Russia has promised to lift all the sanctions against Moldovans who illegally entered the country, provided they leave Russia before the end of the year and return no sooner than February 24, deschide.md reported, quoting a decision by the Russian interior ministry. The sanctions already issued against illegal Moldovan residents will be cancelled.
Moldova will hold parliamentary elections on February 24, and Moscow is understood to be keen for pro-Russian President Igor Dodon’s Socialists to win the election against the incumbent coalition or the pro-EU opposition. Polls indicate the Socialists will receive nearly half the seats in parliament, with the pro-EU parties not forming a single bloc.
The Russian decision was taken “in accordance with the request of the President of Moldova, Igor Dodon”, the Russian ministry specified without explaining what Dodon had asked for: pardoning the Moldovans, or sending Moldovans back home exactly during the parliamentary elections.
Dodon is actively campaigning for his Socialist Party, despite rules that forbid his involvement as president in the electoral campaign.
Dodon said in a Facebook post that some 170,000 Moldovans might benefit from Russia’s decision. There are 3.25mn Moldovan citizens with valid voting rights, but only 2.83mn are assigned to electoral precincts, with the rest of them having no residence declared (most likely living abroad).