Moldavian authorities arrest and deport Russian and Belarussian observers
Parliamentary elections are now over in Moldova. About 1,5 million people, or 64 percent of Moldavian citizens came to the polls. The ruling communist party is leading, according to preliminary results of the voting. The Democratic Moldova party follows with 28 percent, Christian and Democratic Party was given 9 percent, and The Party and the Fatherland received only 5 percent of votes. The Central Election Committee will analyze and check the date during the forthcoming five days and send the information to the Constitution Court. The court in its turn will issue its verdict within the period of ten days.
Moldavian communists' victory at the parliamentary elections does not promise anything good for Russia. Russia's relations with Moldova will continue worsening: local communists have recently taken a pro-European orientation.
The polls were opened at 7.00 a.m. It became known by midday that Moldavian citizens were not hurrying to fulfill their civic duty. A spokesman for the Central Election Committee said that the turnout was rather low. The low activity could probably be explained with bad weather: it was raining heavily in Chisinau for several hours. The rain did not stop incumbent President of Moldova, Vladimir Voronin, though. The president voted in the morning “for the people of Moldova,” as he said.
The number of those, who wished to participate in the parliamentary elections of Moldova, was rather high in Moscow, though. Thousands of people lined up in front of the Moldavian embassy in Moscow, Andrei Cerne, the chairman of the international public organization Patria Moldova said. Cerne said that the administration of the embassy ignored a request to increase the number of voting booths.
There were no violations registered during the parliamentary elections in Moldavia, a spokesperson for the local Central Election Committee said. The committee's chairman, Peter Railyan, said that there were no violations registered on almost 2,000 polls in Moldova nationwide.
Ahmed Bilapov, a PACE observer, has a different opinion on the matter. “For the time being we have been able to visit only two polls. As we could see, there were no seals on ballot urns, election committee members would stamp voters' passports. These are rather serious infringements – the Moldavian law does not stipulate such a norm,” Bilapov said.
Furthermore, the head of the temporal mission of the non-governmental organization to observe elections in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Aleksei Kochetkov, believes that the results of parliamentary elections in Moldavia might be falsified. “We have already witnessed the low turnout and agitation at certain polls. The results can be falsified during the stage of their final calculation,” said he.
Moldavian absentee voters had an opportunity to participate in the parliamentary elections as well. There were nine special polls organized for Transdniestr residents; 23 polls were opened at Moldavian diplomatic missions in other countries. Moldavians had no choice in Russia, though: there was only one poll prepared in the republic's embassy in Moscow.
The parliamentary elections in Moldavia have taken place against the background of declining relations between Moscow and Chisinau. The Moldavian authorities accuse Russia of illegal interference in the pre-election campaign. A group of Russian specialists of politics was arrested in Moldavia in February of the current year. The specialists were subsequently accused of spying on Moldova's president and other outstanding politicians of the republic.
Hundreds of Russian observers were stopped on the border with Moldavia on Saturday. Moldavian customs officers took their IDs away and made them spend hours of waiting in stuffy trains. Spokesmen for the Moldavian authorities said that the detained Russian citizens had to be deported because they could not be referred to as observers. The arrested Russians tried to protest against such a blatant decision. They decided to go on hunger strike, took a tube of toothpaste and wrote “Hunger Strike” with it on one of the train cars. The incident resulted in rather lamentable consequences: a male resident of St.Petersburg had a stroke.
The Russian observers had to spend 15 hours of waiting on the border. On Sunday, the arrested train cars were hitched to the Chisinau-St.Petersburg train and sent back to Russia.
A group of forty-six observers from Belarus had to experience a similar incident. The Belarussian observers were deported on their way to Chisinau. Only foreign observers – about 800 people, presumably from OSCE and PACE - will be able to watch the election process in Moldova.