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Moldova’s big and small political forces try to capitalize on popular protest wave

September 07, 2015, 17:19 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© Vadim Denisov/TASS

MOSCOW, September 7. /TASS/. Behind the current protest actions in Moldova one is likely to find both the European Union and Europe-oriented opposition forces, who are both angry about the current authorities, whose corruption scandals discredit the very idea of euro-integration, Russian experts say. The makeup of the opposition forces is patchy: there are both supporters and opponents of Moldova’s European vector.

Last Sunday’s protest demonstration in the centre of the capital Chisinau, the largest since the early 1990s, gathered - according to different estimates - a crowd of 40,000 to 100,000. The demonstrators’ main demands were the resignation of President Nicolae Timofti, the dissolution of parliament and early elections. The opposition’s representatives do not rule out the demonstration may be an open-ended one.

The demonstration was called by the civil platform DA - Demnitate si adevar (Dignity and Truth). Other opposition forces joined in. The activists are demanding the recovery of one billion euros, withdrawn from three banks in the form of unsecured loans. In Moldova, that transaction has been dubbed "the robbery of the century". They are also pressing for the dismissal of all senior officials of the National Bank, the Prosecutor-General’s Office, Anti-Corruption Commission, Supreme Judicial Chamber, Customs Service and other government agencies.

"One can say that this is an attempt to transplant Ukrainian style anti-government demonstrations (known as ‘Maidan’ in modern political parlance) to local Moldovan soil," the Svobodnaya Pressa (Free Press) portal quotes Vasily Kashirin, an expert on Moldovan affairs, as saying. "There is an absolutely ineffective and corrupt oligarchic regime, which is equally inconvenient to Russia and its partners, and to the West. The ruling regime positions itself as absolutely pro-western, but it is absolutely corrupt."

It is beyond doubt that pro-western and pro-European forces spearhead the current anti-government protest, Kashirin said, adding, though, that left-wing forces friendly to Russia were present among the protesters, too.

The current situation has certain objective reasons. The policy of association with the EU has failed to improve the living standards in the country and the economy is bogged in a crisis, the head of the Trans-Dniestria and Moldova section at the CIS Studies Institute, Sergey Lavrenov, has told TASS. "Besides, there is this bank fraud affair, which easily sparked and outbreak of popular anger, as the people are struggling through no easy times. One should also remember the government’s decision to raise the prices of electricity and utility services. These factors could not but foment mass popular discontent. Moldova’s opposition forces were quick to take advantage of the situation."

The DA movement is very mixed. In it one finds small but very active political forces pressing for Moldova’s unification with Romania.

At the same time the European Union is not interested in destabilizing Moldova, Lavrenov believes. "Until just recently it presented Moldova as an example of successful implementation of the Eastern Partnership program. But the European Union is now really annoyed by the level of corruption, and they have been trying to somehow persuade the Moldovan government to effect reform that would streamline economic affairs and ease the level of corruption."

It is the West that has been causing pressures on the current Moldovan leadership, says the deputy chief of the post-Soviet countries branch at the Russian state humanitarian university RGGU, Aleksandr Gushchin. "The protests’ organizer - the DA platform - consists of pro-European opposition activists. Quite a few demonstrators were seen to carry EU flags," Gushchin said. "The one-billion-dollar theft and corruption scandals have largely discredited the pro-European vector, particularly in the eyes of Moldovan citizens. Brussels cannot but be unhappy about that."

Gushchin recalled that of late the Western media published a series of articles by experts and EU functionaries highly critical of Moldova’s current authorities and the oligarchy-based ruling coalition. "Ideally, they would like to see this government go. But the system cannot be reset instantly, and the EU is perfectly aware of that. For the time being they are in the process of bargaining. They are waiting for concessions from the current government."

For Russia, Gushchin believes, the situation looks no easy at all.

"Moscow does not share the ideas of euro-integration, but on the other hand it has rather complicated relations with the current authorities. It would like to see pressures on Trans-Dniestria eased. With the help of Ukraine Moldova has in fact established the territory’s economic blockade.

Gushchin believes that Moldova’s current and future authorities will most probably adhere to the euro-integration concept. The pro-Russian vector in the Moldovan policy, as represented by the Socialist Party in the first place, is strong, but it is not strong enough yet to form its own government, he said.

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