World Bulletin/News Desk
A would-be kingmaker in elections in Moldova, millionaire dark horse candidate Renato Usatii, said on Friday he had fled to Russia fearing arrest after his party was excluded from the vote in a move likely to embolden pro-European rivals.
Moldova, a nation of 3.5 million on the southwestern rim of the former Soviet Union, faces a crucial choice in the Nov. 30 parliamentary election, deciding between closer ties with Europe or a return to the orbit of its former master Russia.
February's toppling by mass protests of a pro-Russian Ukrainian president, who fled to Russia, stirred tensions between Moscow and the pro-Western Ukrainian leaders who replaced him. Within two months, Russia had annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and a pro-Russian rebellion broke out in the ex-Soviet country's eastern territories.
On Thursday, a court ruled to bar Patria from the polls, citing a number of violations, including receipt of 8,156,000 Moldovan lei ($453,000) from abroad to help fund its campaign.
Opinion polls indicated Usatii's party could have received between 8 and 14 percent percent in the election thanks to the support of those disenchanted with the ruling centre-right coalition and deep nostalgia for Soviet-era stability.
Usatii, who has bankrolled concerts by Russian showbiz celebrities in Moldova, was widely expected to become part of a new ruling coalition in the country's next parliament.
Before Patria was knocked out of the race, opinion polls gave the three pro-European parties between 38 and 43 percent in the future parliament.Last Mod: 29 Kasım 2014, 10:52