Facebook ran ads in Moldova for an oligarch sanctioned by the U.S.

Facebook allowed an exiled Moldovan oligarch with ties to the Kremlin to run ads calling for protests and uprisings against the pro-Western government, even though he and his political party were on U.S. sanctions lists, the Associated Press reported.

The ads featuring politician and convicted fraudster Ilan Shor were ultimately removed by Facebook but not before they were seen millions of times in Moldova, a former Soviet republic  of about 2.6 million located between Romania and Ukraine.

The paid posts sought to fuel anger over soaring inflation and rising fuel prices, and targeted the government of pro-Western President Maia Sandu, who earlier this week exposed what she said was a Russian plot to overthrow her  government.

“Destabilization attempts are a reality and for our institutions, they represent a real challenge,” President Sandu said Thursday as she swore in a new government led by pro-Western Prime Minister Dorin Recean, her former defense and security adviser. “

The ads reveal how Russia and its allies have exploited social media platforms to spread propaganda and disinformation in a bid to  undermine governments in Moldova and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, the AP reported.

The ads which weren’t money makers for Meta were effective.

One ad, which ran on Facebook for just two days in October was seen more than a million times in Moldova. In the post, which cost Shor’s party less than $100 to upload, the oligarch accuses Sandu’s government of corruption and kleptocracy.

“You and I will have to pull them out of their offices by the ears and throw them out of our country like evil spirits,” Shor says in the post.

Shor, 35, is an Israeli-born Moldovan oligarch who leads the populist, Russia-friendly Shor Party. He is currently living in exile in Israel and is implicated in a $1 billion theft from Moldovan banks in 2014.

He is accused of bribery to secure his position as chair of a Moldovan bank, and was named in October on a US Treasury Department sanctions list as working for Russian interests.


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