March 20, 2018 / 1:56 PM / 7 months ago

Moldova will send its ambassador back to Russia soon

CHISINAU (Reuters) - Moldova said on Tuesday its ambassador to Russia would return soon to Moscow a few months after his recall in response to alleged harassment and intimidation of Moldovan politicians and officials by Russian authorities.

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

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

Ambassador Andrei Negutsa, who will return to Russia in the coming days, has been consulting with the Moldovan authorities on the outlook for relations with Moscow, Foreign Minister Tudor Ulianovschi told a meeting.

“We discussed the whole range of bilateral, Moldova-Russia ties, which in recent times have been going through a difficult period,” Ulianovschi said. “I focused on the need to reject pressure from the Russian side on Moldovan citizens and officials visiting Russia.”

Last year the Chisinau government said its officials were 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”.

The Moldovan ambassador was recalled in December.

Since his election in late 2016, President Dodon’s pro-Russia stance has caused frequent clashes with the government, which has sought to curb his efforts to undermine Moldova’s bid to move closer towards Europe.

Reporting by Alexander Tanas; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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