Moldova's top court had upheld a decision to bar a pro-Russian party from competing in this weekend's elections on the grounds that it illegally received funding from abroad.

The Supreme Court on Saturday rejected an appeal for the Patria party to run in Sunday's elections. Party founder Renato Usatii, who has done business with Russian Railways, fled Moldova Friday, saying he feared arrest by the country's pro-European authorities. Border police said he caught an early flight to Moscow.

The former Soviet republic of less than 4 million is torn between moving closer to Europe or back into Russia's orbit. Pro-European parties are slightly ahead in polls, although two pro-Russia parties remain in the race. Patria was polling at about 13 percent.