Republic of Moldova: Local elections show wins for pro-Moscow parties, Chisinau mayor in the runoff on June 28

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Near-final results in Moldova’s local elections show Chisinau’s incumbent mayor, pro-European Dorin Chirtoaca, slightly ahead but without enough votes to win outright, startribune.com informs.

The ballot on Sunday was seen as a test of whether Moldova would remain committed to European integration or choose to move closer to Russia.

With 98.79 percent of the vote counted early Monday, Chirtoaca (photo) had 37.39 percent of the vote and pro-Russian challenger Zinaida Greceanai 35.95 percent. There will be runoffs on June 28 for cities where no candidate secured more than 50 percent of the vote.

Renato Usatii, a pro-Russian businessman, won outright in Moldova’s second-largest city, Balti, taking 73.68 percent of votes. The city in northern Moldova is traditionally pro-Russian.

On the other hand, Deutsche Welle reports that local elections in Moldova have given voters an opportunity to chose the direction for the former Soviet state. The choice appears to have been for closer links with Russia and a step away from EU association.

At just under 49 percent, turnout was lower than for the 2011 local elections. About 2.8 million voters were eligible to choose mayors and local councils. Full results are due later on Monday.

Ahead of Sunday’s vote opinion polls indicated the majority of regional seats would be won by leftist parties that support Moldovan membership of the Moscow-led Customs Union. That would boost wine and food exports to a free-trade zone made up of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

The local elections were held two days after pro-European Prime Minister Chiril Gaburici resigned. He had only been prime minister since February. There had been questions over the authenticity of Gaburici’s school-leaving certificate.

Last week prosecutors said they suspected that a signature and a stamp on two of his school documents had been forged.

The 38-year-old Gaburici had earlier demanded that the prosecutor-general resign, along with top bank officials, after $1 billion (891 million euros) disappeared from three banks: Unibank, Banca Sociala and Banca de Economii. An Israeli-born businessman was placed under house arrest last month in connection with the missing funds.

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