Moldova’s Pro-Russian President in Play for Rebel Region Votes

Votes from breakaway Transnistria may prove decisive in a close-run election for Moldovan president.

His popularity dented by the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Moldova’s pro-Russian president, Igor Dodon, is making a play for votes in the breakaway Transnistria region to tip the scales in what promises to be a close-run presidential election in November.

Bidding for a second term, Dodon faces a strong challenge from pro-European opposition leader Maia Sandu, who is capitalising on widespread dissatisfaction with the way the ruling Socialists, de-facto led by Dodon, have handled the spread of the novel coronavirus.

However, a formal face-to-face meeting at the presidential residence on July 28 with the separatist leader of Transnistria, Vadim Krasnoselsky, has raised suspicion that Dodon plans to offer concessions in order to win over voters in the rebel region of some 350,000 people.

Dodon raised eyebrows when he referred to Krasnoselsky as the “president of Transnistria”, a Russian-backed region with pretensions to be a state but which remains unrecognised three decades after it broke away from Moldova in a war with the end of the Soviet Union.

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