Moldova recalls ambassador from Moscow as dispute escalates

The state flag of Moldova (L) flies outside the country's embassy in central Moscow, Russia December 18, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

KIEV/CHISINAU (Reuters) - Moldova recalled its ambassador to Russia for consultations in response to the harassment and intimidation by Russian authorities of Moldovan politicians and officials, the Moldovan foreign ministry said on Monday.

Moldova and Russia have been embroiled in a series of rows this year, including tit-for-tat expulsions of each other’s diplomats in May and Moldova declaring the Russian deputy prime minister persona non grata in August.

The Chisinau government says its officials are being mistreated partly to derail a Moldovan investigation into an alleged Russian-led money laundering operation. Russia has accused Moldova of “some openly anti-Russian actions”.

In announcing the ambassador’s recall, the Moldovan Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website: “We will look for ways to overcome the current situation so that in the future such actions are avoided, which can spoil Moldovan-Russian relations, which the Moldovan side wants to be friendly, trusting and based on respect for each other.”

Ex-Soviet Moldova is politically divided between a pro-Western government, which favors closer integration with the European Union, and Russian-backed President Igor Dodon.

In December the head of Moldova’s ruling party, Vlad Plahotniuc, accused Russian authorities of harassing him and other officials with dozens of bogus legal cases intended to put him on international law enforcement watch lists.

Editing by Mark Heinrich