CHISINAU -- Moldova's opposition Communist Party has asked the government to stop investigating Soviet-era crimes in exchange for support to change the way the country's president is elected, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.
Communist leader Vladimir Voronin said at a press conference in Chisinau today that the Commission for the Evaluation of Communism -- which was created by acting President Mihai Ghimpu -- wants to ban the name and the communist symbols currently used by Voronin's party in an effort to undermine its chances in the next election.
Commission members have said they would only study Moldova's Soviet past, not its post-Soviet Communist governments.
The commission's findings, which are due to be published next month, will be nonbinding.
But Voronin, who was Moldova's president from 1999-2009, suggested today that the commission might have a hidden political agenda.
He warned that any attempt to force his party to remove the word "communist" from its name would amount to a "coup d'etat."
Ghimpu told RFE/RL today in response to Voronin's offer that he will not disband the commission. He said there is no connection between an assessment of the country's Soviet past and its current political woes.
The Communists remain Moldova's most popular party, although they were defeated in repeat elections last year by a coalition of four largely pro-Western parties.
The opposition Communist Party and the ruling Alliance for European Integration have been embroiled for months in a dispute over the way Moldova's president is elected.
The country has been without an elected president for almost a year, mainly because of the high majority (three-fifths of the vote) required in parliament for the election of a new head of state.
An all-party meeting today in Chisinau failed to resolve the deadlock, as both the Communists and the ruling parties stuck to their own proposals for changing the election procedure.