‘Velvet revolution’: Thousands of Moldovans rally against pro-EU govt, ‘forced bondage’ of Euro-integration

Thousands of anti-EU protesters have rallied in the capital of Moldova demanding the dissolution of parliament which they accuse of violating the constitution by “ignoring public opinion” and “secretly” discussing integration with the EU.

The massive protest was organized by the oppositionist Communist Party which claimed attendance of more than 50 thousand people. Other sources estimate that only around 15 thousands protesters flocked to the main square of Chisinau.

The authorities applied extra measures to stop additional crowds of protesters from reaching the capital, local media reported. Authorities were accused of using unprecedented steps to prevent the action, through stopping and collecting and registering data of drivers and the license plates of vehicles carrying protesters from country’s regions to Chisinau.

The opposition movement had arranged buses from the regions under the “campaign to Chisinau” slogan to participate in the main protest, claimed by the Communist Party as a “velvet revolution.”

“Before signing the agreements in Vilnius, the government is secretly holding talks with EU, ignoring public opinion, the Parliament, thus flagrantly violating the Constitution. Moldova is able to build its own democratic state without imposing West European standards,” the country’s former President and Communist leader Vladimir Voronin said at the rally, warning of government’s plans to negotiate a deal with the EU at a summit in Lithuania next week.

The demonstrators brought official flags and historical symbols of Moldova, Russia and the CIS bloc and demanded the resignation of the pro-European government and called for early elections. Voronin said that Russia could aid the Moldovan economy by providing cheaper energy as part of the Customs Unions agreement.

“Moldova can become a European country, only if it joined the Customs Union, which gives people a lot of opportunities for full development of the country,” Voronin said.

The opposition leader congratulated the people and government of Ukraine, who have shown “their political will and did not yield to the pressure of Brussels that wanted to draw the country into forced bondage.” He called on Moldova to follow in Kiev’s footsteps.

“Moldova should follow in Ukraine's footsteps and suspend the preparations for concluding an agreement with the EU,”
Voronin said.

The country’s Prime Minister Iurie Leanca however says his government has a different stance on EU integration.

“We respect Ukraine's decision to suspend preparations for signing the association agreement with the EU. But we have made our own choice and it remains unchanged,” Leanca said. 

Leanca called European integration “a priority model of development” saying that moving closer to the EU “does not run counter to relations with the CIS countries.”

On Wednesday, Deputy Foreign Affairs and European Integration Minister of Moldova Julian Groza said that Moldova’s cooperation with the EU will be strengthened, regardless of relations between Kiev and Brussels.

“Relations between Moldova with the EU will be consolidated regardless of relations with other countries,” Groza said, as Chisinau plans to stamp and later sign a partnership agreement with the EU at a summit in Vilnius next week.  
Moldovan protests followed Ukraine’s suspension of preparations for an association agreement between Kiev and Brussels that was also planned to be signed in Lithuanian capital. The decision was taken after Kiev weighed the questionable financial benefits from partnership with the EU and the possible negative effects of the association on its trade relations with Moscow. Ukraine’s decision to halt what is widely considered as a first step towards integration with the European bloc, was welcomed by Russia and heavily criticized by the EU.