INVESTIGATION: A Fictitious Employment in Police: Godfather Plahotniuc and the Secret Mission of His Godson Damir
Dorin Damir, the godson of the oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, was infiltrated by the police to document his godfather. This is how Alexandru Pînzari, the head of the General Police Inspectorate at the time when Damir was “recruited” as a “secret agent”, defends himself. Pînzari says he is proud of this “project”, but he does not remember how he convinced Plahotniuc’s godson to work against his godfather.
The man who “hired” Damir claims that he became a senior “undercover” officer due to a grammatical mistake. There are four informative reports allegedly written by Damir, meant to maintain the illusion of his working for the police, which reported how, in 2017, the Russian Federation planned to invade Odessa, and Andrei Negut, then ambassador to Moscow, denigrated Moldova in an interview with the Russian press. Two of the reports consist of just one sentence. Although Damir was “recruited” to document Plahotniuc, there is no mentioning of his name in any of the reports.
Presently, Dorin Damir, Alexandru Pânzari and Valeriu Cojocaru, head of Department 5, the one that hired Plahotniuc’s godson, are charged with five crimes. As reference is made to state secret, the court hearings in this case are held behind closed doors. However, Ziarul de Garda was able to get documents from the case and presents, for the first time, details about the work of the “secret agent” Dorin Damir.
July 5, 2021. Time: 07:05.
Intelligence and Security Service officers and prosecutors from the Prosecutor’s Office for Combating Organized Crime and Special Cases (PCCOCS) are conducting searches in several locations in Chișinău in a criminal case launched on January 22, 2021. Following the raids, Dorin Damir, president of the Fighting & Entertainment Association, and Valeriu Cojocaru, former head of Directorate 5 within the National Inspectorate of Investigations are detained and, two days later, placed in pre-trial detention. The two are still under police custody.
July 30, 2021. Time: 06:45.
Prosecutors are conducting searches of car and home of Alexandru Pînzari, who was head of the General Police Inspectorate from 2016 to 2020. Two days later, he was detained and taken into police custody. On August 25, the magistrates of the Chișinău Court, Ciocana headquarters, replaced the preventive measure against Pînzari with house arrest.
According to prosecutors, in the spring of 2017, Damir allegedly used the influence he had due to the fact that he was Plahotniuc’s godson and instigated Cojocaru and Pînzari to hire him as a “senior undercover officer”. All three are now facing trial for abuse of office, embezzlement of foreign property, complicity in crossing the state border, disclosure of state secrets and forgery in public documents. None of them admit to committing the offenses, and Damir refused to testify before prosecutors.
The godson had to ‘document’ his godfather
Although the criminal case is being examined behind closed doors, ZdG was able to study several documents and presents, for the first time, details about the case. During the hearings, Alexandru Pînzari stated that it was his initiative to hire Dorin Damir to work in Section 1 K of the National Inspectorate of Investigations, Directorate 5; he does not remember, however, how he did it. He motivates that by enrolling Damir, who in 2017, according to prosecutors, “acted against police employees through influence, authority and power conferred by his social status as Vladimir Plahotniuc’s godson,” he sought to “document the alleged illegal actions of Vladimir Plahotniuc and government.”
Pînzari also told prosecutors that he did not remember Damir showing “any intention to join the General Police Inspectorate.” However, his statements are refuted by Valeriu Cojocaru, who specified that “Dorin Damir’s employment within the Ministry of Internal Affairs was his personal ambition, a desire to succeed in special services“.
Damir – senior “undercover” officer due to a “grammatical error”
The former head of the General Police Inspectorate told prosecutors that he did not know in what position Damir was appointed, although the employment order which he signed on June 15, 2017, indicated the position of “senior undercover officer“, a position that did not exist at that time in the General Police Inspectorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
In turn, Cojocaru reasons that the word “undercover” was included due to a grammatical error and that the term was taken from the previous Regulations.
Pînzari, proud of „Damir” project
During the hearings, Alexandru Pînzari told the prosecutors that he was “proud of this achievement”, and when asked whether the “Damir” project in Directorate 5 was short or long-term, he stated that, “Step by step, it had to bring him closer to people who break the law, to document their actions.”
Alexandru Pînzari pleads not guilty. He refused to answer the questions of the ZdG reporter, motivating that he signed a statement by which he undertakes not to disclose information from the criminal case.
“Once the criminal process was started, I signed a declaration on non-disclosure of information related to it. Therefore, I have no right to tell you about the circumstances of the case. One thing I want to tell you is that I am not guilty, just like my colleagues who are in detention. After the process is completed, I will have the legal right (I will make statements – ed. note). I want to outline all the circumstances on this case,” Alexandru Pînzari told us.
Employment done “in the service car, somewhere around the Ministry of Internal Affairs”
The documents in the case show that Damir’s fictitious employment in the police was carried out in five days, and in order to cover up the simulated procedures, Cojocaru initialed several documents, assigning them the status of “state secret”. Ana Railean, the head of the Supervision Service of Section 1 K of the Directorate 5 at the time, completed the file. She told prosecutors that she had received from Cojocaru the set of documents needed for employment. Because the file was incomplete, Railean met with Damir “in the car, somewhere around the Ministry of Internal Affairs,” to receive the missing documents and sign the employment contract.
A series of stimulating measures and distinctions for “officer” Damir
Damir’s fictitious appointment was on June 15, 2017, and he chose to “work” under the pseudonym “HOLRIO”. Two months later, at Cojocaru’s proposal and ahead of schedule, Pînzari granted Damir the special degree of “chief inspector”. On February 25, 2019, one day after the parliamentary elections, Cojocaru proposed to Pînzari to grant Damir the special degree of “police commissioner” and Plahotniuc’s godson received the degree the same day. Damir was also “stimulated” with a series of distinctions, cash prizes and material aid. In November 2017, he received the Cross “Police Merit Class II”, and in December 2018 he was decorated with the medal “For merits in combating crime class II”.
A new identity for “police comissioner” Damir
In June 2018, under the pretext of conducting “special investigative measures”, Damir was issued an identity card and passport in the name of Dumitru Busuioc for a period of one year. From Ana Railean’s testimonies, in order to draw up the codified documents, on June 3, the local elections day, the two went to the Public Services Agency, “because there was no one then and they considered that an appropriate moment.” Two months later, Damir used this identity for personal purposes, flying to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. Later, the Moldovan authorities issued Damir a driving license in the name of Dumitru Busuioc, but with his photo. Busuioc is the maiden surname of Dorin Damir’s wife.
On the eve of February 2019 parliamentary elections, under the pretext that he is involved “in a criminal case carrying out special investigative measures”, Plahotniuc’s godson obtains an identity card and driver’s license in the name of Dumitru Busuioc for a period of 10 years. According to the documents consulted by ZdG, in the two years of his fictitious activity, Damir held documents codified with a different name, even though, procedurally, they are issued for the period when a special measure is authorized.
The documents in the case reveal that Dorin Damir did not have the right of access to state secrets, but his “employers” presented and disclosed a series of secret documents and procedures related to special investigation activity.
Closed court hearings
Court hearings in the case of fictitious employment are held behind closed doors, and the press has access only to their opening. Dorin Damir and Valeriu Cojocaru, who were present at one of the meetings, refused to answer journalists’ questions. Their lawyers did not want to make statements either.
Iurie Tabarcea, one of Dorin Damir’s lawyers, claims that he cannot make statements on the case, invoking the signing of certain “non-disclosure statements”, but points out that his client pleads not guilty.
Reporter: Does your client admit that his employment was fictitious?
Iurie Tabarcea: Do you think that his employment was fictitious?
Reporter: It follows from the materials we have read.
Iurie Tabarcea: This is the version of the Prosecutor’s Office, nothing more. I have previously stated that he pleads not guilty. This is the answer to your question.
Damir’s work – one-sentence reports
For the two years of “activity” under cover, Damir has rightfully entered four informative reports into the Register of evidence of Directorate 5, two of them containing one single sentence. The documents were classified as ‘Confidential’, and were not signed by Damir. Ana Railean admitted that she had written the reports at the suggestion of Valeriu Cojocaru.
Although Pînzari claims that he hired Damir in the police in order to document Plahotniuc’s actions, the name of his godfather is not mentioned in the four reports that he allegedly wrote, the common subject of the reports is the Russian Federation.
The document, registered on July 10, 2017, reported that, according to “reliable sources” the Russian Federation planned to invade Odessa somewhere around September 2017 and that “The Russian Federation plans, in the near future, to bring to Transnistria approximately 300 Russian soldiers to train residents of Transnistria. If necessary, the Russian military, together with the residents of Transnistria will intervene in the battle that will take place on the territory of the Odessa region.”
In the report dated November 16, 2017 there is only one phrase – “I hereby notify you that I have found out that Andrei Neguta, the Ambassador of the Republic of Moldova in the Russian Federation, regularly meets Russian journalists and offers erroneous interviews about Moldova, thus denigrating the image of the Republic of Moldova.”
The report of December 27, 2017 also contains one sentence – “In the armed conflict in Donbas, the separatists fight on the side of the Russian Federation, a citizen of Moldova, named Mihai, pseudonym ‘Marcu’, holds the special rank of major and former employee of the Information and Security Service. Soldiers consider ‘Marku’ the best sniper of the Russian army. “
The fourth report writes about a meeting on economic and cultural issues, which was to take place in ATU Gagauzia and at which officials from St. Petersburg were to be present.
Paid with 170,000 lei for non-existent activity
Salary tables, incentive sheets, evaluation sheets, reports and other documents were drawn up in Damir’s name to create the illusion of a real job. Thus, although he did not show up for work, from June 2017 to September 2019, Damir received about 170,000 lei salary from the state. According to Ana Railean’s testimony, Damir’s salary was paid in the car, near the Ministry of Internal Affairs headquarters or in other “safe places”.
“The damage caused by these crimes is not only material; it also results from the fact that a state institution, such as the Police, was used to hide crimes and provide facilities for people close to Vladimir Plahotniuc – the right to benefit from another identity, the right to commit any deeds and later transpose them as a ‘legend’ or ‘mission’ of service,” reads the indictment prepared by prosecutors.
The dissolution of Direction 5
At the end of July 2019, Directorate 5 was abolished. Employees were then offered alternative jobs. However, in order to conceal fictitious employment, the pseudonyms of the persons were indicated in the draft orders of dismissal, reason for which Gheorghe Balan, then acting head of the General Police Inspectorate during the mandate of the Sandu Government, decided to initiate control over the activity of Section 1 K. He said to the prosecutors that, following the control, it was found that “the information presented in the reports of the employee under the pseudonym “HOLRIO” was of no interest, it was information found in the media and was not confidential, and the salary he was paid was exaggeratedly large in relation to the activity he performed.” The check showed that, in addition to Damir, Directorate 5 fictitiously employed other six – eight persons.
Asked by ZdG, Gheorghe Balan refused to make statements on the case, arguing that it would jeopardize the investigation. “I cannot make any public statements, until my statements made during the criminal investigation have been included in the list of the prosecution and I will be summoned before the court to testify. In order not to question the legality of the evidence, I will refrain from making statements,” Gheorghe Balan told us.
They risk up to 12 years in prison
“At this stage, the examination is at the preliminary hearing. We are going to discuss issues related to the preliminary hearing and then move on to the judicial investigation,” said Roman Rusu, the prosecutor who presents the state accusation in court in this case.
According to the law, if found guilty, Dorin Damir, Valeriu Cojocaru and Alexandru Pînzari risk sentences ranging from 2 to 12 years in prison, with deprivation of the right to hold certain positions.
Ion Cojocaru, Border Police inspector, was detained in this case as well. On August 25, he was released from detention by prosecutor’s ordinance, on the grounds that both he and his relatives were intimidated by other defendants and detainees from Penitentiary 13. Ion Cojocaru collaborates with prosecutors and so does Ana Railean.
Who is Dorin Damir
Dorin Damir, 49 years old, is president of the Fighting & Entertainment Association (FEA) and of the Union of Contact Sports Federation of Moldova (UFSC). At the Police Academy, he was colleague with Alexandru Pînzari, Valeriu Cojocaru, and Alexandru Jizdan, former Minister of Internal Affairs. In 1997-2002, he worked in the Department for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In February 1998, the Criminal College of the Court of Appeal sentenced him to five years in prison, because in the years 1995-1996 he allegedly beat several persons who did not repay their debts. Two months later, he was acquitted by the Criminal College of the Supreme Court of Justice.
Damir is the godson of the fugitive Vladimir Plahotniuc, former leader of the Democratic Party of Moldova, for whom he would have trained fighters during the period when he controlled the country. Damir is also known as the mediator in the actions and decisions of the judiciary with his godfather.