The Moscow-affiliated Moldovan Orthodox Church has called on the country's leadership to ensure that a potential future anti-coronavirus vaccine will not be made compulsory, claiming conspiracy by a "world anti-Christ system" that will allegedly insert microchips into humans to control them via 5G technology.
The Church made the accusations in a May 19 religious statement to President Igor Dodon, Parliament Speaker Zinaida Greceanni, and Prime Minister Ion Chicu.
Europe and the United States have seen a growing wave of protests by conspiracy theorists, extremists, and anti-vaxxers against coronavirus restrictions, many of them promoted via social media.
Theories about the allegedly negative effects of 5G technology have been aggressively pushed on social media during the pandemic by conservative circles in Europe and the United States, aided by Russian media affiliated to the Kremlin.
Some of the theories promoting false claims that billionaire U.S. philanthropist Bill Gates is the alleged mastermind behind the pandemic have been gaining traction online since the beginning of the outbreak, with experts warning they could hamper efforts to curb the virus.
Such accusations are also present in the Moldovan church's statement, which says that "Bill Gates is considered the man responsible for the creation of a technology allowing people to be microchipped through a vaccine that would insert in their bodies nanoparticles that interact with 5G waves and allow people to be remotely controlled."
“Public opinion in many European states is protesting against mandatory vaccines, in particular against an anti-COVID-19 vaccine, because they consider them a means through which the global anti-Christ system wishes to introduce microchips into people’s bodies with whose help they can control them, through 5G technology,” the statement said.
The statement backs the anti-Gates theories, stating that it is "considered" that 5G technology, in combination with vaccines, has been behind the coronavirus outbreak. It does not clarify, however, who considers Gates responsible.
Gates has become the latest in a series of online targets after pledging $250 million to efforts to fight the outbreak.
Hungarian-American billionaire and philanthropist George Soros has also been blamed for creating the virus, which has infected almost 5 million people and killed more than 323,000 around the world.
The World Health Organization has stepped up efforts to fight what it called an "infodemic" -- misinformation fanned by panic and confusion about the coronavirus.
Moldova, a former Soviet republic sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, is one of Europe's poorest countries. An estimated 95 percent of its 4.5-million population is Christian Orthodox.
The Moldovan Orthodox Church is autonomous but operates under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Romanian Orthodox Church's Metropolis of Bessarabia is the country's other major church.