with the EU in June.
The Appeals Court will rule this week whether to uphold the committee's decision.
Authorities say they have identified 15 suspects, Moldovan and Russian, who are members of an outlawed Russian-backed organization that is planning unrest after the elections if pro-European parties win.
The General Prosecutor's office said a university professor suspected of recruiting students and an officer with access to classified information and weapons were among those questioned.