CHISINAU, Moldova—Two opposition leaders have accused Moldovan authorities of poisoning them, drawing a rapid denial from the ruling party, just days before a parliamentary election that threatens to tip the east European country back into crisis.
Maia Sandu and Andrei Nastase said doctors had discovered heavy metals in their blood. The two have joined forces to campaign against the ruling Democratic Party ahead of the Feb. 24 vote and accuse its leadership of rampant corruption.
“Suspicions arise, and against the background of the attitude of the current government to those whom they think are dangerous, this case should be taken seriously,” Sandu said.
“The authorities want our deaths,” Nastase added.
A spokesman for the pro-Western Democratic Party rubbished the allegation and said “strange accusations are heard in the last few days and are becoming more and more fantastic.”
“Unfortunately, the election campaign in Moldova has sometimes exceeded common sense,” said the spokesman, Vitalie Gamurari.
The election pits the Democratic Party, which heads the current government and denies corruption allegations, against the Socialists, who favor closer ties to Russia.
Nastase and Sandu’s ACUM bloc oppose both these main parties, and on Feb. 21 signed a pledge not to enter into a coalition with them in case of a hung parliament.
The election threatens to entrench a split in the country between pro-Western and pro-Russian forces at a time when concerns over corruption and democracy have soured its relations with the European Union.
Opinion polls suggest no party will win an outright majority, which could set the scene for months of coalition talks or another election.
Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest countries, which is squeezed between Ukraine and EU member state Romania, plunged into political crisis in 2014-2015 after $1 billion was pilfered from three banks.
The scandal tarnished the image of pro-Western forces in the country, which the European Parliament last year declared “a state captured by oligarchic interests.”
By Alexander Tanas