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European Kingdoms

Eastern Europe


Moldavia & Bessarabia

There is no archaeological evidence of a Scandinavian origin for the Przeworsk culture, but there is some evidence of an undetermined connection between north-western Europe (Jutland, Holstein, Mecklenburg) and central Poland, western Ukraine, and Moldova at the crossover from Early Pre-Roman Iron Age into the late period, during the second half of the third century BC. The nature of this connection is still the subject of study by a good many scholars from many northern and Eastern European countries, but it would seem to offer tentative support to a migration of early Germanic tribes from Jutland and surrounding environs.

Much of Moldavia was occupied by the Germanic Bastarnae in the first century BC, but parts of this tribe were subjugated by Rome and resettled on the south bank of the Danube, while the rest came to be dominated by the Goths. Subsequently, the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia were the first Vlach (Romance-language) states to form north of the Danube. They appeared once the incursions by nomadic Steppe peoples such as the Huns and Mongols had ceased. They were never subject to the Byzantine emperors in Constantinople, and they occupied territories that had only been partially occupied and then swiftly abandoned by the Roman empire in the third century.

As with Wallachia, during the fourteenth century, the principality of Moldavia gained a degree of self-rule which ended with the Turkish occupation and rule of the Balkans.

Wallachian cultural costume

(Additional information by Jes Martens and Edward Dawson.)

? - 1365

Bogdan the Founder

1365 - 1374


1374 - 1391

Petru Mursat

1391 - 1394

Roman I

1394 - 1399

Stephen I

1400 - 1432

Alexander the Good

1418? - 1456

Petru Aaron

1457 - 1504

Stephen II the Great

1517 - 1527


1527 - 1538

Petru Rares


Moldavia is conquered by the Ottomans. Ottoman rule is not direct, and local princes are allowed to govern the principality.

Map of the Tartar Khanates AD 1500
The Mongol empire created by Chingiz Khan gradually broke up over the course of three hundred years until, by around AD 1500, it had fragmented into several more-or-less stable khanates which each vied with the others for power and influence, while having to fend off the growing power of the Ottoman empire to the south and Moscow Sate (Muscovy) to the north - in the end it was an unwinnable fight (click or tap on map to view full sized)


Alexandru Lapusneaunu

1561 - 1563

Iacob Eraclid

1572 - 1574

John the Terrible

1574 - ?

Peter the Lame


Stefan Razvan

1600 - 1601

Michael the Brave of Transylvania briefly unites the three principalities that later form Rumania - Moldavia, Transylvania, and Wallachia.

? - 1606

Ieremia Movila

1606 - 1607

Simeon Movila

1626 - 1629

Miron Barnovschi Movila


Miron Barnovschi Movila

1634 - 1653

Vasie Lupu

1685 - 1693

Constantine Cantemir

Phanaroits (Tax Farmer Princes) in Moldavia
AD 1711 - 1821

In occupied Wallachia and Moldavia, the Ottomans began the destructive practice of appointing Greek tax farmers, known as the Phanariots (from the Phanar section of Istanbul), as princes. They were placed in power simply to get as much money out of the land as possible.

Wallachian cultural costume

(Additional information from Security Dynamics in the Former Soviet Bloc, Graeme P Herd & Jennifer D P Moroney (2003), Democratic Consolidation in Eastern Europe, Jan Zielonka (2001), Russia - Continuity and Change, Gerald Hinteregger & Hans-Georg Heinrich (Eds), European Yearbook 2000, Francis Rosenstiel, Edith Lejard, Jean Boutsavath & Jacques Martz, De Facto States: The Quest for Sovereignty, Barry Bartmann, T Bahcheli (2004), and from External Links: BBC Country Profiles, and Jewish Encyclopaedia.)

1711 - 1714

Nicholas Mavrocordat

Tax Farmer of Wallachia (1716-1717, 1719-1730).

1714 - 1716

Stephen Cantacuzino

1717 - ?

Michael Racovita

Tax Farmer of Wallachia (1741-1744).

1726 - 1733

Gregoy Ghica

1741 - 1743

Constantine Mavrocordat

Tax Farmer of Wallachia (1735-1741, 1744-1748).

? - 1763

Constantine Mavrocordat


The Russian right of intervention is established at the Treaty of Kuchuk Karinarji.

1774 - 1777

Gregoy Ghica

1786 - 1788

Alexander Ypsilanti

Former prince of Wallachia (1775-1782). Restored (1796).

? - 1806

Alexander Moruzi


Russia begins to administer an area known as the Pale of Settlement. Initially this is small, but it increases greatly from 1793 and the Second Partition of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. By the mid-nineteenth century it incorporates modern Belarus (eastern Poland at the time), eastern Latvia, Lithuania, the province of Bessarabia (modern Moldova), and western Ukraine. Having formerly been citizens of the defunct commonwealth, the Jewish Diaspora population of the 'Pale' (mainly Ashkenazi Jews) is restricted from moving eastwards into Russia proper.

1806 - 1812

The Russians take Wallachia and Moldavia from the Ottomans in battle and occupy the region. Upon the advance into Russia of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, they sign a quick treaty and evacuate their troops northwards.

1812 - 1819

Scarlat Calimah

1828 - 1834

Russia re-occupies both principalities and controls the area under Governor Count Kisselev, with Fyodor Yakovlevich Mirkovich as military administrator (later to be governor of Vilnius from 1840). In 1834, Moldavia and Wallachia adopt a unified basic constitution, the Reglamentul Organic, which provides for their eventual unification.

1834 - 1849

Mihai Sturdza

1848 - 1851

Russia occupies both principalities.

1853 - 1854

Russia again occupies both principalities, but is preoccupied fighting the Crimean War (1853-1856).

1854 - 1857

Russia is weakened after losing the Crimean War. Austria occupies the principalities, which are now united as one administrative region.


Effectively united with Wallachia as a single principality, the country is now under autonomous rule.

1859 - 1866

Alexander John Cuza of Moldavia

Ruled both Moldavia and Wallachia. Abdicated.


The personal union of the two Danubian principalities is consolidated into a new state which is called Rumania. Prince Cuza (known by the local form of his name, Alexandru Ioan Cuza) launches an ambitious policy of economic, political, military, educational and social reform, encompassing a parliament, land reform and the adoption of a civil code.


Landed interests and disgruntled liberal politicians force the increasingly authoritarian Prince Cuza to abdicate. Parliament invites the Prussian Prince Karl (Charles) Eitel Frederick of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen to succeed him.

1866 - 1881

Charles of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen

Prussian prince invited to rule both principalities.


When the Ottomans are defeated in the Russo-Turkish War (1876-1878). Russia invades the area and Rumania is proclaimed independent. As in Greece and Bulgaria, a European prince heads the new monarchy. Charles / Karl of Hohenzollern is recognised by the Congress of Berlin, and Wallachia and Moldavia are officially united to form Rumania.


The kingdom of Rumania is officially proclaimed, with Charles as its first monarch. Romanians in the Hungarian province of Transylvania form a National Party to campaign for their rights, but meet with repression by the Hungarian authorities.

In the same year, the first modern-era wave of Jewish Diaspora migrations back to Palestine begins with an event known as the First Aliyah. The Jews are fleeing pogroms in Eastern Europe, most notably in the territories of the Russian empire under Alexander III and his imposition of anti-liberalisation reforms. These may be partially the result of the Polish-Lithuanian January Uprising of 1863.

Russia operates an area known as the Pale of Settlement, largely territory to the west which has been acquired from the former Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. Today this forms Russia's western border region, and from 1791-1793 it has incorporated modern Belarus (eastern Poland at the time), eastern Latvia, Lithuania, the province of Bessarabia (modern Moldova), and western Ukraine.

The Jewish population of the 'Pale' (mainly Ashkenazi Jews) is restricted from moving eastwards into Russia proper and is now being discouraged from remaining in the western border regions of the empire. Some of their number end up elsewhere in the world, especially the USA, but also China where they form the Chinese Jews.

1904 - 1914

The Second Aliyah to Palestine is triggered in 1903 by an anti-Jewish riot in the city of Kishinev (modern Chişinău), the capital of the province of Bessarabia in Moldavia, now part of the Russian empire. Something like forty thousand members of the Jewish Diaspora settle in Palestine, although only half remain permanently.

Many others, evicted from their settlements in the 'Pale' head towards western Poland or America (something that is dramatically highlighted, if with a touch of artistic licence, in the film musical, Fiddler on the Roof, 1971. which has its final scenes set in 1905).

1916 - 1918

The death of King Karel has ended Rumania's alliance with the First World War Central Powers. On 17 August 1916, Rumania, long courted by the Allies, is finally persuaded by promises from France and Russia that it will gain the principality of Transylvania from Hungary. Its war effort is quickly defeated when it attacks into Hungary instead of holding a front against Bulgaria, as agreed. However, when the Russian and Austrian empires collapse it gets what it wants. Furthermore, the ethnic Rumanians of the Russian provinces of Bessarabia and Moldavia declare a Moldavian People's Republic in January 1918, with the Rumanian army close at hand. In April, these regions become part of Rumania proper. The country's gains in populace amount to about a quarter of its total figure, although it has lost Southern Dobruja to Bulgaria.

Kingdom of Rumania with Bessarabia & Moldavia
AD 1918 - 1940

The state of Romania (or Rumania in older usage) came into being as a principality in 1859 under Ottoman suzerainty. It was formed out of the late-Byzantine and then Ottoman-ruled Danubian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia. The new country gained independence from the Ottomans in 1877-1878 following the Ottoman defeat at the hands of Russia. Karl (or Karel) of the Prussian royal family of Hohenzollern had already been invited to form a new monarchy for Wallachia, and so he became the first king of Rumania in 1881 when the kingdom was officially proclaimed.

Northern Dobruja was soon added in return for Rumania's part in the 1876-1878 Russo-Turkish War and in compensation for the loss of some territory which abutted southern Bessarabia (mostly within modern Moldova). This gave the kingdom much of its Black Sea coastline to the north of the Danube.

Much more territory was added out of the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire, between 1918-1920. Romanians in the Hungarian province of Transylvania had already formed a 'National Party' to campaign for their rights, but had met with repression by the Hungarian authorities. Now they too were able to join Rumania, in 1919, beginning the 'Greater Romania' period which lasted until 1940.

The Balkans Mountains in Albania, by wiredforadventure.com

(Additional information from Hitler's Forgotten Ally: Ion Antonescu and his Regime, Romania, 1940-1944, Dennis Deletant, 2006, and Europe Since 1945: An Encyclopaedia Volume 1, Bernard A Cook (Ed), and from External Link: BBC Country Profiles.)

1914 - 1927


King of Rumania, Bessarabia & Moldavia.


Upon the death of King Ferdinand, his son Karel is prevented from succeeding him thanks to a scandalous lifestyle and a renunciation of his rights to the Rumanian throne. Instead his own son, the young Michael, is placed on the throne with Karel's brother Nicolae acting as regent. Karel spends three years in exile.

1927 - 1930

Michael / Mihai

King of Rumania, Bessarabia & Moldavia.

1927 - 1930


Uncle and regent.


Karel changes his mind about accepting exile and returns to Rumania. With the support of the governing National Peasants' Party he proclaims himself king, effectively deposing his own son. This is despite having permanently signed away any right to rule in official documents which had been written and signed in front of his own father.

1930 - 1940

Karel / Carol II

King of Rumania, Bessarabia & Moldavia. Forced to abdicate.


As with elsewhere in Europe, this decade is an unsettled and dangerous one for Rumania, together with its eastern regions of Bessarabia and Moldavia. The country witnesses the rise of the green-shirted fascist 'Iron Guard' mass movement and weakened government after government as the country lurches towards nationalist leanings.

King Karel II of Rumania
King Karel II of Rumania, pictured next to his brother, Prince Nicholas (on the right), became increasingly dictatorial during the troubled years of the 1930s


Following the country's slide towards fascism and his own somewhat mixed relationship with fascism's leaders in Rumania, Karel II establishes an absolute monarchy - effectively a dictatorship.


Russia seizes Bessarabia before Rumania becomes an active ally of Germany. The seizure is made under the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The industrialised territory to the east of the Dniester, generally known as Trans-Dniester or the Dniester region, is taken from Ukraine and combined with Bessarabia to form the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR)
AD 1940 - 1991

The region of Bessarabia, on the west bank of the River Dniester, had been part of the kingdom of Rumania since 1918. Soviet Russia seized it in 1940 before Rumania could become an active ally of Nazi Germany. The seizure was made under the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

The industrialised territory to the east of the Dniester was generally known as Trans-Dniester or the Dniester region. An autonomous area within Ukraine until now, it was taken by Moscow and combined with Bessarabia to form the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.

The bulk of the Moldavian republic lay between the rivers Dniester and Prut.

Two-thirds of Moldovans were and still are of Romanian descent, the languages being virtually identical, and the two countries share a common cultural heritage. This area was inhabited mainly by Russian and Ukrainian speakers who shared no real cultural or linguistic affinity with the Bessarabians.

The Balkans Mountains in Albania, by wiredforadventure.com

(Additional information from Security Dynamics in the Former Soviet Bloc, Graeme P Herd & Jennifer D P Moroney (2003), Democratic Consolidation in Eastern Europe, Jan Zielonka (2001), Russia - Continuity and Change, Gerald Hinteregger & Hans-Georg Heinrich (Eds), European Yearbook 2000, Francis Rosenstiel, Edith Lejard, Jean Boutsavath & Jacques Martz, De Facto States: The Quest for Sovereignty, Barry Bartmann, T Bahcheli (2004), and from External Links: BBC Country Profiles.)


Increasingly alarmed at the state of the Soviet Union, the prospect of its break-up, and that of closer ties with Romania, the Trans-Dniester region of Moldavia unilaterally declares independence from Moldova. A long, narrow strip of territory on the east bank of the Dniester, its population is largely formed of Ukrainian and Russian speakers who do not share the largely Romanian heritage of the majority of Moldavians.

The Russian-sympathising Gagauz region in Moldavia's south-west also declares independence from both entities. On 19 August 1990 it declares itself to be the 'Gagauz Soviet Socialist Republic'.


Thanks to behind-the-scenes manoeuvring by the newly-elected president of the Russian republic, Boris Yeltsin, on Christmas Day 1991 Communist USSR President Gorbachev announces the termination of the Soviet Communist State. The Soviet Republics become independent sovereign states (if they had not already become so since 1989), including Belarus, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, North Ossetia, Poland, Romania, Transnistria, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Modern Moldova
AD 1991 - Present Day
Incorporating Heads of State (1991-2022)

The modern state of Moldova is a parliamentary republic which has its capital in the city of Chișinău (often shown in English-language publications as Chisinau, and known historically as Kishinev). Initially the 'Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova' from 1990, it became simply the 'Republic of Moldova' in 1991. A landlocked country, Moldova is surrounded to the north, east, and south by Ukraine, and to the west by Romania. The breakaway region of Transnistria also sits along a good deal of that eastern border.

The bulk of Moldova lies between the rivers Dniester and Prut. Historically this region was known as Bessarabia, while the equally historical region of Moldavia - which often included Bessarabia - incorporated double the territory of today's Moldova, stretching an equal distance to the west of the Prut. The eighteenth century principality of Moldavia was adjoined to the kingdom of Romania in 1918, but the USSR seized its Bessarabia section in 1940 before Romania could become an active ally of Germany.

Prior to that happening, the industrialised territory to the east of the Dniester, generally known as Trans-Dniester or the Dniester region, had formed an autonomous area within Ukraine. This was now taken from the 'Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic' and combined with Bessarabia to form the 'Moldavia Soviet Socialist Republic'. Having declared independence from the collapsing USSR on 27 August 1991, modern Moldova is a little smaller than Bessarabia, with only part of its former territory on the east bank of the Dniester having been recovered from Ukraine.

Two-thirds of Moldovans are of Romanian descent, the languages being virtually identical, and the two countries share a common cultural heritage. East of the Dniester, in Transnistria, much of the population is formed from Russian and Ukrainian speakers. As people there became increasingly alarmed at the prospect of closer ties with Romania in the tumultuous twilight years of the Soviet Union, Trans-Dniester unilaterally declared independence from Moldova in 1990 as Transnistria. They remain divided from Moldova but unrecognised as a nation state in their own right.

Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe and has a large foreign debt and high unemployment levels. It has been heavily dependent upon Russia for energy supplies, and Russia has not hesitated in taking advantage of this fact as a way of exerting economic pressure on Moldova. The fact that the Moldovan economy has traditionally also been heavily dependent upon the export of wine to Russia has also allowed Moscow to apply economic pressure by occasionally banning that import. The situation seems to be shifting after Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, with the European Union becoming Moldova's preferred market.

The Balkans Mountains in Albania, by wiredforadventure.com

(Information by Peter Kessler and the John De Cleene Archive, with additional information from Security Dynamics in the Former Soviet Bloc, Graeme P Herd & Jennifer D P Moroney (2003), from Democratic Consolidation in Eastern Europe, Jan Zielonka (2001), from Russia - Continuity and Change, Gerald Hinteregger & Hans-Georg Heinrich (Eds), from European Yearbook 2000, Francis Rosenstiel, Edith Lejard, Jean Boutsavath & Jacques Martz, from De Facto States: The Quest for Sovereignty, Barry Bartmann, T Bahcheli (2004), from Washington Post (22 December 1991, 10 May 1996, 3 December 1996, 27 February 2001, & Digest, 17 March 2012), and from External Links: BBC Country Profiles, and Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB), and Moldova (Flags of the World), and Moldova (Rulers.org), and Moldova (Zárate's Political Collections (ZPC)), and How the conflict started (Veridica), and Royal funeral for Romania's uncrowned Queen Anne (BBC), and Moldova and the Russia-EU tug of war explained (The Week), and Moldova holds security meeting (The Guardian), and Moldovan PM resigns (The Guardian), and Plotting to oust pro-EU government (The Guardian).)

1990 - 1997

Mircea Snegur

President. Communist Party of Moldova (PCM / PCRM).


Following the official dissolution of the Soviet Union and the declaration of Moldovan sovereignty, fierce fighting takes place in the Trans-Dniester region as it tries to assert its 1990 declaration of independence in the form of a presidential republic. Although violence has been building for some months, it is 2 March 1992 which is marked as the start of the Transnistrian War.

Burned Russian tank in Moldova, 1992
A Russian 14th Army tank as used by the guards of the pro-Russian separatist, self-proclaimed Trans-Dniester republic, having been burned out by Moldovan police near Bendery, Moldova, on 27 June 1992

Between March and July 1992, hundreds die, and the violence only ends with the introduction of Russian 'peacekeepers' acting on the side of the separatists. Calling itself the 'Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic' (PMR, also known as Pridnestrovie), Trans-Dniester's independence remains unrecognised and the region exists in a state of lawless and corrupt limbo. Moldova refers to it as Stînga Nistrului, meaning 'Left Bank of the Dniester'.


Late in 1994 the Moldovan parliament grants autonomous status to the Turkic-speaking Gagauz region in the country's south-west. In partial recompense for having relinquished its independence - declared on 19 August 1990 in the form of the 'Gagauz Soviet Socialist Republic' - it has powers over its own political, economic, and cultural affairs.

1997 - 2001

Petru Lucinschi

President. No party.

2001 - 2009

Vladimir Voronin

President. PCRM.


The Trans-Dniester region (Transnistria) reasserts its demand for independence and also expresses support for a plan ultimately to join Russia in a September 2006 referendum which is unrecognised by Chișinău and the international community.

Modern Chișinău
Modern Chișinău bears all the hallmarks of mass Soviet-era concrete construction, although living standards in the twenty-first century are slowly improving

It still houses a stockpile of old Soviet military equipment and a contingent of troops of the Russian 14th Army. Withdrawal had begun in 2001 under international agreements but this had been halted when the Trans-Dniester authorities had blocked the dispatch of weapons. Subsequent agreements to resume the removal of weapons do not reach fruition as relations cool between Moscow and Chișinău.

2009 - 2010

Mihai Gimpu

Acting president. Liberal Party (PL).


Vlad Filat

Acting president. Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova

2010 - 2012

Marian Lupu

Acting president. Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova.


In November, Moscow issues an ultimatum to Chișinău, commanding Moldova to withdraw from energy agreements with the EU or face losing discounts on Russian gas supplies from Russia itself.

2012 - 2016

Nicolae Timofti

President. No party.

2013 - 2014

Wine is amongst a broad range of Moldovan agricultural exports which are banned by Russia before and after the country's signing of an EU association agreement alongside Ukraine and Georgia. But Moldova's pro-EU government defies calls from Russia for it to delay the deal's implementation.


A royal funeral takes place at Curtea de Arges in central Romania on 13 August 2016. A day of mourning is also declared both in Romania and Moldova, and flags fly at half-mast. The ceremony is for Queen Anne of Romania, after she passes away in hospital in Switzerland on 1 August, at the age of ninety-two.

Queen Anne of Romania
Anne of Bourbon-Parma, queen of Romania as the wife of King Michael, married the king after his forced abdication and exile, and did not even set foot in Romania until the 1990s

Romania's President Klaus Iohannis, Moldova's President Nicolae Timofti, many other statesmen, and thousands of well-wishers have already paid their respects as her coffin lay in state at Peles Castle at Sinaia and at the royal palace in Bucharest.

2016 - 2020

Igor Dodon

President. Party of Republic of Moldova Socialists (PSRM).


Further political turmoil grips Moldova as diplomatic tensions between Russia and the EU are played out in the former Soviet republic's domestic politics. On 8 June 2019 a new government is elected, with Maia Sandu as prime minister. The constitutional court declares the proceedings to be invalid, but the pro-Russian President Dodon appoints the government anyway.

On Sunday 9 June, Igor Dodon is stripped of his duties by the country's courts for refusing to dissolve parliament so that a second election can be held. He is replaced by a pro-EU interim president, Pavel Filip, former prime minister, who immediately calls snap elections for September.


Pavel Filip

Former prime minister and now interim president.

The crisis comes months after a general election which produces no clear victor. Filip's order for parliament to dissolve is refused by some lawmakers who claim that the country's state institutions have been seized. The row fuels fears of street violence as political tensions grow, although the situation eventually cools. Maia Sandu is the country's new president.

Moldavian demonstrators 2019
Demonstrators hold up the Moldovan flag as the political crisis of 2019 deepened in Moldova, although the press release which came with the image failed to state which side they were supporting - the pro-Russian or pro-EU side

2020 - On

Maia Sandu

First female president of Moldova. PAS.


On Monday 22 February, after months of increasing pressure from his side, President Putin takes the politically manipulative step of formally recognising as independent states the Russian-created breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine. Almost immediately afterwards, Putin orders Russian troops which had been massing along Ukraine's borders (and even its Belarussian border) to enter Ukraine and occupy it, although the plan immediately falters quite spectacularly.

For its part, Moldova starts taking in refugees who mainly enter via its northern and southern borders with Ukrainian territory. By April the separatist region of Transnistria is experiencing an increasing level of paramilitary actions against its pro-Russian forces (there are still fifteen hundred Russian troops permanently stationed in the region).

The Moldovan fear is that this is either the start of internecine fighting or a pretext for Moscow to invade - not that it is capable by this point, having failed to meet any of its targets in Ukraine.


Moldova's pro-western government resigns after eighteen months in power following a series of economic and political crises which have engulfed the country in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Moldovan President Maia Sandu
Moldova's president, Maia Sandu, convened a meeting of her security council on 26 April 2022 following a series of incidents in the breakaway region of Transnistria

The prime minister, Natalia Gavrilita, makes the statement at a news conference on Friday 10 February 2023, hours after Russia violates Moldovan airspace. President Sandu selects another pro-western candidate in the form of her security advisor, Dorin Recean.

She also discloses intercepted Russian plans to disrupt and remove the country's government with a Russian puppet administration. The ongoing protests have largely been organised by the party of the exiled opposition politician, Ilan Sho, a committed pro-Russian supporter.

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