Moldova's pro-Russia President Igor Dodon has proposed a new flag for his country that would eliminate similarities the current banner has with the flag and coat of arms of neighboring Romania.
Dodon said on February 2, Moldova's statehood day, that he wants lawmakers and civil society to discuss the idea and come up with legislative proposals "in the weeks or months ahead."
Legal experts conclude that changing Moldova's national flag would require parliamentary legislation that is unlikely to be approved by the current ruling coalition.
That's because the three parties in the pro-European Union governing coalition control a majority of parliament's 101 seats while Dodon's supporters in the Socialist Party of The Republic of Moldova (PSRM) control only 25 seats.
Meanwhile, critics of Dodon's plan say it is part of his broader efforts to steer Moldova away from a course toward the EU membership that Romania has already achieved.
Dodon's supporters in the PSRM have used the flag that he proposes at public demonstrations and gatherings in the past.
That banner -- which Dodon claims is based on a flag from Moldovan history -- features a solid red background instead of the current blue, yellow, and red tricolor shared by both the Moldovan and Romanian flags.
Historians say the tricolors of the current flags of Moldova and Romania reflect a common heritage dating back long before the late 19th century when the lands of present-day Moldova formed part of the Kingdom of Romania.
The Moldovan Flag (file photo)
Dodon's proposal also would remove the eagle from Moldova's flag -- a symbol that is similar on the coat of arms of both Moldova and Romania.
Instead, the new design suggested by Dodon would retain the head of an ox, a star, a flower, and a crescent from Moldova's coat of arms.
That imagery has long been a symbol of the historic principality of Moldavia -- a region dating back to the 14th century composed of territories that now form parts of Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine.
The design that Igor Dodon has proposed for Moldova's national flag.
Valentin Constantinov, a historian at Moldova's Academy of Sciences, told RFE/RL that Dodon's claims are a "gross manipulation" of history aimed at serving his political agenda.
Dodon has promised to strengthen Moldova's ties with Moscow -- vowing to join the Russia-dominated Eurasian Economic Union.
Since his inauguration in late December, he has taken other steps seen as part of an attempt to steer the country off its path toward membership in the EU, of which Romania is a member.
On January 3, Dodon stripped former Romanian President Traian Basescu of his recently acquired Moldovan citizenship -- declaring that Basescu had obtained it illegally.
Basescu, while president of Romania from 2004 to 2014, had pushed for Moldova to reunite with Romania and move closer to the EU.
With reporting by RFE/RL's Moldovan Service