Moldovan prosecutors are secretive and very reluctant to reveal any information about the attempted murder. The media between the Dniester and the Prut learned about the alleged criminal group from the authorities in Kiev, while Moldovan prosecutors provided information only on the following day.
However, there were witnesses to the detentions and searches conducted and some of those detained are well known in Chisinau.
Who has been detained in Chisinau?
According to the police, eight people were detained in Chisinau, including two Ukrainians and six Moldovans. Residents of the capital, especially those who are familiar with the world of sport, recognized in the video, aired by the police, Valeri Zabolotnii, co-president of Moldova-Bulgaria Association of Friendship and Cooperation and vice-president of IFAVIS Foundation, who is chaired by Grigore Caramalac, aka Bulgaru.
IFAVIS Foundation was created by Caramalac to help veterans of Moldovan sports. In addition to helping veterans, Caramalac's Foundation is known for its financial support offered to young athletes and sports clubs and federations, especially wrestling clubs.
It is known that Grigore Caramalac is a former athlete, who practiced wrestling, as well as Valeri Zabolotnii, who in October 2016, became a silver medalist at a veterans' championship, held in Poland.
Valeri Zabolotnii is an old friend of Caramalac’s. In 1998, when General Alexei started the hunt of the "gang of Grisha Bulgaru", Zabolotnii was also arrested. During the arrest, he was injured. Subsequently, Zabolotnii was sentenced to four years of imprisonment.
Zabolotnii has openly stated that he is Caramalac’s representative in Moldova.
However, this did not prevent Zabolotnii from being on friendly terms with various senior officials.
Sources of CrimeMoldova stated that it was Zabolotnii, who, at the request of Caramalac, made the advance payment to the killers, rented an apartment for them and prepared a car with Lithuanian registration numbers to escape after committing the attack.
On the evening of April 7, Special Forces officers raided the office of Zabolotnii inside Sigma former factory, which is on the balance of Elat Holding. The killers were also held within about 100 meters from Elat Shopping Center. Earlier, CrimeMoldova wrote in one of its investigations that a part of Elat holding, taken over in 2012 from Leonid Volneanschi, is controlled by Grigore Caramalac and the leader of Our Party, Renato Usatii, who fled to Moscow.
Curiously, on the day of his detention, Zabolotnii’s former wife, put up for sale the house, which is situated behind Jumbo Shopping Center.
Another person, detained in the case of attempted murder of Plahotniuc is Andrei Gusan, a boxing coach in Chisinau, who has been convicted four times. Gusan is closely associated with Zabolotnii and they can often be seen together.
Valeri Zabolotnîi and Andrei Guşan. Source: facebook.com
Moreover, Andrei Gusan is a member of Our Party and an ardent supporter of Renato Usatii.
Gusan is also a supporter of Igor Dodon and of the Socialist Party and sometimes participates in activities, organized by the socialists.
At the same time, Andrei Gusan is closely associated with criminal leaders, such as Vladimir Moscalciuc, aka Makena. The athlete was seen in the company of Dima Bolshoi, who is Makena’s right hand at large.
The official version of Moldovan prosecutors is that Grigore Caramalac is the one, who contracted the assassination of Plahotniuc. The main reason is his desire to control the politics in Moldova.
Caramalac’s tendency to control the politics in Chisinau from the backstage is known since the times when he only built his empire. The first attempt was made during the presidency of Petru Lucinschi, the second president of Moldova. Bulgaru sponsored generously Lucinschi's presidential campaign. Mircea Snegur and Petru Lucinschi obtained most of the votes in the first ballot and the first accumulated more votes than his rival. In the runoff, Lucinschi defeated Snegur, reaching the presidency, and this was largely due to Caramalac.
When he arrived in the presidential office, Lucinschi refused to pay back Caramalac and even requested him to cede to his son, Sergiu, almost half of Boeana Group, one of the most prosperous companies at that time. Several sources state that Grigore Caramalac, angered, stuck a knife into Lucinschi’s back. Immediately afterwards, General Nicolae Alexei, who was in close relations with the president, began the great hunt of Bulgaru and his people.
The second target of Caramalac was Vladimir Voronin. The communist leader accepted the sponsorship of Caramalac, but when he became president, he acted exactly as his predecessor. Moreover, the former Minister of Internal Affairs declared a war on organized crime that affected some people, who were representing Caramalac's interests in Moldova.
The first attempt to remove Voronin from Moldovan politics, was undertaken by Caramalac in the spring of 2005, when Moldovan Special Services detained on a train, stationed in Bulboaca, several diversionists, paid by Caramalac.
They also say that Grigore Caramalac was involved in the organization of the violent protests of April 2009 to avenge Voronin.
After the change of power in 2009, Caramalac tried again to control the Moldovan political life by implementing a new project that of Renato Usatii. Originally, this project was successful; Usatii became a close friend of the former Prime Minister Vlad Filat. However, Caramalac was not satisfied with this, especially because of disagreements between Filat and Plahotniuc and he decided to launch a massive attack on Moldovan political arena with the help of Renato Usatii. However, Plahotniuc blocked the project.
While the LDP, led by Filat, was in power, the former Deputy Prosecutor General Andrei Pantea, sent to Moscow Caramalac’s case, initiated back in the late 1990's but the prosecutors of the Russian Federation left the case without examination, claiming procedural mistakes. Once Democratic Party came to power, Caramalac's case was restored and a criminal case was initiated against Andrei Pantea.It is known that Grigore Caramalac is a member of the most powerful mafia organization in Russia, known as "Solntevskaia group". It is also known that Russian FSB (Federal Security Service) protects this group, which attempts to control politics in several countries.
It has been previously written that Plahotniuc was monitored by Interpol, being suspected of liaison between leaders of "Solntevskaia group" and politicians in Bucharest.
The version of framed attempted murder
Another possible version is that Plahotniuc ordered someone to stage his assassination attempt and his friend, Petro Poroshenko, who has a shady business in Moldova, helped him.
Plahotniuc, who is said to suffer from low ratings, is trying at all costs to restore his image. Being a target of an attack would improve his image, as citizens want a leader, who fights corruption and organized crime.
Police released a video recording, in which three men, the alleged killers, discuss in the broad daylight in a busy courtyard the assassination of Plahotniuc. Moreover, one of them draws with a finger in the sand the assassination scheme. Meanwhile, the police are standing nearby and shooting them freely, obtaining recordings of rather good quality.
This version is backed up by the fact that the three alleged killers had mobile phones on them. It is known that mobile phones enable law enforcers to monitor them and, during the secret talks, phones are usually turned off and set aside. Experienced fighters, including from the Donbas, must have known this. On the other hand, those investigating the case, say that these are some former convicts, and Caramalac, being a little stingy, allegedly accepted the "cheapest" killers.
The weapons that police of Ukraine and Moldova found on the alleged assassins also raise questions. Judging by their arsenal, they not only intended to kill the leader of the DPM, but they also wanted to organize a real show of fireworks at the Global Business Center on Cantemir Boulevard, killing numerous employees.
Version of challenge
Some sources claim that, in fact, it was a challenge of the Ukrainian secret services and the so-called criminal group had been infiltrated an undercover intelligence officer from Ukraine. Kiev announced that Russian FSB was behind the assassination attempt of the Moldovan oligarch.
According to some information, the so-called killers had come to Caramalac with the proposal to "solve their problem" and that he was persuaded by their insistence. Then Grigore Caramalac instructed Zabolotnii to help these people.
The Minister of Internal Affairs, Alexandru Jizdan, said on Sunday, April 9, during a TV program on Channel 2, that the killers had been contracted and they had not known the name of the victim until their arrival in Moldova and in the event of the murder of the target, the compensation amount would be more than 200 000 dollars. According to Jizdan, thwarting of the attempted murder was possible due to the infiltration of undercover agents in organized criminal groups.
Whatever the correct version might be, the attempted assassination played right into the hands of Vlad Plahotniuc. Now, most likely, Ukraine will also put Caramalac and Usatii on the wanted list and the leader of the DPM will appear before the citizen of Moldova as a fierce fighter against corruption and organized crime, for which he almost paid with his life.