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Blog for democracy, from the streets of Moldova

About the author

Moldovan investigative journalist for the Russian magazine New Times. Expelled from Russia in December 2007. One of the leaders of the ThinkMoldova democratic youth group.

From the editors of oDRussia:

From the start, Natalia Morar, a 26-year-old journalist born in Moldova, was allergic to autocracy. She arrived in Moscow in 2002 to study sociology at Lomonosov University. Her democratic instincts led her to work at  the "New Times" magazine, well-known for its anti-Putin views. In recent years few articles angered the Kremlin as much as Morar's investigative  piece "The Black Till of the Kremlin" about a vast illegal political slush  fund used to keep various parties dependent on the central authorities.  The Kremlin struck back. On her return from  Israel in December 2007 Morar was barred from entering Russia.  As the wife of a citizen of the Russian Federation they  both claimed the right to live in her husband's country. But when she landed at Moscow's Domodyedovo airport she was detained in the immigration zone for three days before being flown back to Moldova.There, Natalia soon joined the democratic movement in this, one of the poorest of post-Soviet states. She went on to become one of  the leaders of the democratic youth group Think Moldova. We present recent entries from her emotional blog over the last few days,since the Moldovan Central Election Commission announced that the Communist Party had won the parliamentary election held on 5 April. Morar was hoping that with this election Moldova would finally join the family of democratic nations. But her last entry was on 7 April. Since then she has fallen silent. No one in the capital Chisinau knows where she is. Her mobile phone is switched off.

                                                               

12.07 April 6, 2009

According to the exit polls at 7.0 p. 45.5% voted for the Communist party.
For the Liberal party - 13.9% for the liberal party and 13.9% for the Liberal Democrats. The "Moldova Noastre" alliance (also liberal) got 10%.

No other opposition parties got into parliament. So all together, the liberals got less votes than the communists. The communists have got at least 56 mandates out of 101. This will be enough for them to form a government on their own. Choosing a president's going to be their only problem.
Moldova is now the only modern European country where the communists have won three elections in a row.

  

12.39am April 7, 2009 I'm not a communist!

Six people. 10 minutes of brain-storming. Several hours of spreading information by networks, facebook, blogs, sms to friends and email links. All through the internet.

Then 15,000 young people took to the streets!!! This was only a few hours later, with no help from television or any other media.

Our group is called "I'm not a communist". It includes representatives of several NGOs - our association Think Moldova and the organisation Hyde Park. Only young people, no parties.

Our group declared the 6 April to be a Day of National Mourning. We called on all the young people who disagreed with the results of the parliamentary elections to come to the statue of Stefan cel Mare and light a candle. We sent word to 50 people. 15,000 came. They chanted "Down with the communists!", "No to censorship!", "Better dead than a communist!", "We will bring change!" After the candles were lit we marched to the government building, and from there to the Square of National Assembly. For several hours, Stefan cel Mare Street was closed to traffic.

We maintain that the elections were dishonest. We refuse to accept the results. What matters in elections is not just the day of voting, but the four years running up to it. All political parties should have had equal access to the media. As I've written before, there are only two channels in Moldova with nationwide coverage - the state channel Moldova 1 and NIT. NIT belongs to a close friend and business partner of the son of our president, leader of the communists. It looks as if we'll be announcing our main demand tomorrow- snap elections. But the opposition's got to have equal access to the media. To make sure this - among other things - happens, we demand that the state channel Moldova 1 is placed under public control.

Everything started getting rather chaotic. So we formed an organising committee, all young people, and asked everyone to disperse until tomorrow, 10am. We only had one megaphone today, and it wasn't easy to keep things coordinated. We took  a break, as we needed time to get prepared. All the opposition parties have already announced that they'll be taking part in our rally tomorrow.

So far so good. But we need to think.

In Bucharest, 250 people took to the streets in support of our action, mainly Moldovan citizens. They found out about it through the Internet and organised themselves. In the Romanian city of Iasi and the Moldovan city of Balti people also came out in protest.

7.32am April 7, 2009 Update. From the street

As you'll remember, 15,000 young people took to the streets just a few hours after our group "I am not a communist" (5 people so far) released information on the internet - blogs, networks, forums. You can read more about it in the last post.

Two and a half hours later we held a press conference where we announced our demands. Three hours later we came out on to the Square of National Assembly once more. Now all the opposition parties have joined us. I'll write about the demands in more detail later.

In brief, we want a public commission to be held primarily on television, but also in the press, to create a wide civil opposition coalition, and hold pre-term elections. The list may be changed, as the organizational committee is gathering in an hour.

Wish us success. We're going to need it.

One opposition party that got into parliament - the Liberal Democratic party - has already said that it does not recognize the election results. Representatives from two other opposition parties which also got into parliament (the Liberals and the "Moldova Noastra" Alliance) also came to our rally yesterday. Among them was the mayor of Chisinau Dorin Chirtoaca. So don't take any notice of what they're saying about us all being  "a bunch of losers who didn't get into parliament".

10.25am April 7, 2009 Update. News from the field.

Half an hour ago the General Prosecutor's office issued a statement that a case was being brought against the organisers of yesterday's rally under Article 205.

Immediately after the conference they went to a lawyer to get warrants for our arrest. After that they'll be going to the square.

The square's full already. The parties are making speeches. If our guys haven't been arrested they'll go there too. They're going to make a speech demanding the creation of a wide civil coalition made up of public organisations and parties.

So far the liberal democrats have been taking the initiative, but they're calling our guys all the time.

On the way to the press conference the organisers saw a long line of students from the Moldovan State University walking towards the square. The Prometheus lyceum was blocked by the police, to stop the students reaching the square.

We'll be posting information, whenever we can get online.It's not clear how things are going to develop. They may get arrested.

Update. They're being charged under article 285 (Republic of Moldova Criminal Code) - organizing mass disturbances.

This article carries 4-10 years or 8-15 years in jail.

Our guys are meeting with lawyers from Amnesty International at the moment.

They're discussing how they can appear on the square safely.

People keep on moving towards the square.

1.40pm 7 April, 2009  Chisinau city centre.

A large group of policemen were summoned to the government building and parliament.

According to various reports, there are already victims, very serious ones.

The windows of the government building have been smashed up to the 3rd floor. Furniture is being thrown out of the windows. The parliament building has been set alight.

The liberal-democratic party, which had got permission for today's demonstration can't control the situation.

We've sent out an appeal to representatives of all public organisations and parties to join our civil coalition. The Liberal Democrats and the Democratic Party have already announced that they'll join. We'll be holding a meeting about this today with the Liberal Party and the AMN.

Mobile phones are now being blocked on the square. All public transport in the country has been stopped. People aren't being allowed into the capital.

So far we're fine. Please don't call my mobile.

Text me. The connection keeps breaking off.

We keep saying that we want create a wide civil coalition, that we won't allow any party to have a monopoly.

We've now got details on the criminal case that has being taken out against us: they're accusing us of being responsible for a group of 10 people overturning over a shuttle taxi yesterday at 10 p.m. We say this is an act of provocation, as our rally ended at 8 pm. At 10 pm there were policemen and people from the prosecutor's office there (by the shuttle taxi), and they did not intervene.

 

We're sure that all the attempts to set fire to the parliament and break glass are acts of provocations directed against people who peacefully came out on to the street.  One death has already been reported.

People on the square are starting to light candles. I will try to make contact again later.

4.26pm 7 April, 2009    Statement!

We, the youth initiative that organized a rally of 15,000 people in Chisinau yesterday are starting to worry that the political parties that got into parliament will use this youth protest for their political ends.

Three political parties - the AMN, PLDM and the Liberal Party - have already signed a statement demanding a review of the elections results. They've left the square, although the Liberal Democratic Party received permission for today's event. We call on them, along with the other political parties, to stop playing their political games, and not to forget that it was not the activists of their parties that took to the street, but us, young people who organised themselves through the internet.

This is why on behalf of our group we announced from the tribune that today at 7 pm we were calling on the political leaders of all the opposition parties to come to National Assembly Square for a dialogue with the young people who took to the streets yesterday and those who try to exploit this protest for their own benefit.

We repeat that we do not support any political party and reject any attempts by them or a group of them to take this process into their own hands. Those parties which do not come to the Square of National Assembly today at 7 pm will show that they don't care about us - about the people on whose behalf they spoke from the tribune today.

We demand the formation of a civil coalition made up not just of politicians, but members of civil society.

If the parties insist on playing their political games, we call on our young people not to let themselves be manipulated by them.

This appeal got enormous support from the young people on the Square. After 7pm we're going to come and tell them how the talks the political parties went. We'd like to note that no one was hurt as a result of the flash mob we organised yesterday.

All the roads to Chisinau are blocked  now. People trying to get here from all over the country can't get into the capital. The internet is partly blocked, and mobile phone connections are almost completely down. Tear gas has already been used round the government building. Water cannons have also been used.

We've just been informed that a rally was held in support of us today in Paris at 7 pm opposite the Moldovan embassy and in the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca.

We repeat once again that our initiative group is not responsible for the looting today. The official organiser of today's rally is the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP).

The youth whom we called on are standing peacefully on the square. Today, during our press conference, disturbances began by the government building. We don't understand what the LDP, which were responsible for organising today's rally, were doing then.

This is why we call on everyone today, including the LDP, to come to the government building at the Square of National Assembly at 7pm. Our young people are expecting a constructive dialogue with them. We will ensure this.  

Update 

The people who have been on the square since morning just reported that they were called on to march to the government building by the leader of the LDP, which had permission for today's rally. We stayed on the square and called on the young people to return.

In the end, they only returned when the leaders of three parties - Filat, Chirtoaca and Urekian - went there with the young people.


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