Anti-communist protesters storm Moldova parliament after election - The Guardian

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Anti-communist protesters storm Moldova parliament after election - The Guardian

Mesaj Scris de basaru la data de Sam 11 Apr 2009 - 20:22

Anti-communist protesters storm Moldova parliament after election

Violent protests in Chisinau after ruling communists return to power in Moldova

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guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 7 April 2009 16.24 BST

Protesters in Moldova stormed the country's parliament today, smashing windows and hurling tables and chairs out onto the street, in a violent protest against Sunday's elections which saw the ruling communists returned to power.

Anti-communist demonstrators poured into the building and heaped whatever they found onto the street. They set fire to paper, computers, and furniture. A small group also broke into the president's office - as police using tear gas and water canons tried to drive them back.

At least 10,000 protesters gathered outside the parliament building in the capital, Chisinau. The young crowd carried EU, Moldovan and Romanian flags and shouted slogans including: "Down with communism!" "Freedom!" and "We want Europe!" Others demanded the unification of Moldova and Romania.

Today's protests came two days after an election commission confirmed that the Communist party under president Vladimir Voronin had comfortably won the elections. According to official results, the party won about 49.9 per cent. Opposition leaders in Moldova have dismissed the poll as fraudulent and are demanding a new vote.

"The protests are justified because people did not vote for the communists in such large numbers," Chisinau's mayor Dorin Chirtoaca told Realitatea TV. He added: "The elections were fraudulent, there was multiple voting ... These are people who don't know what democracy is."

"The election was controlled by the communists, they bought everyone off," Alexei, a student, told Reuters. "We will have no future under the communists because they just think of themselves." At least 30 people were hurt in today's clashes, which also saw students hijack fire engines and drive them away.

Today's demonstrations come amid growing tensions inside Moldova, a tiny post-Soviet micro-state wedged between Ukraine and Romania. Despite some economic progress under the communists who have been in power since 2001, Moldova remains the poorest country in Europe.

Some 600,000 Moldovans have left to find work in the EU. The country's provinces largely support the pro-Russian communists. But the Chisinau strongly favours the more western-orientated opposition, who want free market polices and closer ties with the EU and Nato.

Today one analyst said the uprising in Moldova was similar to the 2004 pro-western Orange Revolution in next-door Ukraine. He added, however, that the protests were unjustified since western observers had confirmed the communists as legitimate winners of Sunday's election, and had certified the poll as fair.

"This is an active attempt by a small minority to take power," Vladimir Zharikhin, deputy director of the Moscow Institute for the Study of Post-Soviet Countries said. "The result was in line with exit polls and preliminary studies."

He added: "The majority of Moldovans don't see any alternative to the communists. In reality the communists are not believers in Marxism-Leninism but are right-wing social democrats. We now have a meeting of forces in Moldova."

President Vladimir Voronin's office said the president would make a statement later this evening, the Associated Press reported. It was not clear whether he was inside the presidential office when students burst in, pelting his workplace with eggs, stones and bottles.

Voronin is due to step down this month after serving the legal maximum of two terms in power. But he has indicated he intends to play an influential role in politics and will take another government job, possibly as parliamentary speaker. The opposition want him to leave the country.

The only foreign leader to congratulate Moldova after the elections was Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev. The communists have enjoyed close relations with Russia and say they want to strengthen relations with the European Union.

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