CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Moldovan authorities said they have stopped Russia's deputy prime minister from leaving the country with a petition calling on Moscow to recognize a separatist region, but he claimed Sunday he had delivered most of the signatures supporting it.
Dmitry Rogozin visited the separatist province of Trans-Dniester, where 1,500 Russian troops are stationed, to celebrate Victory Day on Friday. He offered support to separatists and criticized Moldova's government for seeking closer ties with the European Union.
Moldova's Foreign Ministry said late Saturday that authorities confiscated boxes of signatures from Rogozin at Chisinau airport and would analyze the material.
Rogozin, however, said on his Facebook page that Moldovan officials "only got a small part" of the signatures.
"We have taken due care of the bulk of the cargo," he said, adding that what he called a Moldovan "provocation" will have "serious consequences" for bilateral ties.
Rogozin is one of the senior Russian officials sanctioned by the EU and the U.S. to punish Moscow for annexing the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Russia opposes the former Soviet republic seeking an association agreement with the EU, which it hopes to sign this year.
Trans-Dniester, which borders Ukraine, broke away from Moldova in 1990 and is not internationally recognized, but is supported by Russia.
Romania protested comments by Rogozin saying it had closed its airspace to his plane at the request of the U.S. "Next time I'll fly on board a TU-160," he said in a tweet, referring to a Soviet-era strategic bomber.