In Digest, Europe - East

New Cold, Sept 7, 2015

A number of recent news reports on the political situation in Moldova are enclosed below. Also read ‘Moldova weary of oligarchs’: Interview with Victor Shapinov, Sept 7, 2015.

Demonstrators take to the streets to protest ‘mafia’ government in Moldova

By Alec Luhn, The Guardian, Sept 6, 2015

Protesters fill central square of in front of Moldova National Assembly in Chisinau, Sept 6, 2015 (Dumitru Doru,EPA)

Protesters fill central square of in front of Moldova National Assembly in Chisinau, Sept 6, 2015 (Dumitru Doru,EPA)

Several protesters have been detained after tens of thousands of protesters in Moldova took to the streets of the capital to demand the dissolution of the new government following corruption scandals.

Demonstrators gathered on Great National Assembly Square in downtown Chisinau on Sunday to call for the resignation of the president, Nicolae Timofti, early elections and punishment for those responsible for widespread embezzlement.

Organisers claimed 100,000 people had attended the demonstrations, which were ongoing on Sunday evening, while police put the number at 35,000-40,000. The protest is the largest such action in the former Soviet republic, which has been one of the poorest countries in Europe since its independence movement in the early 1990s.

Clashes broke out with police at the prosecutor general’s headquarters, where activists attempted to set up an occupy-style tent encampment. Opposition leaders have accused the prosecutor general of being an instrument of political persecution. Police detained several activists, several were injured and one woman was hospitalised, news agency Interfax reported.

Tents were set up on the square, with activists tweeting that they intended to stay there until the government was dissolved.

Some Russian and Ukrainian media outlets called the protests a “Maidan”, referring to the colloquial name of the months-long demonstrations in Kiev that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014 and led to a standoff between Russia and the west. Like Ukraine, Moldova has ties to both the EU and Russia, where many of its citizens work, but has moved toward European integration in recent years.

Moldova’s parliament narrowly elected Valeriu Strelet as prime minister in July amid increasing political turbulence. Thousands protested in May after $1bn – equivalent to one eighth of the country’s budget – disappeared from three banks through mysterious loans. The International Monetary Fund and World Bank stopped lending to Moldova after the incident, and the return of the $1bn remains a key demand of the current protests.

Strelet’s government has pledged to move the country toward EU membership and hold those responsible for the bank theft to account, but the opposition movement has accused it of not undertaking reforms in good faith. It also has blamed powerful oligarchs for wielding inordinate influence over the country’s economy and politics.

Strelet was forced to meet with a contact group from the protestors, inviting them to further negotiations and promising to pass along their request to meet with the president.

“Isn’t it the quality of the captive state, ridden with widespread corruption, that’s preventing the current government from applying for EU membership, as they promised during their recent electoral campaign?” civic platform Dignity and Justice, which called Sunday’s demonstrations, said in an appeal for support.

Valentin Dolganiuc, a former MP and one of the protest leaders, declared that the demonstrators “cannot bear the authorities’ mockery of the country” and would seek to kick corrupt oligarchs out of power, reported.

Among the other demands voiced by protestors were judicial reform, greater media freedom, the dismissal of the heads of numerous government agencies, and the cancellation of recent electricity and gas rate hikes.

Other groups also joined in the demonstrations. Supporters of the far left party Red Bloc marched through central Chisinau, stopping at the home of oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc before arriving at the prosecutor general’s headquarters and attempting to break through [sic] a police cordon, sparking clashes there.

Footage from the scene showed demonstrators waving Moldovan, Romanian and EU flags while chanting “Resign!”, “We are the people!” and “Down with the mafia!”.

Regional pop musicians have also been drawn into the standoff between protestors and the government. On Thursday, a free open-air concert in Chisinau was announced in a move that many saw as an attempt to draw people away from the planned anti-oligarch protest. Several Moldovan, Romanian and Russian performers refused to attend what many had dubbed a “mafia concert”.

Moldova: Two separate protests, two different agendas!

By Greg Butterfield, Red Star Over Donbass, September 6, 2015

There is serious confusion about the protests in Chisinau, Moldova, today. There were two different protests — one well financed, by groups waving EU flags; another, completely separate, by genuine antifascist forces led by the communist Red Bloc. The second protest was attacked by police and several leading comrades were arrested on the steps of the General Prosecutors Office.

Unfortunately, some reports, including the usually authoritative Colonel Cassad, imply that BOTH are part of a new Maidan in Moldova (or rather that they are one and the same protest). This is dangerous since the anti-fascist, Red Bloc comrades are under serious attack from the pro-Ukrainian, pro-Maidan forces in Moldova, and deserve our solidarity.

For example, the photos and videos posted by Cassad here are mostly from the second, anti-fascist protest, NOT the pro-Maidan, pro-EU event, as the text suggests. Among those you can see being arrested are Grigory Petrenko, leader of the Red Bloc (formerly Our Home Moldova), who has been under attack as a “Russian agent” by the pro-Maidan government and oligarchy in Chisinau.

The Red Bloc party is a friend to Transnistria and the Donbass people’s republics. Two other anti-fascists reported arrested today–Pavel Grigorchuk and Mikhail Amerberg– were held as political prisoners by the pro-EU regime in Moldova for several months earlier this year.

Last week, on August 31, there were two protests in Kiev — the fascist rally at the Rada, and a smaller anti-war, anti-fascist protest at the City Hall. Completely separate protests, with completely different agendas. We would not confuse them in Kiev and we should not confuse them in Chisinau.

Read also:
Riot police attack anti-austerity protesters in Chisinau, Moldova, Red Star Over Donbass, September 6, 2015
‘The police provoked a scuffle in front of the Prosecutor General’s Office in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, in which several people were hospitalized…’

Protest leader Grigory Petrenko illegally detained in Moldova, Red Star Over Donbass, September 6, 2015
‘Former MP, honorary member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, leader of the team conducting protests against the Plahotniuc and the oligarchs who’ve captured the state, Grigory Petrenko, was pulled out from the heart of the protest on Sunday, September 6th…’

‘Plahotniuc can’t break us’: Moldovan communist leader after arrest, Red Star Over Donbass, September 6, 2015
‘Former MP and honorary member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Grigory Petrenko*, who was arrested during an anti-oligarchy protest in Chisinau on Sunday, September 6, made his first statement to the press…’

Transnistria celebrates 25th anniversary of the republic, by Ekaterina Bogataya, Red Star Over Donbass, September 4, 2015


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