Riots broke out in Moldova — a former Soviet republic between Ukraine and Romania — as thousands protested the Communist party’s victory in parliamentary elections, claiming the results were falsified. One woman was killed and at least 100 were injured after the protests turned violent, with people surrounding the president’s residence, burning furniture and throwing rocks.
The Communist party was voted into power in 2001, a decade after Moldova declared independence. Though Communist President Vladimir Voronin is due to step down in May, the Communist parliamentary majority means that the party will be able to choose a new leader.
Blogger Julien Frisch writes about the protests’ motivations:
I see great disappointment among my Moldovan friends, disappointment over these election results that have confirmed an autocratic government that is massively favoured by the public newscaster, the only TV and Radio that can be received by all citizens in the Republic of Moldova.
[...]I just received a text message from Moldova telling me that a demonstration against Sunday’s election results that started this morning at 10 am has turned violent. Stones are flying towards the Parliament and the Presidential Palace. Police reacts with water cannons.
Guest blogger “Dorina” at “Kosmopolito” writes from Moldova describing the protests, adding that news has spread quickly over the Internet (a phenomenon which led one blogger at Foreign Policy to call the conflict a “Twitter Revolution“):
Most of the people found out about this initiative through different internet channels - blogs, forums and especially facebook. People got surprised and enthusiastic to see that more than thousand of participants came at first and in the next hour there were already 10,000 of them. After lighting candles at the monument of the national historic leader of all Moldovan people, young people went to the Parliament shouting "Down with the communists!", "Better dead then communist!", "I refuse, I resist! I am anti-communist!", "Freedom!", "Down with the censorship!", "We want repeated voting!" Later on, the leaders of the opposition parties adhered to the cause of the protesters. From 6 pm till around 10 pm the long line of 10,000 people have stopped by all the important points: the Presidency, that faces the Parliament of the Republic, the Government and the Electoral Central Commission - all of this abide to the communist government and consider themselves democratic, open to the public institutions. On Monday the protest went on really peacefully and people were only cheering and singing, protesting against the communists that are ruling.
Watch a video from YouTube user dorina20md of protests:
The “Scraps of Moscow” blog summarizes what the Moldovan blogosphere is saying (as many Moldovan bloggers write in Romanian) and translates a post from Moldovan blogger Nicu Popescu suggesting a way forward:
My suggestion is that the EU should promote a "new deal" between the government and the opposition that could include some of the following elements.
- recount of the votes with strong international monitoring, and the recognition of the re-counted votes by the opposition.
- the dismissal of the the minister of interior who has been central to many pre-electoral abuses and harrassment of the opposition and the media. the new minister of interior should be appointed by after consensus between the government and the opposition.
- initiating a process of police reform under the supervision of EU advisors, possibly extending the mandate of the EU Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine.
- Vladimir Voronin, the incumbent president (at the end of his second term) should respect the Moldovan constitution and retire from politics after his second term with guarantees for future immunity from prosecution. The Communist party elects a new leader, who might enjoy a majority in the parliament. There might be a Communist government (if the recount confirms their victory), but without Voronin.
- The broadcasting licenses of existing independent media, particulaly PRO TV (the only TV channel independent from the government) should be extended. A decision on that is pending.
Some of the protesters voiced their desire for reunification with Romania, shouting ”We are Romanians!” Commenter “Mihai” explains Moldova’s political background and compares the current unrest to Ukraine’s Orange Revolution:
Moldova follows in the path open by Ukraine and Georgia, where communists won the election after censoring free media, abusing power, limiting the access to trusty sources of information, and manipulating the poor population. What's more here, is that Moldovans are in fact Romanians, since Moldova was broken apart from Romania, and occupied by Russia in WWII. During the today's protests Moldovans shouted "We are Romanians" and asked for Moldova and Romania to unite in one country. Communists at Chisinau pretend that Moldovans are are a nation, when in reality Moldova is just a region of Romania, just like Provence is in France, or Bavaria is in Germany. The historical region of Moldova is split in two today, one part within Romania, and one part in the Republic of Moldova. Claiming that Moldovans are a nation is one of the strategies employed by communists in Chisinau to brain-wash the population. Their language is Romanian, the Moldovan culture is in fact Romanian culture, and so on. The national anthem was the same as Romania's until the communists changed it a few years ago. The national flag is the same as Romania's, the history, writers, songs, are the same.
[...]The young generation from today has access to more information sources, many of them went to study in Romania and had the chance to find out the truth about the history of Moldova and Romania. They are now asking for what in fact was taken from their parents by force: Romanian citizenship, and a life within the border of their parents and granparents' country.