Thursday

9th Jul 2020

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • 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.

EU tells Moldova it is still corrupt

In an annual progress report, European Commission says "independence of justice, law enforcement as well as national anti-corruption authorities need substantial improvement".

Eminent women appeal for EU help on Palestine

West Bank annexation "was conceived almost entirely by men" and will crush the "dignity and rights" of Palestinian women still further, a group of 40 women leaders have said.

News in Brief

  1. Rushdie, Fukuyama, Rowling warn against 'intolerance'
  2. Clashes in Belgrade after new lockdown measures
  3. US passes milestone of 3m coronavirus infections
  4. France wary of any future lockdowns
  5. Lithuania bans Kremlin-linked Russia Today programmes
  6. UK nominates Liam Fox for WTO top job
  7. Italy supports Spain's Calviño for Eurogroup job
  8. France and Germany warn Israel on annexation 'consequences'

Opinion

Entering a new, more Putin-like, Russia

The so-called "all-Russia" vote finishing today, with more than 200 amendments to the Russian constitution, has been marked by systematic electoral fraud, mass mobilisation of the administrative resources, populistic promises or exploiting the historical memory.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Five ideas to reshape 'Conference on Future of Europe'
  2. EU boosts pledges to relocate minors from Greece
  3. Hydrogen strategy criticised for relying on fossil fuel gas
  4. Merkel urges EU unity to hold off economic fallout and populism
  5. The opportunistic peace
  6. EU mulls new system to check illegal pushbacks of migrants
  7. EU forecasts deeper recession, amid recovery funds row
  8. Revealed: fossil-fuel lobbying behind EU hydrogen strategy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us