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Posts tagged ‘Dacia Land of Moldova’

Moldova declares Russian deputy premier persona non grata

August 02, 2017

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Moldova has declared a Russian deputy prime minister persona non grata, following remarks he made after an aborted visit to the ex-Soviet republic. Wednesday’s statement from Moldova’s Foreign Ministry came after Dmitry Rogozin abandoned a trip to the country Friday after his plane was barred from entering Romanian and Hungarian airspace. Both countries are EU members.

Rogozin is one of the most senior Russian officials to be slapped with an EU visa ban in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Rogozin later told Rossiya 24 TV station that Russia would adopt “special sanctions” against Moldovan and other officials who had obstructed his visit.

The ministry summoned Russian Ambassador Farit Muhametshin on Wednesday and said “Moldova wants to build with Russia bilateral relations on the basis of mutual respect.”

Moldova election: Pro-Russia politician in clear win

November 14, 2016

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — A pro-Russian politician has secured a clear win in a presidential race that many Moldovans hope will rekindle ties with Moscow, final results showed Monday. In the full count, Igor Dodon won 52.2 percent of the vote. Maia Sandu, who ran on an anti-corruption ticket, had 47.8 percent.

Later Monday, up to 1,000 mostly young Moldovans marched to the offices of the Central Election Committee in Chisinau shouting “Down with the Mafia!” Anger also flared on Sunday after Moldovans voting in Britain, Ireland, France, Italy and elsewhere lined up for hours and ballot papers ran out. Sandu said the elections had been badly organized.

Dodon’s victory was celebrated with fireworks early Monday in the semi-autonomous Gagauzia region, home of many ethnic Russians. The Socialists’ Party leader promised to be a president to all Moldovans and said he seeks good relations with the nation’s neighbors, Romania and Ukraine.

Moldova’s president represents the country abroad, sets foreign policy and appoints judges, but needs parliamentary approval for major decisions. However, the office was expected to gain authority because Dodon was the first president in 20 years to be directly elected rather than being chosen by Parliament.

The 41-year-old Dodon, who painted himself as a traditional Moldovan with conservative values, tapped into popular anger over the approximately $1 billion that went missing from Moldovan banks before the 2014 parliamentary elections.

Dodon says he will move to rescind a law which obliges taxpayers to reimburse the $1 billion, but Parliament would have to agree. He hasn’t called for a thorough investigation or to find those responsible for the heist.

He wants to restore ties with Russia, which placed a trade embargo on Moldovan wine, fruit and vegetables in 2014 after Moldova signed an association agreement with the European Union. However, the president cannot cancel the association agreement, which was ratified by Parliament.

“The new president will continue to pursue an active pro-Russia policy,” said Nicolae Reutoi, senior analyst at Alaco, a London-based intelligence consultancy. “However, in practice, he will have to work in tandem with the ruling coalition, which declares itself pro-European.”

Another analyst called Dodon “an authoritarian populist.” “He promised everything to everyone,” said Dan Brett, a commentator on Moldova and an associate professor at the Open University. Brett said the result suited the pro-European government in power since 2009 because “he is cut from the same cloth as them and they share the same self-interests.”

Sandu, a former education minister who heads the Action and Solidarity Party, said the former Soviet republic would have a more prosperous future in the EU. Sandu needed a high turnout to hope to win, but the final turnout of 53.3 percent was less than she had hoped.

Alison Mutler in Bucharest, Romania contributed to this report.

Pro-Russia candidate favorite in Moldova presidential runoff

November 13, 2016

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Moldovans are voting in a presidential election Sunday in which the favorite has promised to restore ties with Russia that cooled after the former Soviet republic signed a trade deal with the European Union.

Igor Dodon, a pro-Moscow figure, has tapped into popular anger with corruption under the pro-European government that came to power in 2009, particularly over about $1 billion that went missing from Moldovan banks before 2014 parliamentary elections.

“I voted for the future of the country. I am totally convinced that Moldova has a future. It will be independent, united and sovereign,” said Dodon, who heads the opposition Socialists’ Party after voting, predicting an easy win.

Dodon says he wants to federalize Moldova to include the breakaway region of Trans-Dniester where more than 1,000 Russian troops are stationed, and his comments about a “united” Moldova alluded to that.

Rival Maia Sandu, an ex-World Bank economist, who ran on an anti-corruption ticket, urged Moldovans to get out and vote. She needs a high turnout to stand a chance of winning. At midday, about 22 percent of the electorate had voted — the same as in the first round.

“If the vote is correct, we will win…. it is important to be vigilant and not let them steal the vote,” she said. The former education minister, who heads the Action and Solidarity Party, says the former Soviet republic will have a more prosperous future in the EU.

Dodon, who nearly won the election in the first round two weeks ago and leads in recent polls, has promised to restore friendly relations with Moscow. He has also recently hedged his bets, saying he also seeks good relations with Moldova’s neighbors, Romania and Ukraine.

He has been criticized in Ukraine for saying Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, is Russian territory. Russia punished agricultural Moldova with a trade embargo on wine, fruit and vegetables after it signed a trade association deal with the EU in 2014.

Russia and the West seek greater influence over the strategically-placed, but impoverished agricultural country of 3.5 million. Former Romanian President Traian Basescu, who obtained Moldovan citizenship this month, voted at the Moldovan Embassy in Bucharest.

“I want European values in this state,” he said.

Alison Mutler in Bucharest, Romania, contributed to this report.

Pro-Russian candidate faces anti-graft rival in Moldova vote

November 11, 2016

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Moldovans directly elect their president on Sunday for the first time in 20 years. Both candidates in the presidential runoff are economists in their 40s, but the similarities end there. Here’s a look at them and the issues:

WHERE IN THE WORLD?

Moldova is a landlocked, agricultural nation of 3.5 million, bordering Ukraine and European Union member Romania. In politics, there’s widespread public anger over high-level official corruption in one of Europe’s poorest states — particularly about $1 billion that was looted from Moldovan banks just before the 2014 election. More than 30 mainly junior officials are being investigated over the heist but many say the probe is too slow and hasn’t targeted senior figures.

WHICH WAY TO GO?

Igor Dodon, the favorite in the presidential race, wants the ex-Soviet republic to return to the Russian orbit, while rival Maia Sandu believes the country would secure a more prosperous, predictable future in Europe.

WHAT IS DODON’S PLAN?

Dodon is trying to channel Donald Trump’s U.S. victory into Moldova’s runoff. The 41-year-old who paints himself as a traditional family man is harnessing anger with the pro-European government that has been in office since 2009. Socialist Dodon plans to cozy up to Russia, which has punished Moldova with a trade ban on Moldovan wine, fruit and vegetables for signing an association agreement with the EU.

Dodon says Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, is Russian territory, a comment that didn’t go down well in Ukraine. But he’s hedged his bets recently, saying he also seeks good relations with the EU and Ukraine.

Dodon is backed by the pro-Moscow branch of the Moldovan Orthodox Church. Despite Trump’s three marriages and two divorces, Dodon calls Trump “a supporter of Christian values.”

WHAT DOES SANDU WANT?

Ex-World Bank economist Sandu is running on an anti-corruption ticket, which resonates with many after $1 billion bank heist. Supported by young voters and Moldovans working in Western Europe, Sandu, 44, has been criticized by an Orthodox cleric for being unmarried and childless.

Sandu is known for her uncompromising approach to corruption, which cost her the nomination to be prime minister in July 2015. She was education minister from 2012 to 2015, winning praise for reforms, such as updating textbooks and introducing cameras into exam rooms to stamp out rampant cheating.

Sandu says a crackdown on graft will lead to improved living standards, decent wages and pensions above subsistence level.

HIGH TURNOUT HELPS WHO?

Sandu’s best chance of a victory is a high voter turnout. Some 800,000 Moldovans work abroad and send remittances back home. They can vote if they go to their local embassies or other special voting stations.

WHAT DOES THE PRESIDENT DO?

The Moldovan president represents the country abroad, sets foreign policy and appoints judges, but needs parliamentary approval for major decisions. The change in the way the president is being elected, however, is expected to bring the post more authority.

Alison Mutler in Bucharest, Romania contributed to this report.

Moldovan presidential election goes to runoff

October 31, 2016

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Moldova’s presidential election will go to a runoff after a pro-Russian candidate narrowly missed winning a majority of votes. With almost all ballots counted early Monday, Igor Dodon won 48.26 percent while pro-European rival Maia Sandu scored 38.42 percent, the top finishers among the nine candidates.

With no one securing a majority, a second round of voting will be held on Nov. 13 to decide between Dodon and Sandu. The election on Sunday was the first presidential election by direct vote in 20 years in this impoverished former Soviet republic.

Moldovans, angry about high-level corruption, were divided about whether to seek closer integration into Europe or rekindle ties with Moscow. Dodon, who favors closer ties with Moscow, has pledged to “restore broad and friendly ties with Russia.”

The former Communist Party member tapped into dissatisfaction with the pro-European government that came to power in 2009. Sandu, an ex-World Bank economist and a pro-European figure, has vowed to be tough with endemic corruption. She earned praise for reforms she carried out when she was education minister.

Both the European Union together with the U.S. and Russia seek to have more influence over Moldova, a landlocked nation of 3.5 million between EU member Romania and Ukraine.

Moldovans electing president for 1st time in 20 years

October 30, 2016

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Moldovans began voting Sunday for a president in an election that could move the former Soviet republic closer to Europe or push it back into Russia’s orbit. It is the first time in 20 years citizens have directly voted for their president in a country where many are angry about high-level corruption.

Both the European Union together with the U.S. and Russia seek to have more influence over the impoverished agricultural landlocked nation of 3.5 million, located between EU member Romania and Ukraine.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. and close at 9 p.m., with first results expected two hours later. After two hours of voting, some 5 percent of the electorate had cast ballots. The favorite of the nine candidates running for the post is Igor Dodon, a pro-Moscow figure who heads the Socialists’ Party and who has tapped into widespread dissatisfaction with the pro-European government.

Ex-World Bank economist Maia Sandu is the preferred option for those who want Moldova to join the European mainstream. If no candidate wins a majority, there will be a runoff on Nov. 13. The president appoints judges and sets out foreign policy but other major decisions need the approval of Parliament. The popular election, however, could bring the post more influence and authority.

Moldova was thrown into political turmoil in 2014 with the disappearance of more than $1 billion from the banking system. Weeks of street protests followed and six prime ministers took office in one year.

Since then, Parliament has passed anti-corruption laws, forcing public officials to disclose their assets and making the misuse of EU funds a criminal offense.

Romanians march to demand reunification with Moldova

October 22, 2016

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — More than 2,000 people marched through the Romanian capital Saturday demanding the country’s reunification with neighboring Moldova. Demonstrators waved the virtually identical Romanian and Moldovan flags as they filed down the city’s main streets. They shouted “Bassarabia is part of Romania,” using the historical name for Moldova.

Some briefly scuffled with police. A photographer for The Associated Press saw police detain two people after fights broke out. Riot police said five were briefly detained and fined. Organizer George Simion said protesters wanted political parties running in Romania’s December parliamentary elections to make reunification “a national project,” and take steps to integrate the neighbors, such as developing energy links and a joint currency.

Some protesters remained in a central square Saturday evening after the march ended. Moldova was part of Romania until 1940, when it was annexed to the Soviet Union, and declared independence in 1991.

Some four-fifths of Moldovans, an Eastern European country of 4 million, are of Romanian descent. Romanian is the official language in Moldova, while Russian is widely used. However, the reunification cause does not have much support in either Romania or Moldova.

Moldova PM: reforms must start with the government

April 28, 2016

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Moldova’s prime minister says badly needed reforms in the impoverished country must start with the government. Premier Pavel Filip, who became the sixth prime minister of this impoverished former Soviet republic in January, told The Associated Press that he believes “reforms should start with us who are proposing reforms.”

In a telephone interview Wednesday, he said he plans to slash the number of ministries by almost half to make government more efficient, and he believes private investment will come “when they have the certainty that corruption doesn’t exist, there are no bureaucratic barriers, and there are no longer abusive controls by the state.”

His aim is “a prosperous and stable Moldova in the European Union,” he said — a vision that currently seems remote, with Moldova forced to borrow from commercial banks to cover state pensions and salaries.

The country is so poor that it needed emergency food aid from neighbor Romania this winter. A key aspect of his reforms is restoring Moldova’s credibility. Filip vowed to find and prosecute those who stole more than $1 billion from three Moldovan banks in November 2014, sparking months of protests and political instability.

U.S. investigative company Kroll, hired to probe the loss which represented one-eighth of Moldova’s gross domestic product, will present a plan for recouping the losses at the end of May. Located between Ukraine and Romania, Moldova has traditionally been in Russia’s orbit. Moscow opposed Moldova signing an association agreement with the EU in 2014, and placed an embargo on Moldovan fruit and wines.

Pavel says Russia has nothing to lose from Moldova moving closer to the European mainstream. “What we want in our relationship with Russia is reciprocal respect and predictability,” he said. “Moldova is free to choose (its path) and Russia should see this as an opportunity.”

15,000 protest in Moldova to demand an early election

January 24, 2016

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — More than 15,000 people held an anti-government protest Sunday in the Moldovan capital to demand an early election in the impoverished Eastern European nation.

Protesters in Chisinau shouted “We want the country back!” and “Unity, citizens!” in Romanian and Russian and blocked a main road out of the capital as temperatures fell to -10 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit). The rally was organized by two pro-Russian parties and the civic group Dignity and Truth.

Protesters earlier marched toward the Constitutional Court and the leader of the Socialists’ Party, Igor Dodon, urged them to block one of the main entrances to the city of one million. Dignity and Truth leader Andrei Nastase called on the government to announce by Jan. 28 that it would hold an early election or face acts of civil disobedience.

The demonstrators are angry about falling living standards that have left the average monthly salary is just 220 euros ($240). They say pro-European parties, which have been in power since 2009, have failed to carry out reforms and want Parliament dissolved and an early election held. They are also calling for a full inquiry into the disappearance of up to $1.5 billion from three banks in Moldova prior to the country’s parliamentary election in 2014.

Sunday’s protest came after demonstrators stormed Parliament last week as lawmakers approved a new pro-European government. Thousands held anti-government demonstrations for three straight days. New Prime Minister Pavel Filip will visit Bucharest on Jan. 26, his office said Sunday. Romania is Moldova’s closest ally.

Unrest for 2nd day: 7,000 hold anti-govt protest in Moldova

January 21, 2016

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — About 7,000 people held an anti-government protest Thursday in the Moldovan capital, a day after demonstrators stormed the legislature after it approved a new pro-European government.

Protesters gathered outside government offices and Parliament in Chisinau to protest Prime Minister Pavel Filip, the former technology minister and former candy factory manager, who presented his Cabinet of politicians and specialists to President Nicolae Timofti late Wednesday.

Scuffles broke out Wednesday between police and the protesters who stormed the Parliament and 15 people were injured, including nine police officers. On Thursday, protesters blocked a main artery in the capital as they staged a peaceful protest. Demonstrators shouted “Down with the government! We are the people!” and “Early elections!”

The vote by Parliament on Wednesday ended a three-month standoff between Timofti and Parliament, which the president would have dissolved had it not approved a new government by Jan. 29. The previous government was dismissed in late October over corruption allegations.

Some demonstrators who support opposition political parties want closer links to Russia. Others are demanding a crackdown on corruption and a thorough investigation into the $1.5 billion went missing from three banks prior to the November 2014 parliamentary election.

Moldova has been mired in political instability since 2014. Last year, Moldova had five prime ministers and there were weeks of protests about the missing money. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Thursday urged Moldova’s government to undertake reforms.

Alison Mutler in Bucharest, Romania contributed to this report.

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