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Parliament adopted bill to join EU sanctions regime against Russia.
European Commission 8 Nov released report on enlargement that recommended commencement of membership talks with Moldova. Parliament 24 Nov passed bill to join EU sanctions regime against Russia; Moscow same day denounced move as “another hostile step” and vowed retaliation. Govt 28 Nov stripped pro-Russia politician Alexandr Kalinin of citizenship for “recruitment into the armed forces of a foreign state”.
Chişinău labelled Russia “security threat” for first time.
President Sandu 11 Oct announced that Moldova’s new national security strategy refers to Russia as threat to its security for first time ever; document, which still needs parliamentary approval, said “Russian Federation and its proxies in the Republic of Moldova represent the most dangerous and persistent source of threat which, if not countered, can have severe effects on the statehood, democracy and prosperity of the country”. Meanwhile, authorities 30 Oct announced access to TASS website and other prominent Russian media outlets would be blocked amid upcoming local elections in Nov. Actions came amid growing concern about Russian destabilisation efforts in Moldova.
Murder of breakaway Transnistria’s most prominent opposition politician fuelled speculation, and Chişinău announced plans to expel 45 Russian diplomatic staff.
Prominent opposition politician in breakaway Transnistria region found dead. Leader of opposition Communist party Oleg Khorzhan was found dead 16 July at his home in de facto capital, Tiraspol. De facto authorities 17 July said they believed he was killed during a robbery as safe inside house was emptied, but activists and opposition politicians claimed his death was politically motivated – Khorzhan had been critical of Transnistria’s administration and served 4.5-year prison sentence for “inciting civil strife”. Moldovan national police 17 July opened investigation, saying it was taking “all appropriate investigative measures regarding the crime of murder”; Moldova’s Bureau for Reintegration, charged with govt policy on Transnistria, same day called on Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to assist with investigation. Transnistria’s de facto interior ministry 24 July announced suspect in murder case, Andrei Duminica, who denied involvement.
Authorities announced expulsion of 45 Russian diplomatic staff. Amid growing fears of Russian destabilisation efforts in Moldova, Chişinău 26 July announced it will expel 45 Russian diplomats and embassy staff by 15 Aug due to “ongoing tensions and unfriendly actions”. Announcement followed media report published 24 July claiming spying technology had been installed on Russian embassy rooftop. Moscow 26 July said move “would not go unanswered”.
Court dissolved opposition Shor Party, which spearheaded months of anti-govt protests.
Constitutional Court of Moldova 19 June declared “unconstitutional” opposition Shor Party, which pro-EU govt had accused of illegal funding and destabilising activities in favour of, and with support of, Russia. Court ruled party “was acting contrary to the principles of the rule of law and posed a threat to the sovereignty and independence of the country”. Party’s exiled leader Ilan Shor 26 June announced new political bloc to replace Shor.
Authorities barred Russian delegation from entering Moldova, and EU launched civilian mission to help Chișinău counter foreign interference.
Amid mounting concern about Russian destabilisation efforts in Moldova, Russian delegation led by Tatarstan region’s governor Rustam Minnikhanov 17 April arrived in capital Chișinău to attend forum in autonomous Gagauzia region ahead of local polls on 30 April. Authorities, however, prevented him from disembarking aircraft, accusing delegation of seeking to bolster support for pro-Russian candidate. Minnikhanov same day claimed authorities had designated him persona non grata; border police rejected claim while urging Russian officials to “refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of our country”. Russian foreign ministry that evening condemned move. Two days later, foreign ministry 19 April summoned Russian Ambassador Oleg Vasnetsov, informing him of decision to expel Russian Embassy employee for “inappropriate behaviour” at airport after authorities barred Minnikhanov’s entry; Vasnetsov same day condemned “unfriendly moves against our country”. PM Recean 27 April compiled “blacklist” of Russians banned from entering Moldova, including Russian President Putin. Meanwhile, EU 24 April approved launch of new civilian mission to help Moldova “protect its security, territorial integrity and sovereignty” amid “continued Russian attempts to destabilise” country.
Authorities accused Russian-backed actors of plot to incite unrest during anti-govt protest; leadership in Transnistria accused Ukraine of planning terrorist attack.
Thousands participated in opposition-led protest. Some 4,500 anti-govt protesters 12 March gathered in capital Chișinău, organised by populist opposition Sor Party, to denounce rising cost of living; sporadic, small-scale clashes broke out and police detained over 50 people on public order violations. Head of police Viorel Cernauteanu same day said they had foiled plot devised by Russian-backed actors to cause mass unrest at protest and detained seven people. Accusations came amid mounting concern about Russian destabilisation efforts in Moldova; notably, U.S. 10 March said Russia “is pursuing options to weaken the Moldovan government probably with the eventual goal of seeing a more Russian-friendly administration in the capital”.
Authorities in Transnistria accused Ukraine of plotting terrorist attack. Security services in breakaway region of Transnistria 9 March claimed they had thwarted Ukrainian plot to kill local officials and civilians in main town of Tiraspol; Ukraine same day dismissed allegations as “a provocation orchestrated by the Kremlin”. Russian FM Sergei Lavrov 28 March accused Ukraine of preparing to “intervene in Transnistria, including with the use of force”.
Govt resigned, and tensions with Russia escalated over alleged coup attempt, violation of Moldova’s airspace and Russian accusations of provocation in Transnistria.
Govt resigned over economic pressures and war in Ukraine. Pro-European govt 10 Feb resigned after turbulent 18 months in power marked by economic turmoil and spillover of Russia’s war in Ukraine. President Maia Sandu same day nominated pro-European National Security Adviser Dorin Recean to lead new govt, who vowed to advance on European Union integration and said govt should continue efforts for withdrawal of Russian troops from separatist Transnistria region; parliament 16 Feb approved nomination.
Allegations of Russian destabilisation efforts in Moldova mounted. Govt’s resignation announcement came amid escalation of tensions with Russia, on the rise for months over latter’s suspected role in anti-govt protests and threats to gas supplies in former Soviet republic. Ukrainian President Zelenksyy 9 Feb warned of Russian plan to “destroy” Moldova; Sandu 13 Feb provided further details of alleged plan to topple govt using Russian and Belarusian operatives. Zelenskyy 20 Feb accused Moscow of plans to seize airport in capital Chișinău for transport of soldiers and equipment to Ukraine. Further aggravating tensions, defence ministry 10 Feb announced Russian missile headed for Ukraine had violated Moldova’s airspace, prompting FM Popescu to summon Russian ambassador, Oleg Vasnetsov. Meanwhile, several thousand protesters in Chișinău 19 Feb took part in anti-govt rally organised by opposition Shor party, which has strong ties with Russia and is under investigation for illegal financing; more anti-govt protests took place 28 Feb.
Tensions over Transnistria escalated. Kremlin 20 Feb said “anti-Russian hysteria” had worsened bilateral relations and urged Moldovan authorities to be “very, very careful” regarding calls to demilitarise Transnistria. Russian President Putin next day revoked 2012 decree which, among many other things, underpins Moldova’s sovereignty in resolving future of Transnistria. Russia 23 Feb warned Kyiv could carry out “armed provocation” in Transnistria, next day said it would view any actions that threatened Russian peacekeepers in Transnistria as “an attack on the Russian Federation”. Kremlin 27 Feb accused Ukraine and other European countries of “provoking” situation in Transnistria.
Amid ongoing opposition-led protests, U.S. imposed sanctions targeting Russian “influence operations”; tensions ran high with Russia amid airspace violation and gas supply worries.
Opposition-led protests prompted U.S. sanctions targeting Kremlin. Protests that began in Sept denouncing high inflation and fuel prices and demanding resignation of President Maia Sandu and pro-EU govt continued throughout month in capital Chisinau. Notably, estimated 7,000 protesters 23 Oct marched through capital and created new tent camp, removed 10 Oct by police. Members of opposition Shor Party, who maintain links to Russia, have been main organisers behind demonstrations, hinting at Kremlin’s role in protests to destabilise country. Amid growing concerns, U.S. 26 Oct imposed sanctions on over 20 individuals and entities to counter Russia’s “persistent malign influence campaigns and systemic corruption in Moldova”.
Authorities accused Moscow of violating country’s airspace. Deputy PM Nicu Popescu 10 Oct announced that three missiles launched on Ukraine from Russian ships in Black Sea crossed Moldova’s airspace; Russia offered no official explanation for incident. Meanwhile, govt 7 Oct extended state of emergency imposed in Feb following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by 60 days.
Concerns grew over Russian gas supplies. Amid soaring gas prices in wake of Ukraine war, Russian gas supplier Gazprom – which Moldova relies almost entirely on for gas – 4 Oct threatened to cut gas supplies if country failed to comply with its payment obligations by 20 Oct; one lawmaker said move was “another element of soft blackmailing Moldova for its European course”. Govt 20 Oct said Gazprom refused to tell Chisinau how much gas it would provide in Nov, citing supply issues due to Ukraine, further straining relations.
As thousands of protesters called for president’s resignation, speculation mounted over possible Russian involvement.Opposition-led protests against escalatory prices amid Ukraine war spread. Thousands of protesters 9, 18 and 25 Sept took to streets denouncing high inflation and soaring fuel prices in wake of Ukraine war; also demanded resignation of President Maia Sandu and her govt, which has promised to secure EU membership and crackdown on corruption since 2020 electoral victory, and early parliamentary elections. Populist opposition party Sor organised demonstrations; party is led by MP, businessman and fugitive Ilan Shor, sentenced in 2017 for money laundering and large-scale banking fraud. MPs from Sor Party 9 Sept met Chairman of Russian State Duma Committee on International Affairs Leonid Slutsky in Moscow. Slutsky 24 Sept called Ilan Shor and Sor Party Russia’s “reliable partners”, prompting many to speculate about Kremlin’s possible role in protests to help destabilise country.
Amid fears of Ukraine war spillover, President Sandu sought to advance EU membership bid, while Western states signalled greater support for govt. Following meeting with President Sandu in capital Chisinau, European Council President Charles Michel 4 May pledged increased military support to country, vowed to “help Moldova strengthen its resilience and cope with the consequences of the spillover from Russia’s aggression in Ukraine”. Referring to incidents when de facto interior ministry of breakaway territory Transnistria 5 April reported attack on de facto security ministry allegedly involving grenade-launchers, Sandu said “we see no imminent risk right now” despite recent “provocations” in April in breakaway Transnistria; EU Parliament 5 May adopted resolution urging govt to be granted candidate status for admission to bloc; Sandu 18 May addressed EU Parliament, urging member states to support country’s membership bid. UN Sec Gen Antonio Guterres 9 May visited Chisinau, said country is Ukraine’s “most fragile neighbour”. U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines 10 May said Russia intends to establish land bridge from Crimean Peninsula to Transnistria. UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss 21 May called for Moldova to be “equipped to NATO standard”. Meanwhile, Moldovan authorities 24 May reportedly detained head of pro-Russian opposition party and former president Igor Dodon on corruption charges. De facto authorities in Transnistria 13 May reported that unidentified assailants targeted with Molotov cocktails oil depot and conscription office in de facto regional capital Tiraspol.
Unknown assailants launched armed attack on de facto ministry in breakaway Transnistria, as concerns rose incident could signal spillover from Ukraine war. De facto interior ministry of breakaway territory Transnistria – located along Ukrainian border and controlled by Russian-speaking separatists since 1992 – 25 April reported attack on de facto security ministry allegedly involving grenade-launchers; no casualties reported. Moldova’s foreign ministry same day said aim of incident “is to create pretexts for straining the security situation in the Transnistrian region”. Ukrainian intelligence directorate 26 April said incident “is one of a number of acts of provocation organised by [Russian intelligence services] to incite panic and anti-Ukrainian sentiment” and “justify the war on the territory of Ukraine in order to involve the [Transnistrian] region in combat”. De facto head of region Vadim Krasnoselsky 26 April said “traces of these attacks lead to Ukraine”. Russian major general 22 April reportedly said Russian control of southern Ukraine could provide access to Transnistria, where estimated 1,500 Russian troops are stationed.
Amid ongoing political tensions, President Maia Sandu called for parliamentary elections in July; meanwhile, news reports revealed Russian military activity in Transnistria. Following 31 March vote by deputies of Socialist Party led by ex-President Dodon and Pentru Moldova platform to impose state of emergency until 30 May, Constitutional Court 28 April stated decision violated the law, clearing way for snap elections. In response, Dodon same day criticised court decision and called for “political response to usurpers who want to set up external control”. Maia Sandu 28 April dissolved parliament and scheduled early elections for 11 July; since her Nov 2020 victory as president over her main political rival Dodon, Sandu had been unable to nominate PM supporting her. Polls 21 April showed “The Action and Solidarity” party (which backs current president) ahead of Dodon-led Socialists. Meanwhile, amid growing tensions between Kyiv and Moscow (see Ukraine), Russian soldiers carried out up to seven military drills in country’s breakaway region of Transnistria in April. Ukrainian judge Mykola Chaus, wanted for bribery in Ukraine, 3 April was abducted in capital Chisinau, causing tensions in country’s relations with Kyiv.
Constitutional Court 7 May cancelled parliament’s approval of Russian loan totalling €200mn over ten years, ruling credit agreement unconstitutional. European Parliament 15 May approved proposal for emergency assistance to ten countries to overcome economic consequences of COVID-19 pandemic; Moldova will receive €100mn.
Coalition govt led by pro-Western PM Sandu collapsed 12 Nov after losing no-confidence vote prompted by disagreement on how to appoint prosecutor general. Parliament 14 Nov approved new govt led by former finance minister Ion Chicu, nominated by pro-Russian President Dodon, to have transitional role until elections.
Following creation of coalition govt in June, European Commission 15 July said it would unlock €14.5mn in financial aid citing “progress on issues which are linked to the disbursement of money”, and proceeded to disburse funds 23 July. During 24 July visit to Brussels, new PM Maia Sandu signed three financial assistance agreements worth total of €40.25mn with EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn, who lauded new anti-corruption efforts; EU had cut aid to govt in Nov amid concerns of democratic backsliding. Authorities 26 July issued national arrest warrant for oligarch Ilan Shor, who allegedly organised theft of €0.9bn from banking sector in 2014.
New coalition govt formed, unblocking three months of deadlock since no party or coalition won absolute majority in Feb legislative elections. Pro-European integration Party of Action and Solidarity (ACUM) and pro-Russian Socialist Party 8 June formed coalition, enabling it to form govt during extraordinary parliamentary session and nominated ACUM leader Maia Sandu to prime minister. Former ruling Democratic Party same day appealed against move to constitutional court, which declared new govt invalid, arguing that deadline to form govt had passed 7 June, 90 days after certification of elections. Court 9 June temporarily suspended President Igor Dodon, Socialist Party leader, reportedly to allow then interim PM Filip to dissolve parliament and issue decree calling for snap election; Dodon and ACUM leader Maia Sandu, however ignored verdict. PM Filip resigned 14 June; VP of his Democratic Party, Vladimir Cebotari, said decision was made to “avoid an escalation that could lead to violence”. Constitutional court next day overturned its earlier decision and recognised new govt led by PM Sandu; all six judges of constitutional court resigned 26 June.
Preliminary results of 24 Feb parliamentary elections saw pro-Russia Socialist Party win 35 out of 101 seats, ruling Democrats 30 seats and pro-European ACUM 26 seats, with turnout reported at 49%. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitors 25 Feb declared elections “competitive” but “tainted by allegations of pressure on public employees, strong indications of vote buying and the misuse of state resources”. Media reported dozens of buses from pro-Russia breakaway region Transnistria – where vote was not held – brought over 30,000 voters, allegedly paid to cast ballots.
European Parliament 14 Nov passed resolution stating Moldova has become “state captured by oligarchic interests” and citing concern over democratic backsliding, shrinking space for civil society and other issues; said future EU aid should take only once Feb 2019 parliamentary elections are conducted in line with international standards. European Commission 15 Nov announced it was cutting financial assistance to Moldova by €20mn annually in 2017 and 2018 due to concerns about rule of law and democratic backsliding; also said €100mn in macro financial assistance suspended indefinitely. EU called for action on voiding of mayoral elections in capital and 2014 disappearance of funds from banks.
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) 15 Aug expressed concern over river-crossing exercise conducted by Russian military in Transnistria Security Zone mid-month, as the OSCE was obstructed from fully monitoring the exercises and they were not authorised by Joint Control Commission, in violation of 1992 agreement on principles of a peaceful settlement. Thousands joined anti-govt protests in capital 26 Aug; hundreds protested next day.
Hundreds joined protest in front of parliament 19 July against annulment of Andrei Năstase’s victory in 3 June Chișinău mayoral election and demanding new elections. Responding to election annulment, EU 4 July froze first tranche of €100mn financial assistance program, citing annulment which it said showed lack of respect for preconditions of democratic mechanisms and rule of law; European Parliament 5 July said annulment of mayoral election was evidence of “state capture and a very deep crisis of institutions”.
Chișinău court 19 June invalidated pro-EU candidate Andrei Năstase’s victory in 3 June second round mayoral election, ruling that he violated campaign laws; Supreme Court 21 June upheld decision, which prompted thousands of people to protest 19, 24 June and dozens 26 June; Central Electoral Commission 29 June confirmed Supreme Court’s ruling. EU foreign policy chief Mogherini urged authorities to take measures to ensure results are respected. UN General Assembly 22 June passed non-binding resolution calling for withdrawal “unconditionally and without further delay” of some 1,400 Russian troops from separatist region Transnistria.
Representatives of Chisinau govt and Transnistria 24 April agreed that vehicles in separatist region can use neutral licence plates starting in Sept 2018. EU official said agreement, which is backed by Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, “represents an important step forward and contributes to a positive dynamic in the Transnistrian settlement process”, and would “bring tangible benefits to the population”. At 12 April forum in Ukrainian capital Kyiv, PM suggested Russia withdraw its roughly 1,412 troops stationed in Transnistria, via Ukraine. Both Russia and Ukraine denounced proposal.
Parliament speakers from Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine 2 March issued joint statement saying their countries were “profoundly concerned” about presence of Russian troops in Moldova and “Russian occupation and other forms of military intervention” in parts of Georgia and Ukraine; criticised what they called Russia’s “coordinated foreign support for separatist movements”; and reaffirmed their commitment to the EU.
PM Filip speaking at Munich Security Conference 17 Feb reiterated call for Russia to withdraw military forces and munitions from Moldova’s separatist Transdniestria region; said country seeks “balanced, friendly” relationship with Russia. Parliament Speaker Andrian Candu 9 Feb accused Russia of interfering in Moldovan politics ahead of 2018 elections; came day after parliament adopted declaration condemning alleged Russian cyberattacks and financing of political parties.
Standoff between pro-EU govt led by PM Filip and pro-Russian President Dodon intensified. Constitutional Court 2 Jan temporarily suspended Dodon’s powers at govt’s request after Dodon blocked Filip’s cabinet reshuffle nominations, delegating presidential powers to parliamentary chair or PM. Dodon called ruling “shameful”. Court 5 Jan again ruled govt can pass law banning “media propaganda” from Russia without Dodon’s signature, after he twice refused to sign bill into law.
Foreign ministry 18 Dec reported it had recalled Moldovan ambassador to Russia for consultations, due to “recent increase of cases of harassment and intimidation of Moldovan officials and politicians by Russian authorities” and lack of official response to “repeated complaints of Moldovan authorities”. Pro-Russian President Dodon condemned decision as “yet another provocation … aimed at undermining the strategic partnership between our countries”. Earlier in month, head of ruling Democratic Party, Vlad Plahotnuic, accused Russian authorities of “politically motivated persecution” through “fabricated” lawsuits. EU home affairs Commissioner Dmitris Avramopoulos 20 Dec said Moldova needs to step up efforts to address organised crime and corruption.
OSCE reported “substantial progress” in 27 Nov talks on Transdniestrian settlement in Vienna in 5+2 format (OSCE, Russia, Ukraine, U.S., EU, Chisinau and Tiraspol). Sides confirmed and solidified progress on several social and economic issues, out of eight issues previously identified: includes early Nov agreement to reopen bridge over Dniestr river linking territories; plus issues of freedom of movement over river, Moldovan language schools in Transdniestria, and recognition of university diplomas in Moldova. Sides also made “clear commitment” to finalise remaining issues at beginning of 2018. European Parliament 15 Nov passed resolution praising reforms in Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia, said they could be considered for membership in future. EU Eastern Partnership Summit issued declaration saying summit participants “acknowledge the European aspirations” of partners concerned, as stated in Association Agreements. Constitutional Court 31 Oct approved draft amendment to constitution to change official name of country’s language to Romanian, from Moldovan; pro-Russian President Dodon said change should require referendum.
Amid ongoing tensions between pro-EU govt led by PM Filip and Russian-oriented President Dodon, Constitutional Court 17 Oct said president could be temporarily suspended for refusing to swear in new defence minister proposed by PM. European Commission 3 Oct said it would closely monitor implementation of July’s controversial new electoral law introducing mixed electoral system. EU 11 Oct said was withholding €28mn loan tranche for reforms to Moldova’s justice system citing “insufficient commitment” to reform of sector.
Tensions between EU/U.S.-leaning govt of PM Filip and Russian-oriented President Dodon continued. Govt early Sept overruled decision by Dodon in order to send 57 soldiers to NATO-led military exercises in Ukraine. Dodon 13 Sept rejected govt nomination for defence minister, also vetoed bills passed by parliament which he said limited his powers as supreme commander; parliament 21 Sept overrode vetoes. President Dodon’s opposition Socialist Party 24 Sept launched campaign to increase presidential powers. PM Filip addressed UN General Assembly 22 Sept, called for discussion on withdrawal of Russian troops from breakaway Transnistria region.
Relations with Russia further strained as govt 2 Aug declared Russian deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin persona non grata, accused him of making defamatory comments about Moldovan officials on Russian television; Moscow criticised ban as “provocative and unsubstantiated”. Moldovan President Dodon, who supports closer relations with Moscow, 5 Aug met with Rogozin in Tehran where both were attending presidential inauguration. Russian ambassador to UN criticised report that Moldova has requested UN to discuss withdrawal of foreign troops from separatist Transnistria during Sept UNGA; Dodon also criticised request.
Despite ongoing protests since June, President Dodon 20 July signed into law bill introducing mixed electoral system, after it was approved by parliament same day. Constitutional Court 27 July ruled that referendum proposed by President Dodon to broaden his powers – specifically being allowed to dissolve parliament and announce early elections – was unconstitutional. NGOs issued statement urging govt not to ban foreign funding for NGOs involved in “political activity”. On 25th anniversary of end of 1992 Transnistria war, parliament 21 July called for Russian troops to pull out of separatist Transnistria region, prompting criticism from Dodon who called it “provocative step”, “intended to worsen relations with Russia”.
Thousands reportedly joined protests in Chisinau and other cities 11 June for and against proposed changes to electoral system which would create mixed system, with some MPs elected under “first past the post” and some remaining under current proportional representation. Based on early June expert report warning changes carry risks including vulnerability to undue influence by vested interests, Council of Europe’s Venice Commission 16 June criticised draft law. EU 19 June expressed concern over proposed changes, said they could require reassessment of Association Agreement. EU offered €100mn in economic aid on condition govt steps up anti-corruption reforms.
President Dodon 3 April signed memorandum of cooperation with Eurasian Economic Union, prompting criticism from PM Filip who said it aimed to undermine relations with EU. Senior EU official 19 April said bloc expects Moldova to “fully comply with its obligations” under its association and trade agreements with EU.
Newly-elected President Dodon met with Russian President Putin and during Moscow visit 17 Jan, reportedly suggested he wanted to abandon 2014 Association Agreement with EU. European Commission 13 Jan announced it will offer Moldova €100mn in aid. Dodon met with de facto head of breakaway Transnistria early Jan.
Breakaway Transnistria region held presidential election 11 Dec; vote not recognised by Moldovan govt and international community. Self-declared parliament chief Vadim Krasnoselsky won with 62% of vote; later said he would strengthen region’s partnership with Russia.
Pro-Russian Socialist Party leader Igor Dodon won 52.3% of vote in second round of presidential election 13 Nov, defeating pro-Europe candidate Maia Sandu with 47.7%; turnout reported at 53.3%. Lawyer for Sandu late month said she would appeal result at Supreme Court, claiming election commission violated voting rights of Moldovans living outside country. Dodon 15 Nov said he would not scrap 2014 Association Agreement between Moldova and EU, despite his campaign pledges to reverse country’s European integration.
Presidential election 30 Oct, first in twenty years by popular rather than parliamentary vote, saw pro-Russian candidate Igor Dodon win 48.26%, ahead of pro-Europe candidate Maia Sandu with 38.42%; vote to go to second round 13 Nov.
Leader of self-proclaimed Transdniester Moldovan republic 7 Sept issued decree calling for region to join Russia by 1 Nov, in line with 2006 referendum in region which saw 97.2% vote in favour of move; Moldovan govt does not recognise referendum.
EU-Moldova association agreement entered into force 1 July; IMF 26 July agreed to $179 mn loan over three years conditional on govt economic reforms. Former top anticorruption official called for international investigation into fraud case which in part saw conviction of former PM Filat in June.