Moldovan region headed for clash with pro-European government

The pro-Russian legislature in Moldova approved the election of a local leader who wants to strengthen ties with Moscow, setting up a conflict with the nation’s pro-European administration.

Moldova, a tiny, impoverished nation bordering Romania and Ukraine, has blasted Russia’s incursion and charged Moscow with attempting to topple President Maia Sandu’s government.

Gagauzia, a semi-autonomous province in southern Moldova, elected a new “bashkan” (leader) this weekend in a race that was exclusively pro-Russian. The assembly approved of that outcome.

However, the prime minister of Moldova and other top officials have hinted that the results may be challenged by the government at the national level due to numerous irregularities.

The outcome of the election, according to Prime Minister Dorin Recean, was unpredictable.

He told Moldova’s Pro TV, “The police and prosecutors have made irregularities during the voting public.”

The new bashkan, Yevgeniya Gutsul, desires “further friendship” with Moscow. She is a representative of the Shor Party, which has organized demonstrations calling for Sandu’s resignation for months. With 52% of the vote counted, she was chosen as the Gagauzia region’s new leader.

Last month, Sandu claimed that Russia was interfering in Moldovan politics and that several of the candidates in the Gagauzia race were Russian spies. The claim of intervention was rejected by Moscow.

“Our party is pro-Russian. We aim to strengthen our friendship with the Russian Federation and other nations.”

Yevgeniya Gutsul, Gagauzia bashkan

She declared that she wished to establish a Gagauz liaison office in Moscow and added, “We don’t want any conflicts.”

As the Gagauzia assembly unanimously approved the election outcome, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the building shouting “Down with Dictatorship, down with Maia Sandu!”

On Wednesday, the Constitutional Court of Moldova is anticipated to rule on whether to ban the Shor party.

Its head, business tycoon Ilan Shor, had his sentence doubled in absentia to 15 years in prison last month for the theft of $1 billion from Moldovan banks in 2014-2015, which is equal to one-eighth of the country’s yearly output. On account of his connections to Moscow, Shor was subject to penalties last year by the US.

Photo: Ilan Shor Party/Facebook

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