Moldova’s president vows election revenge after latest suspension

Kremlin-friendly Igor Dodon locked in bitter power struggle with pro-EU government

Moldova’s pro-Kremlin president, Igor Dodon, with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at  an informal Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit in Novo-Ogaryovo,  near Moscow, on December 26th. Photograph: Alexei Druzhnin/EPA/Sputnik

Moldova’s pro-Kremlin president, Igor Dodon, with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at an informal Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit in Novo-Ogaryovo, near Moscow, on December 26th. Photograph: Alexei Druzhnin/EPA/Sputnik

 

Moldovan president Igor Dodon has warned the country’s government that its days are numbered, after it succeeded in suspending him for a third time to pass a law that he considers unfair to the nation’s Russian speakers.

Moldova has been pulled between east and west since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and divisions have deepened amid a power struggle between the pro-Kremlin Mr Dodon and a government that seeks EU membership.

In recent months, Moldova’s constitutional court has twice before approved the temporary suspension of Mr Dodon to allow the government to push through changes that he calls detrimental to the national interest and ties with Moscow.

On Friday, the court ruled that Mr Dodon had acted illegally in refusing to sign a law that the government says will combat fake news and propaganda, but which Mr Dodon says is aimed at restricting Moldovans’ access to Russian media.

Another senior official will now be able to sign the changes into law. Last October, the parliamentary speaker swore in a new defence minister whom Mr Dodon opposed, and he is expected to do the same in the near future for several new ministers of whom the president disapproves.

“I will under no circumstances yield to the regime. I will not approve ministers who compromise themselves and I will not sign laws that contradict the interests of citizens,” Mr Dodon wrote on Facebook on Friday.

“As regards the latest actions of the regime with the support of the constitutional court, they will not be without consequences.”

Long history

Mr Dodon said his Socialist party would have its revenge over the scandal-plagued ruling Democrats in parliamentary elections later this year.

“What the ruling regime has done today is more like a death agony than democracy. There will come a time when the politics of double standards will lead to victims among the ranks of the Democrats. In the long term, they will be the losers,” he warned.

“The decisive battle is ahead this year. I call on all citizens to unite all patriotic forces against the Euro-unionist regime, which thinks it can subdue the will of the people with force and pressure. Victory will be ours.”

In Moldova, “unionists” want their country to become part of neighbouring Romania, with which it shares a language and long history.

The territory of modern-day Moldova passed between Romanian and Russian control for centuries before being swallowed up by the Soviet Union.

Fears for post-Soviet unification with Romania fuelled a brief war in 1992, which saw Transdniestria – Moldova’s main Russian-speaking region – break from government control.

It has run its own affairs with Moscow’s help ever since, and Russia still stations about 2,000 troops there – despite agreeing to withdraw them by 2002.