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Moldova's Pro-Western President Marks 30 Years Of Independence From Soviet Rule

Presidents Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine (left), Klaus Iohannis of Romania, Maia Sandu of Moldova, and Andrzej Duda of Poland in Chisinau.

Moldova’s pro-Western president led the country in celebrating three decades of independence from Soviet rule, vowing to “build a prosperous and free Moldova.”

Moldova is Europe's poorest state and has struggled with rampant corruption and a mass exodus of workers since gaining independence from the Soviet Union on August 27, 1991.

"The main goal now is to bring home Moldovan citizens who were forced to leave in search of a better life," Sandu said at a ceremony in the capital, Chisinau.

About 1 million of a total of 3.5 million Moldovans live abroad, mainly in the European Union.

Sandu, a Harvard-educated economist, has promised to tackle corruption, boost the economy, and chart a pro-European course.

She defeated her Moscow-backed predecessor, Igor Dodon, in a presidential election in November and called a snap election in July to consolidate power in parliament to pursue a reformist agenda.

The 49-year-old told RFE/RL earlier this month that Moldova wants its relations with Russia to be based on pragmatism, but called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the breakaway Transdniester region.

Some 1,400 Russian troops are still stationed in Transdniester, which declared independence from Moldova in 1990, ostensibly to protect Soviet-era arms depots.

The anniversary event was attended by her presidential counterparts from the region: Romania’s Klaus Iohannis, Poland’s Andrzej Duda, and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Iohannis said he supports Moldova’s “process of reform and European integration.”

Based on reporting by AP and dpa