Eastern Europe

Moldova's political drama: New government enters, ex-leader flees

Vladimir Plahotniuc in the capital, Chisinau, last week. Days later, he'd flee the country. Photo: Vadim Denisov\TASS via Getty Images

After refusing to cede power for nearly a week, Moldova’s Democratic party finally surrendered last Friday under international pressure.

How it happened: The party’s leader, oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, fled the country. He’s been accused of presiding over corruption and democratic backsliding. The new government consists of pro-EU and pro-Russia parties and was formed expressly to expel Plahotniuc from power.

Putin might try to swallow up Belarus

Lukashenko (L) and Putin on the ice earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

With Vladimir Putin's presidential mandate expiring in 2024, there's growing speculation he'll try to hold on to power by forming a Russia-Belarus union and placing himself in charge.

Why it matters: It's a distinct possibility given Putin's penchant for using legalistic steps to maintain a semblance of legitimacy. But it's not just about Putin’s job security — the Kremlin is waging a "creeping assault" on its neighbor's sovereignty and will take whatever steps it deems necessary to keep Belarus in its orbit, according to new research discussed today at the German Marshall Fund.