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'Soviet Occupation Day' Causes Rift In Moldova's Ruling Alliance

Moldova's interim President Mihai Ghimpu signed the decree establishing the commemoration.
CHISINAU -- Moldova's acting president has come under fire from the ruling coalition allies and the leftist opposition for ordering a new holiday to mark Moldova's June 1940 annexation from Romania by the Soviet Union, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

Mihai Ghimpu on June 24 signed a decree establishing June 28 as "Soviet occupation day and a day of mourning for the victims of totalitarian communism."

Ghimpu describes himself as a "unionist," meaning he believes Moldovans and Romanians should be together in one nation.

Democrat Party leader Marian Lupu, one of the most popular politicians in the ruling four-party Alliance for European Integration (AIE) said Ghimpu had not consulted his allies before issuing the decree and urged him to cancel it.

Ghimpu's move was also criticized by Justice Minister Alexandru Tanase, vice president of another AIE party led by Prime Minister Vlad Filat.

The opposition communists, which remain the strongest single Moldovan party, blasted Ghimpu's decree and warned it was a veiled attempt to worsen ties with Russia and possibly outlaw the communists.

Moldova, with the exception of the separatist Transdniester region, was part of Romania until World War II.

It was annexed by the Soviets through the Ribentropp-Molotov pact in 1940.

Romania won it back one year later in the German-led attack on the Soviet Union, but at the end of the war it became a Soviet republic.

The Soviet occupation is still considered an act of liberation by some Moldovans who grew up in Soviet times.