How Goes the Revolution?
It looks like the democracy is hitting the fan in the capital of Moldova today. Sunday's elections resulted in a victory for the ruling Communist Party, and a protest planned for Tuesday morning has now turned violent. Apparently military units are now arriving in downtown Chisinau and protests are being planned or taking place in other cities as well (I have read about Balti and Ungheni so far).
A number of bloggers are covering events, mostly in Romanian (the language spoken by most of the population in Moldova, where Russian is also spoken by many), and according to the Telegraph, Twitter was a key organizing tool for the protesters today.
Natalia Morari, a Moldovan journalist and activist who was famously barred from entering Russia last year, has been involved in organizing some of the protests and has posted photos from a peaceful protest by some 15,000 people on Monday and an account of how it was initially organized - by six people, organizing everything using only tools available on the internet, under the slogan "I'm not a Communist!"
According to her post, even on Monday, the organizers asked everyone to disperse and planned to reassemble on Wednesday, but "everything began unfolding rather chaotically." Tuesday's protests, for which the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM) had official permission, apparently became even more chaotic. It's possible, though, that the chaos could have been provoked by the authorities in a bid to get the peaceful majority of the population on their side by portraying the opposition as thuggish rabble-rousers.
Now, apparently, the organizers of Monday's demonstration may be facing criminal charges and are consulting with attorneys. Further developments to follow, no doubt, at Morari's blog.
Another Moldovan blogger, Nicu Popescu, has lamented the end of Moldova's history of non-violent protests in a long and interesting post which I unfortunately haven't time to translate, and has posted a call for EU High Representative for Foreign Policy to come to Chisinau and mediate:
My suggestion is that the EU should promote a "new deal" between the government and the opposition that could include some of the following elements.
- recount of the votes with strong international monitoring, and the recognition of the re-counted votes by the opposition.
- the dismissal of the the minister of interior who has been central to many pre-electoral abuses and harrassment of the opposition and the media. the new minister of interior should be appointed by after consensus between the government and the opposition.
- initiating a process of police reform under the supervision of EU advisors, possibly extending the mandate of the EU Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine.
- Vladimir Voronin, the incumbent president (at the end of his second term) should respect the Moldovan constitution and retire from politics after his second term with guarantees for future immunity from prosecution. The Communist party elects a new leader, who might enjoy a majority in the parliament. There might be a Communist government (if the recount confirms their victory), but without Voronin.
- The broadcasting licenses of existing independent media, particulaly PRO TV (the only TV channel independent from the government) should be extended. A decision on that is pending.
One can only hope that cooler heads will prevail.