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Revolution in Moldova
April 7, 2009 9:24 PM   Subscribe

Following the 5 April parliamentary election results in the Republic of Moldova, in which the Partidul Comuniștilor din Republica Moldova won nearly 50% of the vote, thousands of young people began a series of protests largely organized through Twitter, text messaging, and FaceBook. The protests quickly reached a boiling point early today, when Parliament was stormed. Much of the coverage in the European press is limited to Romanian-language reporting. Some of the most compelling imagery and video clips, however, speak for themselves.

Smaller groups of people across Romania, including Bucharest, have shown their support for the anti-communist protests in Basarabia, as the Republic of Moldova is often referred to in Romanian. Recent reports have also indicated that buses carrying supporters from Romania into Moldova, as well as Moldovans attempting to enter the capital, Chișinau, are being turned away. Moldova’s current president, Vladimir Voronin, believes that there was an attempted coup d’état. The EU’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, has also weighed in on the events.

The Eurasia Daily Monitor offers insightful coverage and opinion pieces on the politics of the region. The wikipedia article on the Republic of Moldova, despite arguments over the official language of Moldova and recent nomenklatura changes by the Voronin government, is quite in-depth. The article on the breakaway region of Transnistria is also useful for understanding the Russian response to the recent events.
posted by vkxmai (44 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome post.

Global Voices Online also has a few posts about the situation in Moldova.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:51 PM on April 7, 2009


This is a fantastic post, well done
posted by mattoxic at 9:54 PM on April 7, 2009


I haven't RTFA but I brought a Moldovan girl to prom. Apparently, the place is really fucked. According to her, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the main export of the place was women. I will read through these links and attempt to followup more thoughtfully.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 10:03 PM on April 7, 2009


Frankly reviewing these sources linked to, it appears that the Communists fairly won the election. A relatively close friend runs OSCE's election monitoring outfit in that region. I trust her. The stories report that OSCE thinks the elections fair and in line with independent opinion polls. According to your first link, the title "communist party" is merely nominal and has run the country on a technocratic basis.

So are the protestors trying an end run around democracy? Any input would be fascinating.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:19 PM on April 7, 2009


Yeah, the protestors aren't not doing democracy any favours there. When you force your way into the parliment and start breaking stuff, that's a riot.

But the links suggest that there's some other dimensions to the situation as well. Apparently the Communist Party is closely aligned with Russia - which goes against the wishes of many young people and the opposition parties, who would prefer closer relations with the European Union and Romania.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:32 PM on April 7, 2009


Yeah, the protestors aren't not doing democracy any favours there. When you force your way into the parliment and start breaking stuff, that's a riot.

The People breaking into any of the branches of government and begin breaking stuff is probably the closest you can get to actual democracy. All this stuff with campaigns and ballots and votes is just for show anyway.

Let the rest of the western world take a lesson from these people: Take torches and pitchforks to the people that rule you on a regular basis, it keeps them on their toes. And it's an entertaining day out for the kids too.
posted by Djinh at 10:51 PM on April 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


That's a very Jeffersonian way of looking at things. But without a basic respect for the rule of law, the laws are worth nothing, imho. In this case it would seem the Communists won fair and square, so insurrection only hurts the cause of those who most want change. It makes the opposition look dangerous and the incumbent goverment appear to be the only safe choice.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:06 AM on April 8, 2009


So, the minority is inflicting violence because the majority voted for the communist party? It seems a strange day when communists from an old eastern bloc country are on the receiving side of ++ democracy, and their opponents rate negatively.
posted by edgeways at 12:24 AM on April 8, 2009


Heads up, the user of the YouTube account for the video link to from the word "speak" seems to be batshit insane in the "ZOMG!!! Jewz are controlling the world and eat babbies" kind of way.
posted by chillmost at 12:27 AM on April 8, 2009


This seems like more of a generational thing - reading the articles, it seems like there was a deep desire for change among young people living in the capital and more of a desire for stability in the countryside among poorer, older folks who depend on the state for more assistance.

And though it's sort of tangential to the discussion here, there was a great article in the New Yorker in May 2008 about sex trafficking and its role in the economies of Moldova, Ukraine, Romania, and other countries in the region.
posted by mdonley at 12:36 AM on April 8, 2009


"It seems a strange day when communists from an old eastern bloc country are on the receiving side of ++ democracy, and their opponents rate negatively."

It is strange, but in a way it's also sort of a compliment to the losing side. Because if there was no credible opposition, the governing Communists wouldn't have to appeal to the people at all. Instead of recruiting technocrats and making at least a partial attempt to fix their country's problems, they could concentrate on corruption and patronage and all the fun stuff that leaders get up to when no one is looking. Democracy needs at least two sides to function properly.

Maybe the Moldavian opposition parties could unite? That would do them the most good.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:44 AM on April 8, 2009


This seems like more of a generational thing

And? I don't like the way fucking baby boomers keep voting to spend my putative grandchildren's money on shiny trinkets for themselves, but I'm unconvinced this gives me the right to go torch Parliament every election that doesn't go my way.
posted by rodgerd at 1:08 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes but the protestors are bitching about living in "Europe's poorest state", which seems worse than baby boomers spending your money. If the election is fair, we won't see any recall elections, but maybe the protests will give the communists pause about their policies that harm young people. Italy also has incredibly bad generational problems where young people can't get anywhere near the pay grade or job security of baby boomers, but this results from right wing policies.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:45 AM on April 8, 2009


A report by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe on Sunday's vote gave a mostly positive assessment of the poll. But a British member of the OSCE's observation team questioned that conclusion.

Baroness Emma Nicholson said she found it "difficult to endorse the very warm press statement" from the head of the OSCE.

"The problem was that it was an OSCE report, and in the OSCE are, of course, the Russians, and their view was quite different, quite substantially different, for example from my own," she told BBC News.

posted by kersplunk at 4:26 AM on April 8, 2009


People saying 'stfu the communists won fair and square' -

There are rumors of a miscount and evidence that the election was in many ways badly conducted!

Those of you who tl;dr - this is the information from the link on the facebook page.

The electoral campaign for the election of representatives to the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova was marked by numerous violations of electoral Law: use of public administrative resources (at least 41 confirmed cases) and pressure and undue influence on electoral contestants (at least 21 confirmed cases) and voters (at least 33 confirmed cases).

In their news bulletins, the public TV stations with national coverage “Moldova 1” and “Radio Moldova” favoured mainly the governing party, turning the news bulletins into instruments of manipulation and propaganda in favour of PCRM and against the opposition parties. Similar infringements were observed at the private TV stations NIT, N4, EU TV and Antena C, which were limiting in this way the equal opportunities for all electoral contestants to present their electoral program and express their opinions. Thus, we can conclude that during the electoral campaign the political pluralism was not ensured.

„Coalition 2009” also points out that the electoral campaign continued beyond the legally allowed timeframe. On April 4th, 2009 several TV stations broadcasted reruns of TV shows featuring electoral campaign materials in favour of or against some electoral contestants: EUTV (9:30 – “Monitor” program, 21:40 – “Media Express” program), N4 (7:10 – “Obiectiv” program), NIT (7:30 – “Curier” program), PRO TV (7:30 – news bulletin), TV 7 (7:30 – news bulletin). Besides that, "State Informational Agency MOLDPRES" favoured PCRM on the Election Day, broadcasted news about the way the first three candidates from the PCRM list - Vladimir Voronin, Marian Lupu and Zinaida Greceanîi - casted their ballot. At the same time, the “MOLDPRESS” news agency didn’t broadcast any news about other electoral contestants.

According to official data, received by CEC from the Border Guard Service, there are 627 959 Moldovans permanently residing abroad. Taking into account that the number of Moldovan citizens abroad constitutes at least 20% from the total number of voters, “Coalition 2009” considers that 33 polling stations opened abroad were insufficient to ensure appropriate conditions for the expression of the right to vote. “Coalition 2009” reminds that, in the final report regarding the monitoring of the 2005 parliamentary elections these nongovernmental organizations recommended the public authorities to undertake measures needed to ensure that the Moldovan citizens residing abroad can express their right to vote in future elections.

In the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova these irregularities were much more acute. For more that 10% of the Moldovan citizens (residing in this region), the authorities did not ensure the minimum conditions for allowing them to express their right to vote, no electoral activities being undertaken in that region (debates, meetings with voters, electoral campaigning). The voters residing in the area have neither been informed by the authorities of the Republic of Moldova regarding the polling stations where they can vote, nor about the fact that they have to vote at their place of residence and not where they have their domicile. Another important irregularity is that the number of polling stations opened for the voters from the Transnistrian region was significantly lower than the number of voters in this region.

“Coalition 2009” draws attention to the fact that the irregularities observed at the parliamentary elections of April 5th, 2009 are similar to those mentioned in the 2005 reports published by the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections – “Coalition 2005”, however during the last four years the authorities did not take any actions for the improvement of this situation.

The list of the previous reports as well as the press releases published by the “Coalition 2009” during the Election Day, can be found at www.alegeliber.md.


Frankly, I back the protestors.
posted by kldickson at 5:00 AM on April 8, 2009


In the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova these irregularities were much more acute.

Wait, I'm confused, why would the Moldovans bother to try to hold elections in a part of their country that does not recognise itself as part of the country? Isn't that like the Chinese wheeling out the ancient Taiwanese Delegation at the Party Congress? Sure, I get it, everybody on earth, save the Russians and the Pridnestrovians themselves, claims Transnistria for Moldova, but does that mean that anything more than a token showing of "democracy" is necessary. How many Transnistrians were going to show up for Moldovan elections anyway?
posted by Pollomacho at 5:22 AM on April 8, 2009


Apparently the Communist Party is closely aligned with Russia - which goes against the wishes of many young people and the opposition parties, who would prefer closer relations with the European Union and Romania.

One of the links in there said that the communists were moving towards the EU and had lost support amongst the Russian element, but had worked to gain support amongst the Moldovians.Also the one link said that the Communists were the least corrupt and that they were running on the fact that the old "liberal" parties were really corrupt when they ran things.

As for those backing the protestors, I must disagree. Its obvious from the vote totals and pre election polls that the communists were most popular. The question is whether they met a threshold for governing. Seizing power after losing an election fairly isn't democratic and leads to instability in the long term.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:32 AM on April 8, 2009


Wait, I'm confused, why would the Moldovans bother to try to hold elections in a part of their country that does not recognise itself as part of the country? Isn't that like the Chinese wheeling out the ancient Taiwanese Delegation at the Party Congress?

Transnistria’s external borders are monitored and “controlled” by a combination of Moldovan, EU, and Ukrainian authorities. Tiraspol, the de facto capital of Transnistria, was a huge educational and industrial center during Soviet times. A lot of the medical workers and bureaucrats in the Republic of Moldova today, over the age of 45 or 50, were educated there.

I know personally several Romanian families who had the misfortune of buying apartments there in the very late 1980s and then finding themselves in a mafiosi state a few years later.

So yes, as Moldova legally has the right and prerogative to maintain the integrity of its borders and to plan and carry out elections, Moldovans may vote there in local and national elections, whether they’re in the capital Chisinau, in Tiraspol, in Berlin, or in Buffalo NY.
posted by vkxmai at 6:54 AM on April 8, 2009


There is an english language twitter feed which is really interesting to follow:

https://twitter.com/Moscovici
posted by cotterpin at 7:04 AM on April 8, 2009


Here is an update on Voronin’s reaction.

Here’s an update on the undead assault on democracy in Bessarabia.

Note that at the bottom of the translated article there is a link to Ziarul de Garda, which is a progressive local newspaper with a dedicated staff. This newspaper also conducts Romanian literacy efforts, by donating free subscriptions to Romanian-language newspapers (not just their own) to villages throughout Moldova.
posted by vkxmai at 7:09 AM on April 8, 2009


Here is an interesting post with two videos, in which the blogger identifies an agent provocateur, who seems to be considerably older than the protesters.

A statement from the Romanian-language media within and without Moldova, regarding the restrictions placed upon them by the Voronin government.

Live footage of the protests in Chișinau.
posted by vkxmai at 7:21 AM on April 8, 2009


Heads up, the user of the YouTube account for the video link to from the word "speak" seems to be batshit insane in the "ZOMG!!! Jewz are controlling the world and eat babbies" kind of way.

So, you clicked on the link to the pretty girl, too, huh?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:26 AM on April 8, 2009


Interesting interview with an OSCE observer from Britian, who was stationed/posted at the Transnistrian border, where she witnessed Russian and Transnistrian officials stopping Romanian Moldovans from crossing into RM territory to vote.
posted by vkxmai at 8:01 AM on April 8, 2009


So yes, as Moldova legally has the right and prerogative to maintain the integrity of its borders and to plan and carry out elections, Moldovans may vote there in local and national elections, whether they’re in the capital Chisinau, in Tiraspol, in Berlin, or in Buffalo NY.

But does Moldova need to set up polling stations all over the world? When I'm living abroad and an American election comes up I have to get myself an absentee ballot and send it in on time and I'm a citizen of what's commonly known as the richest country in the "free world." Tiraspol has disputedly between 10 and 20 percent "Moldovan" population. If you can only expect a portion of that portion to show up on election day, is it necessary for the impoverished state to go to the expense to set up a polling place for all 100% of the population? Do they really need to hold debates for the national election there?

I'm partially playing devils advocate here, but I'm genuinely curious about how this works in disputed territories like this. Do Palestinian politicians campaign in Israel or vice versa? Do Georgian candidates hold debates in South Ossetia? Did Berlusconi have to shout slogans from atop Mont Blanc/Monte Bianco to prove it was Italy?
posted by Pollomacho at 8:30 AM on April 8, 2009


I'm partially playing devils advocate here, but I'm genuinely curious about how this works in disputed territories like this.

I mean that in most countries where Moldovans live, such as the US, Spain, or Italy, they may go vote at their consulates. Moldovans living in Transnistria must cross the Nistru River to vote in Republic of Moldova.
posted by vkxmai at 8:34 AM on April 8, 2009


So, the minority is inflicting violence because the majority voted for the communist party?

"Majority" does not equal "Right"

"Less than 50% of voters" does not equal "Majority"

Still, my first thought was to wonder if any foreign power was helping foment these protests.
posted by regicide is good for you at 9:11 AM on April 8, 2009


Pollomacho, Transnistrians were prevented from voting. They couldn't get absentee ballots.
posted by kldickson at 9:16 AM on April 8, 2009


Also, from what I remember, the borders between Transnistria and Bessarabia were closed.
posted by kldickson at 9:17 AM on April 8, 2009


Transnistrians were prevented from voting.

I think you are reading that wrong, ethnic Moldovan residents of the territory called Transnistria were prevented from voting by Transnistrians.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:23 AM on April 8, 2009


Anecdotally: my contacts in Centru-Chișinau are upset that the opposition hasn’t taken to megaphones like in Tbilisi or Kiev. There is a lot of rumor-mongering on Twitter regarding “men in black.” I wouldn’t find it surprising at all if the 14th Army and “help” from Transnistria were to be called in to back up the government. Voronin is from Transnistria, after all.

There are lots of agents provocateurs moving around the peaceful demonstrators, according to Twitter and my contacts there.
posted by vkxmai at 10:11 AM on April 8, 2009


Hopefully someone will shut EurasiaResurges up.
posted by kldickson at 11:05 AM on April 8, 2009


Hopefully someone will shut EurasiaResurges up.

Ha, I just had the same thought a moment ago.
posted by vkxmai at 11:08 AM on April 8, 2009


My good friend from Bucharest hasn't seen any protests. Am I right in supposing that they're mostly taking place around the University of Bucharest, which he doesn't frequent, seeing as he's a student at the Politehnica?

I find it sort of an eccentric side note that protesters are waving the Romanian flag. It would, I think, be hilarious if one of them cut out Moldova's seal, in imitation of 1989's protest.
posted by kldickson at 11:19 AM on April 8, 2009


I am mildly ashamed to admit I actually made an account on Twitter just to rip that guy another asshole.
posted by kldickson at 11:23 AM on April 8, 2009


The EurasiaResurges moron, I mean .
posted by kldickson at 11:23 AM on April 8, 2009


An article from Wired.com’s Danger Room regarding the role of Twitter in the revolution.

There’s also a new brief summary of the events and possible causes on the Beeb.
posted by vkxmai at 12:04 PM on April 8, 2009


Here’s a round-up of the day’s op-ed pages (available) online, in translation.

Romania
Cotidianul (The Daily) I
Cotidianul (The Daily) II
Evenimentul Zilei (The Day’s Event) I
Evenimentul Zilei (The Day’s Event) II

Republic of Moldova/Bessarabia
Timpul (The Times) I
Timpul (The Times) II
posted by vkxmai at 12:18 PM on April 8, 2009


Excellent post, vkxmai.

You can't look at the Moldova situation without looking at what's also been going on in Ukraine in the past few years. There is similarly smoldering anti-Russia sentiment in western Ukraine, which is the area of Ukraine that is due north of Moldova, sharing the border with them, and which was the scene of some of the fiercest Orange Revolution protests a few years ago.

The protests in Moldova aren't just a generational issue or an electoral fraud issue. They're part of a larger proxy tug-of-war between the interests of the East and the West, over land rights for pipelines and trade and access to raw materials. Russia, naturally, is unhappy about their former "property" being used as the location. But they forget that both these areas were ruled for decades by other, more Western countries -- western Ukraine by the Austro-Hungarian Empire (as the province of Galicia) and northern Moldova by Romania (and briefly by Austro-Hungary too). The ethnic mixes there are a bit different, too.

I think the wine boycotts and the simmering Russia/Ukraine gas pipeline disputes were just the beginning. I am concerned about what else Putin Medvedyev may have in store for this slice of the world...

/ 1/8 Bessarabian and proud of it today
posted by Asparagirl at 12:39 PM on April 8, 2009


There is a lot of rumor-mongering on Twitter regarding “men in black.” I wouldn’t find it surprising at all if the 14th Army and “help” from Transnistria were to be called in to back up the government.

Agents Provacateurs, rumored to have been Russian spetznaz flown in for the occasion, were also reported in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution five years ago. One of the sources at that time was an American congressman who was stuck in Ukraine reporting the news via his Blackberry.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:47 PM on April 8, 2009


They've got some propaganda going on at the Kremlin's favorite mouthpiece, Russia Today.
posted by kldickson at 1:11 PM on April 8, 2009


I think the wine boycotts and the simmering Russia/Ukraine gas pipeline disputes were just the beginning.


There is an excellent Eastern European grocery store/wine depot in Cleveland that is now one of the only sources of Moldovan/Georgian wine for Northeast Ohio (the next nearest is Detroit). It’s sad that it could be easier to acquire ten cases of vin moldovenesc in Ohio than in Perm or Ufa…

Regarding Russia’s plans for Bessarabia, I think that Russia is very pragmatic. They use it to get what they want in other issues and matters concerning the EU, NATO, OSCE, etc.

I am curious to see what Soros and the East Coast think-tanks have to say about these recent events.
posted by vkxmai at 4:48 PM on April 8, 2009


Jurnal TV, a local Moldovan news broadcaster, supposedly caught this footage today, wherein youth(s?) are arrested on their way somewhere downtown, beaten, and sequestered at a police building.

The title of the video is “Polițiștii sechestrează copii de pe stradă și îi snopesc în bătă” (The police (officers) take kids from the street and beat them (with) cudgel(s).)
posted by vkxmai at 5:01 PM on April 8, 2009


Scraps of Moscow has plenty of further links and information about the recent events in the Moldovan capital.
posted by vkxmai at 11:17 PM on April 8, 2009


It seems the German-language press has (finally?) picked up the story.

Here’s the FAZ’s Zusammenfassung of the recent events. Der Standard, complete with humorous comments, put together a few paragraphs, as well. NZZ has more of a play-by-play article on Moldova.

To round things off, here are a few French-language articles on the same topic, from Le NouvelObs, Le Monde, and France 24.
posted by vkxmai at 7:20 AM on April 9, 2009


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