Ukraine extradites two Moldovans over anti-government protests

Ukraine extradites two Moldovans over anti-government protestsKiev/Chisinau - Ukraine has extradited a pair of Moldovan nationals suspected of organising violent anti-government protests in Chisinau, a Ukrainian official confirmed Thursday.

Businessman Gabriel Stati and his associate Auren Marinescu have been returned to the Moldovan capital "and are no longer on Ukrainian territory," said Oleksander Shinalsky, a spokesman for the Prosecutor General's office.

Moldova's government requested last week that Ukraine to detain and extradite the pair, on suspicion of financing violent demonstrations in Chisinau earlier this month.

Ukrainian border police detained Stati and Marinescu on April 9, at an airport in the Black Sea port Odessa.

Stati's father is energy billionaire Anatoly Stati, a longtime opponent of Moldova's ruling Communist government. The senior and junior Stati both have accused Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin of conducting a witch hunt against Moldovan opposition members involved in street violence in Chisinau on April 7 and 8.

A crowd of mostly student-age protestors demonstrating against what they alleged was a fixed April 5 election result overran Moldova's parliament building in Chisinau, setting it on fire.

One person died and more than 250 persons were injured the street battles between demonstrators and police. Moldovan law enforcers since the riots have detained some 190 suspects without filing formal charges.

Voronin on Wednesday said the government should stop searching for suspects as calm had returned to Chisinau's streets.

Moldova's government has also moved against Romanian agents allegedly responsible for organising the chaos, as well as cracking down on protestors.

In the last 10 days it has switched off Romanian television transmissions in Moldova, throwing most Romanian journalists out of the country, and declaring Romania's ambassador to Moldova a persona non-grata.

Romanian officials have denied the Moldovan claims. (dpa)