CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Moldovan police have detained a total of 13 suspected members of a paramilitary group allegedly planning to attack the capital and a northern city with a majority Russian population, with the aim of creating a new separatist republic similar to the one in eastern Ukraine.
The General Police Inspectorate said Thursday that the group wanted to assault state institutions in the capital, Chisinau, and in Balti, a city some 120 kilometers (75 miles) away — and seize the northern city.
Acting police chief Gheorghe Cavaliuc said the group planned to attack the prison in Balti and release prisoners they would try to recruit for attacks on private companies and the homes of Balti state officials.
Eight were charged Thursday with being part of the paramilitary group. Police said the suspected ringleader is from eastern Ukraine and has a criminal record.
The pro-Russian separatist republic of Trans-Dniester broke away from Moldova in 1990 amid fears the country wanted to reunite with neighboring Romania.
The semi-autonomous republic of Gagauzia in southern Moldova is also pro-Russian.