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20 Jan, 2016 16:46

Protesters in Moldovan capital storm parliament building

The new Moldovan government was sworn in at night, following a day of furious protests against the newly appointed pro-EU prime minister. Angry demonstrators clashed with police and stormed the parliamentary office shortly after the lawmakers’ vote.

The ceremony was initially postponed due to the protest. However, it became known post factum that the new cabined was sworn overnight in by the President Nicolae Timofti.

The unrest in the capital city of Chisinau reportedly calmed down in the evening, following an hours-long stand-off between activists and law enforcement officials.
According to reports, up to seven police officers and three protesters have been injured.

Rallying outside the Parliament office since around 10:00 in the morning local time, activists managed to break through police barricades and storm the building around 19:00.

Some police officers were reportedly dragged out of the building by the demonstrators. According to some reports the protesters also used tear gas against police.

Police detained several protesters after they broke into the parliament building, according to local media reports.

The protesters gathered in front of the parliament on Wednesday to demonstrate against the lawmaker’s decision to approve the pro-EU cabinet led by Pavel Filip. Thousands of demonstrators blockaded the building after the new government was approved without debate. 

Pavel Filip was appointed to the post of Prime Minister by 57 votes out of 78. He was previously chosen by the country’s president as a compromise candidate after two earlier attempts to appoint a prime minister failed.

"The people of Moldova don't need a government that says pleasant things, but a government that solves their problems," said Filip on Wednesday after his appointment.

Moldavian law enforcements are now working in the Parliament building, in order to assess the damage.

“Accounts are being gathered and video is being studied. A few provocateurs have been identified,” speaker of the Moldovan Parliament Adrian Kandu said, adding that on Thursday morning “measures will be taken” to bring those responsible to justice.

The Moldovan opposition has been objecting to Filip’s appointment. The vice-chairman of the major pro-European Democratic Party, has close ties with its leader Vladimir Plahotniu, a former lawmaker, who was one of the major targets of massive public protests over a corruption and banking fraud scandal that came to light in October 2015.

Moldova has been home to political uncertainty for about three months after its previous government was ousted by a no-confidence vote in October. The country entered 2016 without a government and amid ongoing mass protests which started in early September 2015.

The latest massive rally calling for the dissolution of the parliament and snap elections was held on Saturday with about 20,000 people taking to the streets of Chisinau.

The unending anti-government protests are “just a culmination” of political developments in the country which have been ongoing for about 15 years, political analyst Aleksandar Pavic, told RT.

Moldavian elites pursued pro-European policy for more than 15 years with the country “being somehow integrated with the West on paper but in reality people were getting just more impoverished,” he said.

“People do not trust the government, the elites,” who “lost all credibility” in the eyes of the people that see them as “corrupt,” he added stressing that snap elections “are very likely to happen soon” but will not resolve the crisis.

Moldova’s ruling elite has been the target of constant anti-government protests following a media report of a $1.5 billion banking fraud prior to 2014 parliamentary elections. The fraud drove the banks to the verge of insolvency and wiped out an estimated eighth of the country’s GDP.

In September 2015, the protesters demanded the then government as well as leaders of a number of state institutions, including the heads of the central bank, attorney general’s office, and the country’s anti-corruption commission, to step down. At that time, from 30,000 to 50,000 people gathered on the streets of Moldova’s capital. On September 21, Moldova’s central bank governor, Dorin Dragutanu, resigned following the protests.

In the view of the banking scandal and the subsequent political crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) withheld its funding to Moldova demanding a clean-up of its financial sector.