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CHISINAU, March 27. /TASS/. Thousands of farmers began mass protests in Moldova on Friday demanding compensation from the government for Russian food embargo losses.
The farmers have sent more than 1,000 units of agricultural machinery to a total of 34 national highways.
"We are not blocking the traffic on the highways now and this will be a peaceful protest. We are yet to decide how to seek the fulfillment of our demands in future," the chairman of the National Federation of Farmers, the former agriculture minister, Valery Kosarchuk, told TASS.
The farmers, who have no funds for the spring field works amid the difficult financial situation, also demand that the government should increase subsidies of the agriculture sector, he said.
Other demands include keeping the value-added tax (VAT) rate at 8% (against 20% demanded by the International Monetary Fund) and decreasing the fuel prices and loan interest rates.
The Moldovan government promised compensation to the farmers for the loss of the Russian market last year.
Last summer, Russia's agricultural watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor banned the import of fruits from Moldova. Russia later canceled zero import tariffs on other Moldovan goods.
Russia's ambassador to Moldova, Farit Mukhametshin, said in November that Moldova’s association and free trade agreement with the EU was in conflict with its agreement on free trade with Russia.
Moldova’s farmers cannot orient their supplies to the EU market as their goods fail to comply with the European quality standards. The Moldovan fruit growers have suffered the greatest losses as the country was ranked second in apple exports to Russia after Poland.