Thousands protest in Chisinau after pro-Russian Igor Dodon wins Moldova vote

November 15, 2016 6:00 pm
Thousands of Moldovans have protested in the capital Chisinau after a West-leaning politician claimed that a presidential runoff which propelled her pro-Russian rival to victory was “neither free nor fair.”
The protesters gathered in front of Moldova’s Great National Assembly before marching to the Central Electoral Commission where a high number of riot police were deployed.
Final results on Monday showed socialist-backed opposition candidate Igor Dodon won 52.2 percent of the vote against Maia Sandu who had 47.8 percent. 
Sandu cried foul, accusing her rival of using “manipulation, lies, dirty money” in his bid to win.
Up to 3,000 mostly young Moldovans then marched to the offices of the Central Election Committee in Chisinau shouting “Down with the Mafia!”
International election observers, however, said “fundamental freedoms were respected,” even though “polarized media coverage, harsh rhetoric detracted from the process.”
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in (OSCE) described its overall assessment of the election as positive but said reports that some voters were unable to vote due to the lack of ballots were “regrettable.”

Initial results on Monday show Igor Dodon leading in Moldova’s presidential runoff. 

The 41-year-old Dodon tapped into popular anger over the approximately $1 billion that went missing from Moldovan banks before the 2014 parliamentary elections.
Many Moldovans hope Dodon’s election will rekindle ties with Moscow, which took a hit after the country signed an association agreement with the European Union in 2014.
Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Dodon to visit Moscow and said he looked forward to developing bilateral relations.
The eastern European state of 3.5 million is located on the fault line separating from Europe. Dodon has pledged to pursue closer ties with rather than the European Union.
He argues that the recent gravitation towards the European Union has cost the country its ties with neighboring Russia. Dodon’s policy is backed by many Moldovans who suffered financially from the goods embargo imposed by Russia and a broader economic downturn.
Moldova has been in turmoil since the mysterious disappearance of money from three banks, which sparked huge street protests and the arrest of the former prime minister Vlad Filat.
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