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World News

Russia vows support for Moldovan leader, promises cash

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Monday threw its weight behind Moldova’s outgoing President Vladimir Voronin who will oversee an early parliamentary election next month and said it could lend $500 million to the crisis-hit ex-Soviet nation.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) shakes hands with his Moldovan counterpart Vladimir Voronin at the Kremlin in Moscow, June 22, 2009. REUTERS/Yuri Kadobnov/Pool

Voronin, in office since 2001 and who cannot run for a third term, dissolved parliament last week and called an early election for July 29 after deputies twice failed to elect a new president, lacking just one vote to approve his candidate.

His Communists finished far ahead in an April parliamentary election, but the outcome sparked violent protests by young people angry at the prospect of the party remaining in power.

“Of course, I would like to tell you that we supported and support the measures taken by Moldova’s leadership to restore constitutional order,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Voronin during their meeting in the Kremlin.

“These are difficult times now, very difficult from the economic point of view. We should give it some thought and decide what else needs to be undertaken to develop trade and economic ties at a time of crisis.”

Voronin, who has improved ties with Moscow and intends to play a key role in politics even after stepping down, accused his opponents of launching a coup d’etat, and accused Romania, which has strong cultural and historic links with Moldova, of fomenting the violence.

“I am very grateful that in these hard days of political uncertainty and attempts to destabilise our country ... Russia was the first and probably the only country that advocated Moldova’s lawfully elected authorities,” Voronin told Medvedev.

PUTIN

Russia watched with unease pro-Western and pro-NATO leaders propelled to power in Ukraine and Georgia after after demonstrations Moscow said were sponsored by the West.

“We should call a spade a spade ... they aimed to carry out a ‘coloured revolution’ in our country, but I believe our coordinated actions and your unambiguous position should discourage the organisers from any such plans,” Voronin said.

“This had nothing to do with a people’s revolution. This was an organised group of hirelings who ... attempted to carry out this coup d’etat.”

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said last week that Moldova’s authorities had failed to address opposition allegations of vote-rigging and that it had credible reports about mistreatment of detainees after the protests.

In another gesture of Moscow’s support for Voronin, Russia’s powerful Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised sizeable financial assistance to Europe’s poorest nation.

“We are considering your request to extend to Moldova a state credit of $0.5 billion. We consider this possible,” Putin said at a meeting Voronin later on Monday.

Putin said the first tranche worth $150 million could be disbursed within one a half or two months. He gave no further detail or conditions of the loan.

The IMF said in a report earlier this month it was prepared to provide aid to Moldova, whose economy is expected to shrink sharply this year, though it said assistance could be granted once a new government was installed in the country.

Moldova, a country of 4.3 million sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania, has been hard hit by the global financial crisis, reducing by one third the vital remittances sent home by hundreds of thousands of its nationals working abroad.

Additional reporting by Darya Korsunskaya

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