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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Transdnestr Frees Political Prisoner After 15 Years

TIGHINA, Moldova -- Andrei Ivantoc, a political prisoner who was jailed for 15 years on charges of terrorism in Moldova's separatist republic of Transdnestr, was released over the weekend after serving his term.

Ivantoc, 46, was driven in a militia truck to the border with the rest of Moldova by Transdnestr authorities, freed and expelled Saturday. After he was released, he tried to return to the separatist republic but was stopped by separatist authorities.

He was later forcibly bundled into a car, in which his wife, Eudochia, and Moldova's deputy minister for reintegration, Ion Stavila, were also traveling. The car set off for the Moldovan capital. No statements were made, and there was no immediate explanation for his action.

Some 50 people came to greet Ivantoc, carrying roses and wild flowers to Tighina, a border town some 60 kilometers southeast of Chisinau.

Among them was Alexandru Lesco, who was one of four people who were imprisoned on terrorist charges in Transdnestr in 1992. Lesco was freed in 2004 after serving a 12-year term.

The leader of the Popular Moldovan Front, Ilie Ilascu, was released in 2001 and moved to Romania. He is now a lawmaker with the ultranationalist Greater Romania party.

The remaining prisoner, Tudor Petrov-Popa, is due to be released in two days.

The European Court for Human Rights in 2005 ordered the separatists, Moldova and Russia to free Ivantoc and Petrov-Popa, and ordered Moldova and Russia -- which backs Transdnestr -- to pay the four a total of $1,007,700 in compensation for the deprivation of their freedom, torture and inhumane treatment while in custody.