Moldovans choose between Europe, Russia in local elections

Moldovans voted in local elections on Sunday which are seen as a test of whether the country is committed to European integration or will move closer to Russiaand’s orbit.
The elections came two days after pro-European Prime Minister Chiril Gaburici resigned after he was questioned about the authenticity of his high school diplomas and university degree.
Polls opened at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT 12 a.m. EDT) and closed at 9 p.m. (1800 GMT 2 p.m. EDT). About 2.8 million eligible voters were choosing mayors and local councils. A runoff is slated for June 28 for seats with no candidate who secures 50 percent of the vote.
The key seat is the capital, Chisinau, where Dorin Chirtoaca, the pro-European mayor of the city of about 1 million people since 2007, faces Zinaida Greceanai, who is running for the pro-Russian Socialists.
Gaburici, a businessman who headed a minority government, had criticized a probe into the disappearance of $1.5 billion from three Moldovan banks before November elections.
Last week Moscow eased some of the import restrictions in what has been interpreted as a sign of support for pro-Russia parties ahead of the vote.
Following the local elections, an attempt will be made to form a new pro-European coalition, which would require the support of the liberal and communist parties. If this fails, a fresh parliamentary election could be called.
Dissatisfaction with the authorities is running high — thousands took to the streets in May to protest the disappearance of the $1 billion from three of the countryand’s largest banks, bankrupted by a series of non-performing loans.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman