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Russian opens money laundering probe involving Moldova

A girl walks by electoral posters advertising the candidates of the Socialists' Party in Chisinau, Moldova, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, ahead of parliamentary elections taking place on Feb. 24. Moldova's president says the former Soviet republic needs good relations with Russia, amid uncertainty about the future of the European Union. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian Interior Ministry says that it has launched a money laundering probe involving the influential leader of Moldova’s Democratic Party, just two days before parliamentary elections in the former Soviet republic.

Moldovans go to the polls Sunday in an election that pits the president’s Socialists’ Party against the Democratic Party and the pro-EU opposition coalition.

The Russian Interior Ministry said in a statement Friday that it is investigating a money laundering scheme through two Russian banks which it believes was organized by some of Moldova’s richest men, Vladimir Plahotniuc and Veaceslav Platon. Plahotniuc is the leader of the Democratic Party and one of the most influential people in the country.

Russian police say they have detained a Russian national in connection with the case.

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