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Moldova Has Left Russia’s Sphere Of Influence, Nezavisimaya Gazeta Says – OpEd

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Local election result in Moldova show that Moldovans are disappointed in the Customs Union and do not want Russia as “a big brother,” according to Svetlana Gamova of “Nezavisimaya gazeta.” Instead, they highlight the continuing importance of geopolitics in Moldova and the fact that that country “has left Russia’s sphere of influence.”

In today’s paper, reporting on the Moldovan election results announced yesterday, Gamova, who head the Moscow paper’s “department on countries of the near abroad” said that the results showed that earlier public opinion polls had been wrong producing many unexpected results (ng.ru/cis/2015-06-30/1_moldavia.html).

In Chisinau, where a third of Moldovans live, a representative of the pro-European Liberal Party was elected mayor rather than the candidate of the pro-Russian Party of Socialists, a pattern that was repeated in smaller cities and towns across the country, according to the Moscow journalist.

“All Moldovan voters see Moscow as being behind the socialists,” she writes. “Last fall, when the leaders of the Socialist Party appeared on television meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow that helped them get into parliament and become the largest fraction.” But Russia’s failure to provide a market for Moldovan products has led to massive disappointment.

That disappointment in Moscow is so profound, local political analyst Andrey Andriyevsky says, that while some in Moldova may call for closer ties with Russia even in the future, “one can say with a great degree of certainty that these parties and politicians will no longer guide Moldova either at the local or the national level.”

According to him, “the Socialists made a mistake by constructing their program in parallel with the Soviet past and this played against them. Just as did their constant counterposing of Russian to the European Union. Moldovans were disappointed in the EU earlier,” but now they are disappointed in Russia.

Being disappointed in both, Viktor Stepaniuk of the Popular Socialist Party says, “Moldovans today want to remain between the unions (east and west) and at the same time work with the one and the other.” That reflects the fact that “in every Moldovan family there is someone working in Italy or Spain and someone else working in Russia.”

To the extent he is right, that would suggest that while Moldova indeed has left Russia’s sphere of influence, it has not yet joined the EU’s, largely because the latter has not reached out to it and helped integrate its economy with the Western one.

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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