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MOSCOW, May 5. /TASS/. Moldova’s eurointegration-targeted government, which has so far been subject to criticism mostly from the left: the advocates of Eurasian orientation and cooperation with Russia, has suffered a sudden stab in the back. Angry comments over the ruling coalition’s policies have come from the traditional electorate - the backers of European integration. Russian experts believe that if the government fails to take prompt and effective measures for the sake of economic stabilization, the course of events may take an unpredictable turn.
Last Sunday, the country’s capital Chisinau saw an anti-government rally in support of the demand for genuine struggle against corruption. The demonstrators carrying EU flags also demanded ousting big business tycoons from power. On Monday, the activists dispatched a list of demands to Moldova’s Prime Minister Chiril Gaburici and set a two-week deadline for meeting them. Among other things the protesters demanded the arrest of oligarchs Vladimir Filat and Vladimir Plahotniuc, who lead the Liberal Democratic Party and Democratic Party respectively.
Besides, they urged the dismissal of those government officials who permitted the crisis in the banking sphere: the issue of bad loans has defrauded three large Moldovan banks of a colossal $1 billion. In order to prevent the banking system from collapse the authorities extended assistance to the problem banks without disclosing the sources. The public at large suspects that Filat and Plahotniuc are both responsible, while the money was taken from the National Bank’s reserves.
The daily Kommersant says none of the country’s political parties was involved in Sunday’s protest action, which, according to police sources gathered more than 20,000, while the protesters say the crowd was as large as 50,000. The Civil Platform that organized the rally - Dignity and Truth - has no career politicians on the list of its members. It was founded by political scientists, lawyers, journalists and authors. The new reality has had a stunning effect on the authorities: none of the leaders of the ruling Alliance for European Moldova has dared comment in public on the demands addressed to the authorities.
"The government’s position is unenviable: the country is deep in a social and economic crisis, embezzlement of budget funds make it still worse, and farming has been in ruins after the loss of markets in the Customs Union countries and the introduction of EU import quotas," the chief of the Trans-Dniestria and Moldova department of the CIS Studies Institute, Sergey Lavrenov, told TASS. "Against this background anti-government demonstrations organized by pro-Romanian forces have lasted since the beginning of April. They have been trying to take advantage of the critical situation to prove Moldova is a failed state and that unification with Romania would be the sole way out."
Lavrenov believes that the further march of events will depend on how successful the government will be in tackling the problems, and if the opposition manages to shake the situation loose. In reality, those genuinely eager to see unification with Romania are few - 4% to 6% according to various estimates. Moreover, he said, of late there was an increase in the number of supporters of Eurasian integration and cooperation with Russia. At the moment they account for 58% of the polled, while the share of euro-integration enthusiasts has shrunk to less than 40%.
Moldova’s parliamentary elections were held just recently, with a real majority of votes cast not for the forces that are currently in power, an assistant professor at the Russian presidential academy RANEPA, Sergey Bespalov, has told TASS. "This is a result of a high qualification hurdle. The pro-Russian electorate was split among smaller spoiler parties. That enabled the pro-Western forces to form a majority in parliament. But in reality they have never enjoyed support from a majority in society." And even despite the divergence of opinion among the two main left-of-centre opposition parties - the Socialists and the Communists, the left wingers’ pressure on the government is continuing. The economic problems and the row over commercial banks endanger socio-economic stability. "Even if one of the bank goes broke, this may create large problems for such a small country as Moldova," Bespalov warns.
"It should not be ruled out that external actors, Romania first and foremost, may play into the hands of certain forces inside Moldova, hoping to have one more loyal political force to rely on, if the government’s popularity remains on the descent," Bespalov said.
"All these are rather alarming symptoms for Moldova’s newly-formed government. I do not believe, though, that there is a risk of a parliamentary crisis in the near future. After all, the elections were held just several months ago. But if economic problems continue to snowball, an unpredictable turn of events is a possibility," Bespalov said.