Thursday

23rd Mar 2017

Pro-Russia protesters storm Moldova parliament

  • Scuffles with police in parliament led to minor injures and arrests (Photo: Ryan)

Hundreds of protesters broke into Moldova’s parliament on Wednesday (20 January), shortly after MPs approved the nomination of a new, pro-EU prime minister.

The Reuters news agency reports that members of the crowd, which had called for new elections, scuffled with police in riot gear, leading to minor injuries and arrests.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The 2014 bank fraud was equivalent to 15 percent of Moldova's GDP (Photo: EUobserver)

The demonstration, reminiscent of the pro-Western, so-called Colour Revolutions of 10 years ago, was the latest in a series of protests which are being organised, in the main part, by pro-Russian opposition parties, such as Our Party of oligarch Renato Usatii, EU sources say.

Opinion polls indicate that if elections were held, the opposition could sweep to power, putting in doubt Moldova’s EU integration.

The EU foreign service, for its part, called for “calm and restraint from all sides.”

“We encourage all stakeholders in the country to engage in a dialogue and to find, together, a way forward for the Republic of Moldova," it said on Wednesday.

But the protests, which have rumbled, on and off, since February last year also involve pro-transparency and anti-corruption groups.

Wednesday’s rally numbered about 3,000 people. But a protest in September involved up to 100,000 - nearly 3 percent of the population.

The unrest comes after a banking scandal in 2014, in which up to $1.5 billion vanished from three lenders in what is Europe’s poorest country.

The new PM, Pavel Filip, a 49-year old former sweets factory manager and communications minister in the ruling Democratic Party, won 57 out of 101 votes in the chamber on Wednesday.

"The people of Moldova don't need a government that says pleasant things, but a government that solves their problems," he said after the result.

Members of the pro-Russian Socialist party also heckled proceedings and held up banners saying “Early elections!”.

Filip’s elevation comes after two previous candidates, Vlad Plahotniuc, an oligarch, and Ion Paduraru, a member of the president’s staff, fell by the wayside. If the Filip vote had also failed, the president would have been forced to call the snap vote.

Filip is Moldova’s third prime minister in less than a year.

His predecessor, Valeriu Strelet, was ousted in a no-confidence motion in October. Strelet’s predecessor, Chiril Gaburici, stepped down in June amid allegations he lied about school diplomas.

Another former PM, and one-time pro-EU darling, Vlad Filat, was arrested on bribery charges last year.

Moldova, like Ukraine, has signed an association and free-trade treaty with the EU. It was also granted visa-free travel and had been seen as a front-runner in the EU’s Eastern Partnership project, designed to build closer ties with former Soviet states.

Part of the country - Transniestria - broke away in a civil war in the 1990s and still hosts a Russian arms dump and thousands of Russian soldiers.

It's in a strategic location, amid concerns that if Russia reignites fighting in Ukraine, it could try to connect Russia-occupied regions to Transniestria, cutting off Ukraine from the Black Sea.

EU diplomats say the Russia-linked unrest is similar to events in Montenegro, where protesters, also under an anti-corruption banner, have called for the country’s pro-Nato leader to go.

Opinion

How to fix Moldova

The EU must help Moldova to deal with its current crisis, but "pro-European" forces who fail to fight corruption will not be tolerated, Lithuania's foreign minister says.

Stolen Russian billions ended up in EU states

Illicit money flowing out of Russia ended up in almost every single EU state, an investigation has found, posing questions on the integrity of Europe’s banking systems.

Turkey-EU relations plumb new depths

Turkey’s EU quarrel escalated on all fronts over the weekend, amid fresh “Nazi” and “terrorism” jibes. “Not all Turks are little Erdogans,” Juncker said.

News in Brief

  1. Man arrested in Antwerp after trying to mow people down
  2. Marine Le Pen goes to Russia
  3. Dutch post-election talks prioritise green-right coalition
  4. EU summons Turkish envoy over threats to Europeans
  5. British police make first arrests in London terror probe
  6. EU commission has received Facebook reply on WhatsApp
  7. Rome expects thousands of protesters at summit
  8. Dijsselbloem says his comments had 'Dutch directness'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  2. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  3. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  4. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  5. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  6. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  8. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  9. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  10. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  11. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  12. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted

Latest News

  1. 'No zero terror risk', EU security commissioner warns
  2. UN could step in where EU fails in child migrant protection
  3. May: London attacker was known to the police
  4. Ending the migrant deal with Turkey may save the EU
  5. Poland unlikely to face EU discipline on rule of law
  6. Rutte courted Wilders' voters, now he must deliver
  7. Barnier to UK: trade talks will come after settling accounts
  8. EU declaration to voice unity in troubled times