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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moldovans Get Ready For Election

KISHINYOV, Moldova -- The former Soviet republic of Moldova holds elections on Sunday that seem likely to deal a blow to nationalists in their bid for union with neighboring Romania.

Thirteen parties as well as 20 independent candidates have registered for the polls, called last October after a tug-of-war between feuding factions in the old Soviet-era legislature had effectively paralysed it.

The nationalist Popular Front has remained persistent in its campaign in demanding reunification with its ethnically related neighbor Romania.

"Every threat to this country comes from the East, from Russia," it declares in its program published in local newspapers.

"The threat to our state comes from attempts to force it into every kind of imperial structure like the Commonwealth and from the millions who supported a revival of the Russian empire," it said in a reference to the electoral success of nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky in December's Russian polls.

But the reunification drive has met strong resistance from a 1.5 million-strong Russian-speaking population, many of whom fear becoming second-grade citizens in a Romanian state. The predominantly Russian Denstr region has declared independence from Kishinyov, sparking a conflict in the region in which hundreds have died.

A public opinion poll held by an independent sociological service earlier this month suggested the Popular Front can count on at most 25 percent of the 104-seat legislature.

The election front runner is the Agrarian Democratic Party, or ADP, which insists that Moldova should remain an independent state with close relations with both Romania and Russia.

Spearheaded by Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli and the chairman of the old parliament Pyotr Luchinsky, the ADP favors Moldova's close participation in the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The poll shows that the ADP, sympathetic to President Mircea Snegur is likely to become the single biggest faction with some 32 percent of seats.