An anti-government protest organised in Moldova’s capital Chisinau on August 27 turned violent with police using tear gas against demonstrators.
Moldova celebrated 25 years since it declared its independence from the Soviet Union on August 27. The violence erupted when the participants at the #NuMaTem (#IAmNotAfraid) protest, apparently organised on social media, tried to enter the central National Assembly Square (Piata Marii Adunari Nationale), where the Independence Day parade was taking place.
The protesters accused the government of treason and corruption, according to Ziarul de Garda. Police reacted with tear gas and prevented the protesters from entering the square.
The protest organised on Independence Day was attended by two key figures from the pro-EU and pro-Russia opposition, Dignity and Truth (DA) leader Andrei Nastase and Renato Usatii, the pro-Russian head of Partidul Nostru, according to Agora.md.
The protest was harshly criticised by Prime Minister Pavel Filip and the parliament speaker Adrian Candu, unimedia reported.
“Everybody has the right to protest, including the opposition. But I cannot understand how one can protest when the national anthem is played, when salutes are given. They are important symbols of statehood,” Candu said.
Filip said that “independence day is not about hatred and division.” Igor Dodon, the head of the pro-Russian Moldovan Socialist party (PSRM), also criticised the rally.
According to the Facebook page for the event, the #NuMaTem campaign was launched by the civil society “against the crimes committed during the 25 years of independence.”
“I am not afraid to say that we have become the poorest country in Europe, that we have become the most corrupt state in Europe, that we are one of the biggest exporters of drugs, that we are stolen in terms of electricity, natural gas and water and that with the help of the judicial system billions of dollars of the Russian mafia are laundered, that the financial and banking system is bankrupt, that we are ruled by some criminals led by Vlad Plahotniuc and we have no reasons to celebrate anything. We are living a national tragedy and we have to go out on the streets in order to change these things,” the Facebook event page said.
The Moldovan capital has been the scene of numerous protests in the past two years. Thousands of demonstrators rallied in Chisinau in April, expressing their anger against oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc’s control of the government, and calling for early elections. The protests were organised by the DA civic platform, which has now set up a political party, and is pushing for the country’s EU integration. Protests were also organised in other towns this spring.
DA organised mass protests last year in Moldova too, attracting citizens fed up with official corruption and angered by bank frauds, in which $1bn was siphoned off from the country’s banking system.