CHISINAU (Reuters) – The assembly in a pro-Russian region of Moldova on Tuesday backed the choice of a local leader with the aim of improving ties with Moscow, a move that sparked a clash with the country’s pro-European government.
Moldova, a small poor state bordering Ukraine and Romania, denounced Russia’s invasion and accused Moscow of trying to destabilize the administration of President Maia Sandu.
The Gagauzia region in southern Moldova elected a new “bashkan,” or leader, last weekend in a race that included only pro-Russian candidates. The assembly endorsed that result.
But Moldova’s prime minister and other officials have suggested that central authorities will try to overturn the results over widespread irregularities.
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Prime Minister Dorin Recean said the election results were uncertain.
“Police and prosecutors have made public the irregularities observed in the course of the vote,” he told Moldova’s Pro TV.
Yevgeniya Gutul, the new Bashkan, wants “more friendship” with Moscow. She represents the Sor Party, which for months has organized protests demanding Sandu’s resignation.
More than 30 years of independence, Moldova has had to live with a pro-Russian breakaway state of Transdniestria in the east and recurring discontent in Gagauzia, dominated by ethnic Turks who adhere to the Russian Orthodox Church and have long backed the parties. pro-russians
When the Gagauzia assembly unanimously approved the election result, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the building chanting “Down with the dictatorship, down with Maia Sandu!”
Moldova’s Constitutional Court is expected to issue a ruling on Wednesday banning the Sor party.
Its leader, business tycoon Ilan Sor, had his sentence increased in absentia last month to 15 years in prison in connection with the theft of $1 billion from Moldovan banks in 2014-2015, the equivalent of one-eighth of annual national production. Sister lives in Israel.
(Written by Ron Popeski, Editing by David Ljunggren and Bill Berkrot)
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