"Although a small country, Moldova has been of interest to U.S. policymakers due to its position between NATO and EU member Romania and strategic Ukraine. In addition, some experts have expressed concern about alleged Russian efforts to extend its hegemony over Moldova through various methods, including a troop presence, manipulation of Moldova's relationship with its breakaway Transnistria region, and energy supplies and other trading links. Moldova's political and economic weakness has made it a source of organized criminal activity of concern to U.S. policymakers, including trafficking in persons and weapons. Moldova is a parliamentary democracy that has held largely free and fair elections since achieving independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. In the most recent parliamentary elections on March 6, 2005, the Communist Party of Moldova (CPM) won a majority of 56 seats in the 101-seat parliament. The Democratic Moldova Bloc (DMB), an alliance of small centrist groups, won 34 seats. The nationalist and pro-Romanian Christian Democratic Popular Party won 11 seats. Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that the vote was carried out generally in line with international standards, but they criticized the election campaign for biased electronic media coverage, misuse of government resources in favor of the CPM, and harassment of opposition candidates and non-governmental organizations."
CRS Report for Congress, RS21981