Moldova’s Constitutional Court has banned the pro-Russian Shor party and said a wave of anti-government protests led by the group were “unconstitutional”.
Under the court’s decision on Monday, the party is considered dissolved from the moment the ruling was announced.
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Moldova’s justice ministry will also establish a special commission to complete all legal procedures for the party’s liquidation.
Lawmakers from the party will retain their seats in Moldova’s parliament as independents without the right to join other parliamentary factions.
The party’s vice chairwoman, Marina Tauber, condemned the court’s ruling, saying: “We will still come to power with our team. For us, this shameful process is an experience.”
She added that “citizens must have the right to free choice” and promised that Shor will continue its work.
The party was founded in 1998 and is headed by Ilan Shor, a businessman who fled to Israel in 2019.
Two years earlier, he was convicted of fraud in connection with a $1bn bank scandal.
Over the past few months, the party has held demonstrations across Moldova, protesting against the policies of the country’s pro-West leader, Maia Sandu.
Last month, about 4,500 people protested in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, decrying the high cost of living and blaming the government for not supporting its citizens.
One of the protest slogan’s was “We ask the government to pay our bills.”
Sandu’s administration has slammed these rallies as an “another attempt by Russia to destabilise the situation in Moldova” – a claim shared by Ukraine, the United States and other Western nations.
Last month, 75,000 supporters of the Sandu government came out in support of her policies at a demonstration in Chisinau and pushed to amend the constitution to specifically mention the country’s European orientation as Moldova seeks membership in the European Union.
The Shor party, which denies that it is trying to destabilise Moldova, accuses Sandu of trying to lead Moldova into bankruptcy.