Moldova's pro-Russian opposition forms new political bloc at Moscow meeting

Moldova's pro-Russian opposition forms new political bloc at Moscow meeting
Fugitive oligarch Ilan Shor seeks to consolidate Moldova's pro-Russian opposition ahead of this autumn's presidential election. / Shor Party
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest April 23, 2024

Moldovan opposition politicians announced the formation of a new pro-Russian political bloc at a meeting organised by fugitive Moldovan oligarch Ilan Shor in Moscow. 

Moldova will organise presidential elections on October 20 and parliamentary elections in 2025. If the pro-EU ruling Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) losing its majority in parliament, a scenario that would become more likely if President Maia Sandu fails to get another term, it would seriously endanger the country's European integration.

Shor has been sentenced in his country to 15 years of prison in the so-called billion-dollar bank fraud, but he still wields considerable influence within Moldova. 

The congress held by Shor's declared pro-Russian political bloc on April 21 was a first step towards the consolidation of a more complex anti-EU opposition in Moldova, which would probably also include former president Igor Dodon's Socialist Party.

Named Victory, the pro-Russian political bloc announced by Shor in Moscow brings together the oligarch’s new party Chance (Sansa) and the older Renaissance party, which for many years was not visible in the political arena but was recently revived by several MPs that defected from the PSRM. 

Several other minor political vehicles joined the two main partners in the Victory bloc: the Alternative and Salvation Forces of Moldova FASM party and the Victoria party.

MP Marina Tauber, Shor’s closest collaborator in Moldova, became the secretary of the executive committee of the newly formed political bloc.

The governor of the pro-Russian autonomous Gagauzia region, Evghenia Gutul, and the chairman of the People's Assembly of Gagauzia, Dmitry Konstantinov, also attended the meeting organised by Shor in Moscow. The pro-Russian autonomous region has turned into a key region for the hybrid war organised by Russia, since it enjoys special status in the country’s constitution.

Pre-election positioning

The formation of the political bloc has no formal relevance for the parliamentary elections in Moldova, where the parties must be registered as an electoral bloc to run on joint lists. However, the new political entity is fully functional ahead of the presidential elections, where candidates are registered on an individual basis.

The bloc of Ilan Shor, who cannot run directly in the October 20 presidential elections against the frontrunner, Sandu, reportedly seeks to back a single candidate. Polls indicate its candidate would come in third in the first round of voting, but likely become the kingmaker in the second round.

There is no such candidate at this moment, but Shor demonstrated outstanding power in transferring his robust electoral support to anonymous candidates such as the current governor of Gagauzia Evghenia Gutul.

In the parliamentary elections next year, Shor's bloc visibly hopes to get enough votes to negotiate a political majority with Dodon’s Socialists and oust the PAS. 

Dodon still ranks as the second most popular candidate ahead of the presidential election and his Socialist party is the strongest opposition force in Moldova. It is thus unlikely that they are being ignored by those who manage the hybrid war against the pro-EU authorities in Chisinau.

But Dodon and his party are more useful to Moscow as a moderate anti-EU, nationalist or euro-sceptic party in Moldova aimed at absorbing the pro-Russian electorate that doesn’t want to directly identify itself with Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.