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Monday, 25 March, 2002, 16:45 GMT
Moldova opposition leader goes missing
Protesters celebrate the education minister's resignation
The government wants to take Moldova closer to Russia
The nationalist opposition in the former Soviet republic of Moldova has blamed the government for the disappearance of one of its leaders.

Vlad Cubreacov
Cubreacov has helped to organise anti-government demonstrations
Vlad Cubreacov, one of the leaders of the Christian Democratic People's Party (PPCD), was declared missing by his wife on Friday, after he failed to return home from a party meeting on Thursday.

The party said he had been abducted, either by the communist authorities, or by what it called people influenced by them.

The Moldovan President, Vladimir Voronin, has denied the allegations and accused the party of seeking to destabilise the country.

This crime was either committed by the communist regime... or by people influenced by the regime

PPCD statement

Mr Cubreacov has been one of the organisers of anti-government demonstrations in Moldova.

The protests have forced the authorities to cancel plans to make Russian an obligatory language in the mainly Romanian-speaking country.

Mr Cubreacov disappeared late on Thursday after being dropped off by the party's driver in front of his apartment building in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau.

Linguistic clash

Mr Voronin has vowed to stamp out dissent in Moldova, where tens of thousands of nationalists, schoolchildren and students have held almost daily protests since January against his rule.

The Russian-language decree has been lifted, but the peaceful protests against government moves to bring the country closer to Moscow have continued.

Moldova President Vladimir Voronin
Voronin: Christian Democrats want to destabilise the country

Moldova, a country of 4.5 million sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine and one of Europe's poorest, was part of Romania until 1940, when it was annexed by the Soviet Union.

Two-thirds of Moldovans are of Romanian descent and the languages are virtually identical.

During the Soviet era, Russian was mandatory in all schools, and the use of Romanian was not encouraged.

Since coming to power last year, pro-Moscow communists led by President Voronin have pledged to take the country closer to Russia.

See also:

18 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Moldova
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