Staunton, March 23 – In a race in which none of the ten candidates took an anti-Russian position, Irina Vlah, the one who most explicitly supported Moscow in general and Vladimir Putin in particular and who was in turn openly backed by Moscow, has been elected head of Gagauzia, the Turkic autonomous region in Moldova.
According to reports, the former communist received 53.21 percent of the votes in yesterday’s election, far more than her nearest rival, former Comrat mayor Nicolae Dudoglo, who received 18.2 percent, and has already been congratulated by the incumbent Gagauz bashkan (sputniknews.com/europe/20150323/1019868791.html).
During the campaign, Vlah was backed by the opposition Socialist Party and by Russian pop artists and the appearance of six Duma deputies. In her speeches, she called for Gagauzia to adopt a “Eurasian” direction as opposed to the European one that Moldova has already chosen. And her rallies featured Russian flags (turkist.org/2015/03/irina-vlah.html).
Chisinau complained about this Russian interference in Moldova’s internal affairs, and some in Moldova and Moscow speculated that the Russian government might have overplayed its hand and actually cost Vlah votes. But in the end, she won and in a convincing manner that makes a second round unnecessary (regnum.ru/news/polit/1907554.html).
Moldovan analysts say that Moscow wants to “transform Gagauzia into a Russian enclave” and use it as leverage against Chisinau. One of them said Moscow hopes to use Vlah and the Gagauz to divide and weaken Moldovan society and to coordinate what happens in Comrat with what happens in Transdniestria (turkist.org/2015/03/gagauzia.html).
That has been a strategy Moscow has sought to employ in the past. Vlah’s victory gives Moscow even more possibilities to conduct it.