Pro-Russian party set to be banned in Moldova

By bne IntelliNews November 27, 2014

bne IntelliNews -

One of Moldova's parties opposing closer links with the European Union looks set to be banned from competing in the November 30 elections because of its alleged funding by Russia, according to NewsMoldova.

The Electoral Bureau has proposed excluding the Patria party, controlled by maverick politician Renato Usatii, after reviewing police documents showing its foreign funding, which is illegal under Moldovan legislation. The Court of Appeal in Chisinau will make the final decision on November 27.

The move could favour the pro-European ruling coalition, but increases the risk of post-electoral mass protests organised by radical pro-Russian groups.

Patria and the radical Socialist party (PS) party of Igor Dodon enjoy the visible support of Russia. Russian vice-PM Dmitry Rogozin stated on November 19 that Moldova’s elections cannot be democratic as long as Usatii and Dodon are threatened by the pro-EU ruling parties. Having Usatii’s party banned would most likely prompt even tougher criticism from Russia and would increase the formal and informal support extended by Russia to anti-EU movements in Moldova.

Patria party positions itself as the most radical anti-EU party in Moldova. The party came earlier this year under the control of Usatii – a businessmen having made a fortune under unclear circumstances in the Russian Federation. A tape leaked this week in the media allegedly revealed Usatii’s relationship with the Russian internal intelligence services FSB. While the traditional Moldovan Communist party PCRM, led by former President Vladimir Voronin, wants only to amend the Association Agreement with the EU, Patria and the PS advocate the total cancellation of the agreement.

The court’s decision over the banning of Usatii’s party in the November 30 elections would backfire, Dodon warned in a statement quoted by NewsMoldova. Indeed, while at first sight the move would increase the odds of the pro-EU parties, Patria’s voters will still have the right to vote and they will probably support the other anti-EU parties. Dodon’s PS is the most likely recipient of these votes.

But banning Patria party would also increase the likelihood of post-electoral mass protests. Moldovan authorities already mentioned such threats and said that they are prepared to face possible violent protests by the anti-EU groups.

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