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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Voronin Says Romania Attempted to Oust Him

CHISINAU, Moldova -- Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin accused neighboring Romania on Wednesday of trying to overthrow his government and ordered mass arrests of protesters.

Moscow backed his allegation of foreign interference, but Romania, a NATO and EU member, rejected Voronin's words as a "provocation."

Western powers urged all sides to keep calm and avoid a repeat of Tuesday's post-election riots in which one person died, more than 270 people were injured and 193 were arrested.

The European Union said it was deeply concerned about escalating tensions. "It is particularly important that there should be proper respect for freedom of the media and freedom of expression," the EU Czech Presidency said in a statement.

Opposition parties called off further rallies after the violence that erupted during protests by 10,000 people against the victory of the ruling Communist Party in weekend parliamentary elections.

Riot police rounded up protesters after clearing them from the president's office -- from whose roof they had waved Moldovan, Romanian and EU flags -- and from the parliament building, which they had set on fire.

Late Wednesday, about 1,500 people remained outside the government building, which was guarded by dozens of riot police.

Vlad, a student demonstrating there, said the protest was an act of desperation against Communist rule in Moldova, Europe's poorest country.

"The election was a huge deception. We are protesting because there is no other solution. I am 20 now and have no future in this country," he said.

"It was the nation standing up, it was a revolution and it is continuing here. Young people were standing up by themselves. No one told them to do that," he said.

Voronin accused Romania of masterminding the disturbances and said he was expelling Romania's ambassador and introducing visas for Romanians.

"When the flag of Romania was raised on state buildings, the attempts of the opposition to carry out a coup became clear," Voronin said.

Moldovans are split between those wanting closer ties or even reunification with Romania and those for maintaining what are also long-standing links with Russia.

The Romanian Foreign Ministry said it was unacceptable that "the Communist power in Chisinau transfers responsibility for the Moldovan Republic's domestic problems onto Romania."

Voronin won strong backing from Russia, which said the riots were aimed at undermining Moldova's sovereignty.

Opposition leaders condemned Tuesday's violence but demanded new elections. Vlad Filat, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats, accused the government of going back on an earlier pledge to hold a recount and forecast "some very serious repression."