Popsoi: Russia is using a variety of measures — from AI-generated deep fakes to bags of cash — to undermine democracy in Moldova

Russia employs a multifaceted array of tactics, ranging from AI-generated deep fakes to financial incentives, to subvert democracy in Moldova, offering a glimpse into potential challenges faced by Western nations, according to Mihai Popsoi, Moldova’s Foreign Minister.

“Moldova is sort of a Petri dish of Russian hybrid warfare and election meddling. What we see in Moldova now will most likely be deployed in upcoming elections in our partner countries in the West,” Mihai Popsoi, Moldova’s foreign minister, said in an interview in Washington.

Describing Moldova as a testing ground for Russian hybrid warfare and election interference, Popșoi highlighted the significance of developments within the nation, indicating their potential replication in Western democracies. Moldova, with its population of 2.6 million and strategic location between Ukraine and Romania, has experienced mounting pressure since the onset of Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, exacerbated by its reliance on Russian gas, which has triggered energy crises.


Popsoi outlined Russia’s tactics, which include the creation of AI-generated deep fake videos targeting Moldovan politicians and the distribution of financial incentives to sway voters across villages and towns. With presidential elections and a referendum on European Union membership scheduled for October, these efforts are expected to intensify.

He revealed instances where Moldovan customs officials intercepted luggage containing substantial sums of cash, earmarked for voter bribery, with individual town and village names inscribed on the bags. Popsoi noted the fusion of traditional and modern methods by Russia to maximize their influence, incorporating tactics such as money laundering, AI manipulation, and the orchestration of protests.

Additionally, Popsoi emphasized cyber attacks as a favored tool of Russian interference. Moldova recently experienced a severe cyber attack that temporarily incapacitated postal services, a disruption attributed to Russia with high certainty by Moldovan authorities.

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