Moldova votes in parliamentary polls on Sunday, choosing between closer ties with Europe or a return to the orbit of its former master, Russia.
Moldova’s Western-looking leaders, supported by Romania’s president-elect Klaus Iohannis who visited Chisinau on Friday, are confident of keeping to a pro-European track.
They are also talking about outside interference, with Moscow backing a breakaway territory on Moldova’s eastern border with Ukraine.
“I can confirm that we already have in the republic of Moldova, people who come from abroad, intent on destabilising the situation,” ex-prime minister Vlad Filat, leader of the Liberal Democrat Party of Moldova (PDLM), told euronews.
“After the apocalyptic Crimean scenario and its annexation by the Russian Federation, any scenario is possible.”
But the pro-Moscow block is putting up a strong fight – notably the Socialist Party whose leader Igor Dodon recently met Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
It says the pro-Europe course will cut Moldova off from a powerful and stable ally which can provide plentiful supplies of cheap gas.
“We will only be able to create jobs by having access to the Russian market,” Dodon told euronews, calling for Moldova to join a Moscow-led customs union.
“The reunification of the country is another problem”, he added, referring to the breakaway enclave of Transdniestria, saying this will happen only if Moldova gets customs union membership.
Deeply divided, Moldova is one of Europe’s smallest and poorest countries. Opinion polls indicate that Sunday’s election could be a close-run race between the pro-Russia and pro-Europe camps.