A bitter election battle between rival parties favouring the EU and Russia is stoking tension in Moldova, amid echoes of the political conflict that spiralled into war in neighbouring Ukraine. Prosecutors are questioning several people suspected of planning violent unrest after this Sunday’s parliamentary ballot, and a popular pro-Russian party has been banned on the eve of the vote for allegedly receiving illegal funding from abroad. Analysts say the exclusion of the Patria party, which is led by a political novice who made his fortune as a businessman in Russia, could either help or hinder pro-EU parties in the election, and could also inspire protests among Patria’s supporters. Party leader Renato Usatii – who denies breaching funding rules and rejects critics’ claims that he is a Kremlin agent – opposes Moldova’s push for greater integration with the EU rather than with Russia. Like Ukraine and Georgia, Moldova signed a far-reaching association agreement with the EU in June and also secured visa-free travel to the bloc, despite complaints, warnings and the imposition of an embargo on its wine and food by Russia.
The Communist Party contender for the key job of mayor of the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, says he will not recognize his defeat to a pro-Western candidate in the June 19 runoff election and will fight against it using “all legal means,” RFE/RL’s Moldovan Service reports.
According to preliminary results the liberal incumbent, Dorin Chirtoaca, won the race with 50.6 percent of the vote, against 49.4 percent for his Communist Party challenger Igor Dodon. But Dodon today said the difference was so narrow and the “frauds” so numerous that he and his party had no choice but to contest the result.
Communist MPs and their supporters rallied outside parliament in Chisinau on Thursday over alleged irregularities in elections which gave a boost to the country’s ruling pro-European Union coalition.
Protesters chanted: “Down with the Central Election Commission” and “Down with the Alliance,” referring to the governing three-party Alliance for European Integration (AEI).
The election commission says that the AEI won about 57 per cent of the vote in local councils last Sunday, while the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) took nearly a third of the vote – more than any other single party.
The Moldovan Election Commission has announced complete preliminary results of the local elections on June 5 that were seen as a crucial test of the liberal ruling coalition. The results indicate that the country remains nearly evenly divided between the three-party Alliance for European Integration (AEI) and the Communist Party. Perhaps the closest contest and…