Up to 50,000 demonstrators in Chisinau called for Moldova’s unification with Romania on March 27.
The march follows other similar, yet much smaller events organised last year. However, a recent poll showed that only 22.9% of the Moldovans would vote in favour of a reunification with their neighbour, while more than half of the population considers their country should be closer to Russia.
The precise number of the participants in the march is still unclear, as local media put it between 10,000 and 50,000, while police said the number of demonstrators was only around 7,000.
Demonstrators commemorated the 98th anniversary of the unification of Basarabia (whose territory is approximately that of present-day Moldova) and the kingdom of Romania, a union which lasted only until 1940, when Romania had to cede Basarabia to the Soviet Union.
The march was preceded by a congress of unionists, where the 1,700 participants symbolically voted in favour of the union of the two countries and for the establishment of the Country Council 2 (Sfatul Tarii 2), a body whose mission will be to work on strategies aimed at bringing Moldova and Romania closer together, according to public broadcaster Teleradio Moldova.
Sfatul Tarii 2 was named after the country's leading body back in 1918. Its ultimate aim will be to unify the two countries by 2018 - 100 years after the first unification.
Sfatul Tarii 2 drafted a list of very specific targets. Among them are the unification of the education, telecoms, emergency and mass media systems.
The events were organised by organisations campaigning for the reunification, and no political party seems to have been involved. Moldova is expected to hold its first direct presidential elections soon and parties may be reluctant to back a move which enjoys the support of less than a quarter of the country’s population. However, a number of deputies participated in the rally, including Mihai Ghimpu, the president of the Liberal Party.
During the march and the congress, two bomb alerts were announced. However, they proved to be hoaxes. Two people claimed that explosive devices had been placed at Nicolae Susac National Palace, where the congress was taking place, and at Chisinau railway station.
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