|Moldovan President Igor Dodon taking a selfie with a young woman in St Petersburg, November 25, 2019. Photo: Igor Dodon Facebok|
Moldova’s pro-Russian President, Igor Dodon, has called on all members of the huge Moldovan diaspora in Russia to vote in the next Moldovan elections on February 24, 2019, whether or not they have issues with their Russian work and residence permits.
He has promised that Moscow will turn a blind eye to such problems if they come home to vote.
“I spoke about the results of agreements we reached with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin about an amnesty for Moldovan citizens who violate the provisions of the [Russian or Moldovan] constitution and law,” Dodon told Moldovans living in St Petersburg at a gathering on Sunday.
He also explained the new mixed electoral system and how he had lobbied for more voting stations to be opened in Russia for the upcoming elections.
The violated laws that Dodon referred to relate to lawful departure from Russia and re-entry to Moldova.
Data from Moldova show that while about 550,000 Moldovan citizens were living in Russia in 2015, only about half of these, 250,963, were officially registered with legal papers.
Experts from the Russian Strategic Research Center showed in a report on Russia’s emigration policy issues that the number of Moldovans registered officially in Russia was now far lower, at only 157,548, due to the application of more rigorous laws in past years on the right to live and work in Russia.
Even so, unofficial numbers circulated by Moldovan experts still count about a half-a-million Moldovan citizens living in Russia, with or without legal papers.
The opposition pro-Russian Socialist Party in Moldova, which is close to Dodon, is doing well in the polls, and is credited with enjoying the support of about 36 per cent of voters ahead of the next elections, according to the newest survey.
The governing pro-EU parties have been discredited by a series of corruption scandals and by the theft of about a billion US dollars from the country’s banking system.
The President, who champions close ties to the Kremlin, has been actively campaigning for the party, even though the Moldovan constitution who does not allow the head of state to have any political engagement with any party in the country.
Moldova signed an association agreement with the EU in 2014 and most of its exports now go to the EU. Dodon and the Socialists, however, are convinced that the country’s future lies more with Russia.
In a recent interview with the UK’s Financial Times, Dodon insisted he was not anti-Western but merely sought a more balanced position for his country between the two blocs.