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Page last updated at 12:32 GMT, Wednesday, 8 April 2009 13:32 UK

Eyewitness: Moldova protests

Thousands of young protesters ransacked the parliament building in Chisinau on Tuesday, in protest at the results of Sunday's election.

International observers said the vote appeared to have been fair, but demonstrators accused the authorities of rigging the election, which gave the ruling Communists about 50% of the vote.

Here, three Chisinau residents describe what happened at the protests and discuss whether they are good for their country.

ALINA MARTINIUC, STUDENT
Alina Martiniuc

I went to see the protests yesterday. I got a few messages from colleagues that there'll be protests, but I didn't know how dangerous it was going to be.

There were scuffles between students and the police. A colleague of mine was hit by a policeman.

Students were throwing stones at the building, breaking most windows. Some of my colleagues went in and later said that they went to the 14th floor, smashed everything and put the president's chair and portrait on fire.

I was afraid and I was just observing what was going on. I think there were probably a few acts of vandalism, like the breaking of traffic lights, but apart from that, people had a genuine cause for protest.

I was there and I can tell you that the protesters weren't drunk. How can tens of thousands of people be drunk at the same time? My colleagues knew what they were doing and whatever they did was for a good cause.

The students are discontented with the election result. Most of the people who voted for communism are old people, but old people are dying and there are more young people voting now than before. So the result is definitely not true. It's not logical.

We don't want to be governed by the communists anymore. I think the Communist Party should be outlawed, just like the Nazi Party is outlawed in Germany.


LILIANA CALMNATUI, NGO WORKER
The parliament building, Photo taken by Alina Martiniuc
Protesters attacked the parliament building with stones. Photo: Alina Martiniuc

I went to the protest during my lunch break. The protesters were mostly young people. You could rarely see anyone older. There are many government buildings in the area and government workers were warned not to attend protests, otherwise they may be fired.


When I arrived, they had just started to throw stones at the building. Prior to that the police used water to disperse the crowds. That created tension and that's what started them going.

I agree with the protesters, but I don't agree with what they did. It's not civilised.

Most of the people in Chisinau voted for the democratic parties. I've been asking friends, neighbours, people on the street.


Indeed in the villages, where there are only old people left, most people would vote for the Communist Party. But the young people of our country want a better life, they can't be satisfied with $150 a month.


There is room for [vote] fraud. I think 10 - 15% is unaccounted for. I've visited villages as part of my work, where 200 new names have appeared on election lists with nobody knowing who those people are.

That's just one example, but also, it is not clear what happens when you change address, or when you go abroad and some of that data can be used to manipulate results.


ANONYMOUS CHISINAU RESIDENT
Government Square, Photo taken by Alina Martiniuc
Thousands of people gathered in Government Square. Photo: Alina Martiniuc

I was there for a quick moment. There were no water jets, [just] a few small hoses enough to put out a small fire.

The international media portrays this as a big protest: there couldn't have been 20,000 people attending. The space between the parliament and the presidency is so small, how can there be so many people? I'd say, there were 2,000 people at the most.

I was distressed by the attacks on our president. It is unacceptable to throw eggs at our national coat of arms. It is unacceptable to throw rocks on our brothers, the 20-year-old kids from the national guard.

And it is completely unacceptable to disrespect our national dignity. Everybody has the right to express their thoughts and beliefs, but this should be done in a respectful way.

I was at the elections and I gave my vote. It was a great event for us to elect our next parliament. I have no idea how anyone can succeed in rigging the elections given the presence of a great number of international observers.

People are making these accusations because they are not happy but they have no proof whatsoever.

The Communist Party has invested a lot in the last four years. They've invested in people, infrastructure, education, they've raised the pensions too. We are a poor country but we are less poor now than four years ago.




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SEE ALSO
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Moldova students raid parliament
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Moldova's direction at stake in vote
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Country profile: Moldova
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Regions and territories: Trans-Dniester
12 Feb 09 |  Country profiles


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