CHISINAU -- Thousands of people demonstrated in Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, on June 24 to protest the nullification of mayoral election results that had shown a victory for a pro-Western candidate.
Protesters carried Moldovan and European Union flags while marching through the streets of Chisinau, chanting: "Thieves!" and "They stole my vote!"
The demonstration was organized after a Moldovan appeals court on June 21 upheld a lower court ruling issued two days earlier that invalidated the results of Chisinau's mayoral election, citing violations by both candidates of the country's campaign laws.
The results of the June 3 run-off election had shown Andrei Nastase, an anti-corruption activist and pro-EU politician, with 52.5 percent of the vote – enough to defeat Socialist Party candidate Ion Ceban, who has called for closer relations with Russia.
The initial court ruling on June 19 voided the election results on the grounds that both candidates had addressed voters on social media on election day, after the legal end of campaigning.
The appeals court upheld the ruling, saying social media communications with voters illegally affected the outcome of the race.
Nastase contends that neither he nor Ceban campaigned about their political platforms on election day, saying they had merely called on voters to go out and cast their ballots.
Nastase and critics of the court ruling point out decisions by other European courts that a simple call to vote on election day does not constitute illegal campaigning.
Nastase, insisting that the Moldovan court decisions were politically motivated, has vowed to appeal to Moldova's Supreme Court.
The nullification of the Chisinau election has been criticized by the EU and the United States.