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Moldovan President To Send Soldiers But Will Skip Moscow WW II Parade

Moldovan interim President Mihai Ghimpu
Moldovan interim President Mihai Ghimpu
CHISINAU -- Moldovan interim President Mihai Ghimpu has agreed to send 70 Moldovan soldiers to participate in the May 9 military parade on Moscow's Red Square but will not attend himself, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

The celebrations are to mark the 65th anniversary of the Allied victory ending World War II in Europe.

Ghimpu announced his decision during an interview with a radio station on April 24.

"We would be very grateful to Moscow if the war had only ended fascism, but it also imposed a communist regime by force in our country, and Russia still maintains troops on our territory," Ghimpu said.

Ghimpu says he initially intended to accept the invitation from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to attend the anniversary celebrations in Moscow together with the leaders of other former Soviet republics. But he said he changed his mind when the other coalition partners insisted that Moldova should also send soldiers to participate in the parade.

Prime Minister Vlad Filat and former presidential candidate Marian Lupu say Moldova should attend the events. They also see Moldova's participation as a step toward improving relations between Moscow and the pro-Western majority coalition in Chisinau.

Georgia and the Baltic states have said they will not attend the parade.

The territory of today's Moldova, which was part of a greater Romania from 1918, was annexed by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. During the war, many Moldovan soldiers fought both with the Soviets and in the army of Romania, which was initially an ally of Nazi Germany. Those who served in the Romanian Army were considered "enemies of the people" during the Soviet period.