Europe

Pro-Russia candidate favorite in Moldova presidential runoff

  • A flower vendor stands back dropped by a large poster of socialist presidential candidate Igor Dodon, placed on an apartment block, which reads in Russian and Romanian "We will win and it will be better in Moldova" in Chisinau, Moldova, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Moldovans will directly elect their president on Sunday for the first time in 20 years the favorite is Socialist Igor Dodon, who wants the ex-Soviet republic to return to the Russian orbit, while rival Maia Sandu believes the agricultural nation of 3.5 million, bordering Ukraine and European Union member Romania, would secure a more prosperous future in Europe. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

    A flower vendor stands back dropped by a large poster of socialist presidential candidate Igor Dodon, placed on an apartment block, which reads in Russian and Romanian "We will win and it will be better in Moldova" in Chisinau, Moldova, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Moldovans will directly elect their president on Sunday for the first time in 20 years the favorite is Socialist Igor Dodon, who wants the ex-Soviet republic to return to the Russian orbit, while rival Maia Sandu believes the agricultural nation of 3.5 million, bordering Ukraine and European Union member Romania, would secure a more prosperous future in Europe. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)  (The Associated Press)

  • A flower vendor stands back dropped by a large poster of socialist presidential candidate Igor Dodon, placed  displayed on an apartment block, which reads in Russian and Romanian "We will win and it will be better in Moldova" in Chisinau, Moldova, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Moldovans will directly elect their president on Sunday for the first time in 20 years the favorite is Socialist Igor Dodon, who wants the ex-Soviet republic to return to the Russian orbit, while rival Maia Sandu believes the agricultural nation of 3.5 million, bordering Ukraine and European Union member Romania, would secure a more prosperous future in Europe. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

    A flower vendor stands back dropped by a large poster of socialist presidential candidate Igor Dodon, placed displayed on an apartment block, which reads in Russian and Romanian "We will win and it will be better in Moldova" in Chisinau, Moldova, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Moldovans will directly elect their president on Sunday for the first time in 20 years the favorite is Socialist Igor Dodon, who wants the ex-Soviet republic to return to the Russian orbit, while rival Maia Sandu believes the agricultural nation of 3.5 million, bordering Ukraine and European Union member Romania, would secure a more prosperous future in Europe. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)  (The Associated Press)

  • A child walks holding a campaign poster of socialist presidential candidate Igor Dodon, after ripping it from a wall, in Chisinau, Moldova, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Moldovans will directly elect their president on Sunday for the first time in 20 years the favorite is Socialist Igor Dodon, who wants the ex-Soviet republic to return to the Russian orbit, while rival Maia Sandu believes the agricultural nation of 3.5 million, bordering Ukraine and European Union member Romania, would secure a more prosperous future in Europe.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

    A child walks holding a campaign poster of socialist presidential candidate Igor Dodon, after ripping it from a wall, in Chisinau, Moldova, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Moldovans will directly elect their president on Sunday for the first time in 20 years the favorite is Socialist Igor Dodon, who wants the ex-Soviet republic to return to the Russian orbit, while rival Maia Sandu believes the agricultural nation of 3.5 million, bordering Ukraine and European Union member Romania, would secure a more prosperous future in Europe.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)  (The Associated Press)

Moldovans have begun voting in a presidential election that could restore ties with Russia or move the former Soviet republic closer to Europe.

The favorite to win Sunday's runoff is Igor Dodon, a pro-Moscow figure who has tapped into popular anger with corruption under the pro-European government that came to power in 2009.

He has promised to restore friendly relations with Moscow and has recently hedged his bets, saying he also seeks good relations with Moldova's neighbors Romania and Ukraine.

Rival Maia Sandu, an ex-World Bank economist has run on an anti-corruption ticket. Many are angry about $1 billion that went missing from the Moldovan banks before 2014 parliamentary elections.

Both Russia and the West seek greater influence over the strategically placed, but impoverished agricultural country of 3.5 million.