CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has strongly backed Moldova's new coalition government, which has been locked in a power struggle with a rival group amid a surge in political tensions in the ex-Soviet nation.

In an interview with the Mir television station in Russia, Putin on Thursday lashed out at the previous Moldovan government which has refused to cede power to the new authorities creating a political deadlock.

The new coalition government in Moldova includes the pro-Russia party of President Igor Dodon and the pro-Europe ACUM group, while the previous authorities are dominated by the Democratic Party, controlled by powerful oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc.

Putin says "we are certainly supporting President Dodon" and his coalition who want to "get rid of those people who have usurped power in Moldova."

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