Moldovans are heading to the polls on Sunday in parliamentary elections which pit pro-European parties against pro-Russian ones.
The former Soviet country’s governing coalition is looking to strengthen ties with Europe, but the Kremlin appears to be pressuring them to look East.
Moldova signed an association agreement with Brussels over the summer, a move that has angered Moscow which has banned food imports in retaliation.
Stoking tensions further, on the eve of the vote a high court banned a party led by a millionaire Russian businessman on the grounds it received some of its funds from abroad.
“A pro-Russian coalition is simply impossible because of the antagonism between the three pro-Russian, so called pro-russian parties,” explained Igor Botan, a political analyst from ADEPT think tank. “It is an antagonism which was impossible to overcome, that’s why I was very calm concerning the participation of pro Russian parties in these elections campaign.”
Moscow said that the exclusion of the party had raised what they called ‘serious doubts’ about the election.
Euronews correspondent Sergio Cantone in Chisinau sums up:
“Debates about the legitimacy of electoral processes are usually a bad sign for the future stability of the country in question. That rings true for Moldova, especially considering what is going on in the rest of eastern Europe”.