A senior Moldovan lawmaker has accused Russia of meddling in his country's domestic politics ahead of parliamentary elections later this year.
Parliament speaker Andrian Candu told reporters on February 9 that many officials were concerned that Moscow's interference will increase as the elections draw nearer.
Candu said his country was seeking "only one thing -- mutual respect" in its dealings with Russia, adding that relations should be based on "pragmatic cooperation and the understanding that Moldova is not anyone's slave or vassal state."
Moldova's government of Prime Minister Pavel Filip, which favors closer ties with the EU and the United States, has been at odds with pro-Moscow President Igor Dodon, who is advocating the country's deeper integration with Russia and former Soviet states.
Candu and Filip are both members of the pro-Western Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM).
Moldova's parliament on February 8 adopted a declaration condemning alleged Russian attacks on cybersecurity and accusing Moscow’s secret services of financing Moldovan political parties.
Pro-Russian lawmakers protested the declaration and walked out of the session, with Dodon calling it "the most impulsive anti-Russian message" of the past 25 years.
Moldova's parliament last month passed a law that effectively banned the rebroadcasting of so-called "media propaganda" from Russia, mainly news, military, or political programs.
The country’s Constitutional Court ruled that the government did not need Dodon’s signature to enact the law.
Moldova last year accused Russia's intelligence service of intimidating 25 pro-European politicians and other officials, amid an ongoing probe into a $22 billion money-laundering case involving money sent from Russia to the private Moldinconbank.
"Pressure has been exerted on us," Candu claimed. "Our citizens have been groundlessly detained in Moscow airports. They were officials and ministers, among others. There is no respect.
"We extended our hand and for some reason were slapped in the face in response, extended our hand again and were slapped in the face again. And then we decided that we'd had enough," Candu said.
Relations began to deteriorate in 2014 after Moldova signed an Association Agreement with the European Union, leading Moscow to place an embargo on Moldovan wine, fruit, and vegetables.