posted at 18:50
Author Name: Anatoly Golia
Moldova votes in key poll at crossroads of Europe and Russia
Opinion polls showed the political parties aiming for membership in the European Union were roughly neck-and-neck with those that back joining Russia in a customs union. Moscow does not want to part ways with Moldova, a former Soviet satellite where it has troops stationed in the Russian-speaking breakaway region of Transdniestr, while the EU is keen for Moldova to be a success story for its soft power. Parties must win at least six percent of the vote to get a seat. "I am sure that Romania and Moldova will share a space of democracy and prosperity inside the European Union," said Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, an ethnic German recently elected on an anti-corruption ticket. The opposition Communist party and Party of Socialists want closer links to Russia and its ex-Soviet allies and to tear up the EU agreement. Opinion polls show some 40 percent of Moldovans back pro-European parties, while around the same percentage support opposition pro-Russian parties. "If the pro-European parties win, Moldova's course towards European integration could become irreversible. If Moldova turns back towards the customs union it risks remaining forever in Russia's sphere of influence." Controversially, a pro-Russian party, Patria or Motherland, was barred from the election three days before the polls over alleged illegal financing from abroad. Its leader, a Russian businessman, fled to Russia.

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