Moldova to ease restrictions on Russian

Andrew Warner reports on steps taken to strengthen Russian language status in Moldova

Parliament of Moldova in Chisinau. Chisinau, Moldova.

Outgoing President of Moldova Igor Dodon is expected to sign a bill aimed at improving Russian-speaking access to the country, according to reports from Russian News Agency TASS. As a former Soviet Republic, Moldova, whose official language is Romanian, has a significant minority of native speakers of Russian.

The Moldovan parliament passed bills that would lift the ban on Russian television broadcasts and strengthen the status of the language by giving Russian speakers the right to access legal communications in Russian. According to TASS, Russian-speaking Moldovans currently have to pay their own court interpreters and legal translators.

Some members of the Romanian press have suggested that while the bill is a clear positive at first glance, it could be seen as a last-ditch attempt to maintain some influence from a lame president. Although Dodon’s Socialist Party maintains a plurality in parliament, it recently lost re-election to Maia Sandu, a member of the center-right Action and Solidarity Party.

“It is essential for us to pass these bills at second reading before the inauguration of the new president, so that I can sign them. It seems to me that the next president will not sign these bills, ”said Dodon, according to TASS.

Since its independence in the 1990s, Moldova has maintained somewhat cold relations with Russia and tensions have mounted between Russian speakers and Romanians in the country. However, Dodon and his party have come under fire for harboring pro-Russian sentiments throughout his tenure as president.

During the Soviet Union, the Cyrillic alphabet was introduced to write the Romanian language (which is traditionally written in Latin script) in Moldova, in order to highlight the historical differences between Moldovans and Romanians. The Romanian language, as spoken and written in Moldova, was also officially called the Moldovan language – this was only reversed in 2013.

Sylvester L. Goldfarb

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