April 24, 2020 / 9:30 AM / a month ago

Moldovan leader says Russian loan row risks economic crisis

FILE PHOTO: Moldova's President Igor Dodon addresses the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, January 29, 2020. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler/File Photo

CHISINAU (Reuters) - Moldova’s President on Friday accused the opposition of provoking an economic crisis in the tiny eastern European country by blocking the receipt of a Russian loan.

The Moldovan constitutional court on Thursday blocked the disbursement of a 200 million euro ($214.94 million) loan from Russia that has unleashed a political row in one of poorest European countries.

Squeezed between European Union member Romania and non-EU Ukraine, Moldovan politics tend to divide those who favour closer ties with the West and those who seek a strong alliance with Moscow.

It is seeking external financing to support its economy during the turbulence caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the government expects that the 10-year loan could partially cover this year’s state budget deficit.

“The opposition is worried that Moldova will receive a loan of 200 million euros from Russia. It is not the conditions that concern them, and not some points in the agreement, but the fact that Moldova will receive the money,” Igor Dodon said on an official social media feed.

“They would like to provoke a crisis, bring people to the street and return to power on this wave,” he added.

The opposition says Russia’s motivation in providing the loan is to support pro-Russian President Dodon, who plans to run for a second term in presidential elections later this year.

Serdgiu Sirbu, a lawmaker from the opposition pro-European group Pro-Moldova had petitioned the court to block the loan, after objecting to some of the loan conditions.

The loan agreement had been ratified by the parliament on Thursday, but the court decision to “suspend (the loan agreement) pending a substantive review” makes the date of receipt of the money uncertain as it is unclear when the court will rule on whether the loan is legal or not.

Reporting by Alexander Tanas, writing by Pavel Polityuk; editing by Barbara Lewis

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