Moldova in Crisis: Protesters Break Into Parliament, Police Make Arrests
Moldova in Crisis: Protesters Break Into Parliament, Police Make Arrests © Sputnik/ Stringer
20:35 20.01.2016(updated 21:43 20.01.2016) Get short URL
Hundreds of angry protesters broke through police lines and entered Moldova’s legislature on Wednesday evening following the parliament’s approval of the cabinet of the new government, to be led by pro-EU former communications minister Pavel Filip.
Arrests have since been made and the government has begun using tear gas against the protestors, Russia’s RIA Novosti reports.
Before the vote on Wednesday afternoon, thousands of protesters massed outside the legislature to demand early elections. Following the confirmation of Filip’s government, protesters began shouting ‘Cancel the vote!’ and ‘Thieves!’ at lawmakers gathered in the building.
57 deputies of the country’s 101-member parliament, including MPs from the ruling Democratic Party, had voted to approve the candidacy of the new prime minister, a former candy factory manager, last week, with the Party of Socialists boycotting the vote, and sending an inquiry to the country’s constitutional court over the validity of Filip’s nomination (the court turned down their appeal).
Earlier, Renato Usatii, the leader of Our Party (considered by Western media to be a key representative of Moldova’s ‘pro-Russian’ opposition), described the Democratic Party’s decision as a “coup” and an “usurpation of power.” Usatii and other opposition figures pointed to Filip’s close ties to unpopular Moldovan oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, a businessman and politician who opponents believe is the ‘real force’ behind the scenes.
On Wednesday, riot police stationed outside the parliament building engaged in a stand-off against angry protesters calling for early elections. Following the vote, demonstrators made it past police lines, broke down the parliament’s back door, and entered the building, where they were met by a police cordon, which did not use force inside the building. Protesters removed the helmets and shields of officers caught in the building. Dozens of journalists were also blocked inside.
Since last fall, major anti-government protests have gripped the Moldovan capital of Chisinau, with activists demanding the resignation of the president, the prime minister and the chief prosecutor, and calling for early parliamentary elections, together with firm action to tackle corruption.
Moldova entered 2016 without steady government and mired in a deep political crisis, following a corruption scandal which forced the ruling pro-EU government of Prime Minister Valeriu Strelet to resign in late October, and that of predecessor Chiril Gaburici in June. The crisis began early last year, after over $1 billion, equivalent to about 15% of the country’s GDP, disappeared from three Moldovan banks in 2014.