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November 21 2013

Exposing the Invisible: Video Profiles of Info-Activists

A new multimedia project called Exposing the Invisible tells the stories of activists, hackers and journalists who work “at the new frontiers of investigation.” Through short films and text, the digital project by Tactical Technology Collective explores the missions of these experts and the tools they use to carry out their exposés.

The first film is about Paul Radu, a Romanian investigative journalist specialized in reporting on crime and corruption in the Balkans. (Subtitles in five different languages are also available.)

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

November 05 2013

‘Women Should Be Submissive', and Other Google Autocomplete Suggestions

A series of ads by UN Women, revealed in late October, used the Google Autocomplete feature to uncover widespread negative attitudes toward women. Global Voices followed reactions to the UN Women campaign and conducted its own experiment in different languages. The results of searches conducted both within the UN Women campaign and Global Voices revealed popular attitudes not only about women’s social and professional roles, but also about their sexuality, appearance and relationships with men.

UN Women ad featuring Google autocomplete suggestions for the phrase

UN Women ad featuring Google autocomplete suggestions for the phrase “women shouldn't”

The creators of the UN Women ads used search phrases like “women cannot”, “women shouldn’t”, “women should” and “women need to” completed by genuine Google search terms to highlight overwhelmingly negative stereotypes, sexist and highly discriminatory views held about women by society globally. The ads quickly went viral and sparked a heated discussion online. Last week, creators have announced that they are planning to expand the campaign in response to the mass online reaction.

The auto-complete function for searches, according to Google, predicts users’ queries based on the search activity of all users of the web as well as the content of indexed pages. The predictions may also be influenced by past searches of the particular user if they are signed into their Google account.

Global Voices asked its contributors from around the world to carry out Google searches using the same or similar phrases as those used in the UN Women campaign, in their own languages. The searches done between October 19 and October 25, 2013, revealed attitudes about the roles women are expected to take in society, often demonstrating the same global prejudices, but sometimes showing contradictions in different countries. Below are searches in 12 languages from different countries and continents:

Spanish

Chile

“Women should not…”. A screenshot by Silvia Viñas. October 21, 2013.

Women should not…
Women should not preach
Women should not work
Women should not talk in the congregation
Women should not drive

Peru

“Women cannot…” A screenshot by Juan Arellano. October 21, 2013.

Women cannot…
Women cannot preach
Women cannot be pastors
Women cannot donate blood
Women cannot live without man

Puerto Rico

“Women should…”. A screenshot by Firuzeh Shokooh Valle. October 21, 2013.

Women should…
Women should be submissive
Women should use the veil
Women should preach
Women should work

French

France

“Women should…”. A screenshot by Suzanne Lehn. October 21, 2013.

Women should…
women should stay at home
women should work
should women preach
women should wear skirts
women should be submissive
women should know
women should vote
women should stay at home
should women work
women should do the cooking

“Women don't know…”. A screen shot by Rayna St. October 21, 2013.

Women don’t know…
women don't know how to drive
women don't know what they want
women don't know how to be in love
women don't know how to read cards

Arabic

Egypt (similar results in Jordan)

“Woman cannot…”. A screenshot by Tarek Amr. October 21, 2013.

Woman cannot…
Woman cannot live without marriage
Woman cannot live without a man
Woman cannot keep a secret
Woman cannot interpret man's silence

Chinese

“Women cannot…”. A screenshot by Gloria Wang. October 21, 2013.

Women cannot…
Women cannot be too smart
Women can't drive
Women cannot give birth
10 topics women cannot discuss with their husbands

Romanian

“Women should not…”. A screenshot by Diana Lungu. October 21, 2013.

women should not…
women should be loved not understood
women should not be understood
women should not wear pants
what women should not do in bed

 Italian

Italy

“Women should…”. A screenshot by Gaia Resta. October 22, 2013.

Women should…
Women should stay at home
should play hard to get
should stay in the kitchen
should be subdued

“Women should not…”. A screenshot by Gaia Resta. October 22, 2013.

Women should not…
Women should not be understood
should not work
should not be understood but loved
should not read

 German

Germany

“Woman should not…”. A screenshot by Katrin Zinoun. October 21, 2013.

Woman should not…
Woman should not teach
My wife should not work

“Woman can…”. A screenshot by Katrin Zinoun. October 21, 2013.

Woman can….
Woman cannot come
Woman cannot get pregnant
Woman cannot cook
Woman cannot get a baby

 Hebrew

“Women don't…”. A screenshot by
Gilad Lotan. October 21, 2013.

Women don't…
Women don't work
Women are not modest
Women don't know how to drive
Women don't want to have kids

 Hungarian

“A woman should be…”. A screenshot by Marietta Le.
October 21, 2013.

A woman should be…
a woman should be a chef in the kitchen
a woman should be pretty and ruthless

 Danish

“Women cannot…”. A screenshot by Solana Larsen. October 20, 2013.

Women cannot…
Women cannot drive
Women cannot control vagina
Women cannot be color blind
Women cannot barbecue

In Danish, the searches for “women cannot” and “women can” yielded the same results.

Russian
Russia

“Women should not…”. A screenshot by Veronica Khokhlova. October 19, 2013.

Women should not…
Women should not be believed
Women should not lift heavy things
Women should not drink
Women should not be trusted

 English

The UK

“Women should…”. A screenshot by Annie Zaman. October 25, 2013.

Women should…
Women should be seen and not heard
Women should stay at home
Women should know their place

 Not all searches carried out by members of Global Voices community turned up negative terms. Nevertheless, the results of the experiment largely confirm UN Women’s worrying conclusion that a great deal of work still remains to be done in order to advance women’s rights and empowerment around the world.

October 04 2013

New Romanian Law Takes Aim at Bucharest's 65,000 Stray Dogs

A deadly dog attack on a four-year-old boy last month has brought new attention to an old problem in the Bucharest area in Romania. A pack of dogs attacked the boy near a park and the boy passed away from the injuries.

The city reportedly has about 65,000 stray dogs, and animal welfare officials say about 1,100 people were bitten by stray dogs in Bucharest in the first four months of 2013. Romanian law was changed on September 9, 2013, legalizing euthanasia after stray animals spend 14 days in public shelter. The Romanian Parliament has ruled that all stray dogs will be killed if, after these 14 days, they remain unadopted.

As Romanian Insider reported:

The Chamber of Deputies approved the law which sets a two week day deadline for stray dogs in shelters to be adopted, following which they will be put down. City Hall, however, retains the power to delay the lethal injection.

The law passed by a majority of votes, with MPs from the Democrat Liberal Party (PDL), the Social Democrat party (PSD) and the National Liberal Party (PNL) all in favour of euthanizing stray dogs.[...]

During the debates, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Valeriu Zgonea, said none of the NGOs protecting stray dogs had filed a request to attend the vote.

On that day, hundreds of Romanians rallied in support of a plan to kill stray dogs in the capital after a tragic accident.

Aurica Anghel, the grandmother of the little boy who was mauled to death, also attended Sunday's demonstrations. Ms. Anghel told the BBC:

I hope for a change for the better – I don't want to see dogs on the street anymore.

Another citizen present at the rally said that in her neighborhood packs of dogs roamed the streets after dark, adding:

I'm afraid to go out.

The mayor of Bucharest, Sorin Oprescu, first announced a referendum would be held on the matter sometime in October. The actual question that would have been asked through the local referendum would have been: “Do you agree with euthanasia for stray dogs captured on Bucharest’s public domain, who will not be adopted within the legal deadline?” In the meantime, Romanian Parliament passed the law and President Traian Basescu said he would issue a Presidential decree backing the law already passed by Parliament, which would be the last step in the bureaucratic process of making the new legislature final.

The case has fired up a fresh debate about the packs of stray dogs, a problem that has plagued Romania for years, some calling it the biggest stray dog problem any country in Europe has had since World War II. Romanians seem divided over the two main options available: euthanasia or sterilization. While many people say the authorities should be able to take radical measures, including putting down dogs, animal rights groups advocate neutering and spaying the dogs.

However, efforts in recent years to sterilize the dogs and return them to the streets have proven inefficient. More than 6,500 stray dogs were sterilized in Bucharest last year, at the cost of some 200,000 euros (about 270,000 US dollars). Meanwhile, local authorities face severe overcrowding at city dog pounds and lack the funding needed to build and run more shelters.

The blog Romanian Journalist reported that new polls show that Romanian citizens would also most likely back the new euthanasia law:

New poll shows over one third of the Romanians (34,7%) believe stray dogs have to be sterilized and placed in shelters, 31,8% say they should be adopted or euthanized, while 25% say the solution for stray dogs is euthanasia.

But social networks are covered with thousands of messages describing peoples’ distress at the Romanian government's decision. In protest, thousands have changed their Facebook profile page to show a bright red dog paw under the name “Red Card For Romania”.

In protest, thousands netizens have changed their Facebook profile page to show the bright red dog paw

In protest of Romania's plan to euthanize stray dogs, thousands of netizens have changed their Facebook profile page to show this bright red dog paw.

Founder and President of Save the Dogs and Other Animals, Sara Turetta, tweeted:

A personal trainer from Italy, Angel Fernandez, reported a cruel incident on Twitter:

#ROMANIA #DOGS DECAPITATED, MASSACRED…stop the genocide of stray dogs in Romania #romaniastopanimalabuse

Twitter user and journalist Isabella P.P, along with many others, shared a link to a petition to stop the new law and what many are calling an open “massacre” of stray animals:

Mina*Bad Yoga Kitty* reported about the involvement of celebrities regarding this case:

August 17 2013

Romania to Open Communist Leader Ceausescu's Execution Site to Tourists

According to reports in the Romanian press, Romania is about to turn the former military base Targoviste, the site where former Romanian communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu was executed, into a tourist attraction.

The execution site of Ceausescu, deemed by many to have been a notorious Romanian dictator, will be open to the public next month.

Italian journalist Giampaolo Poniciappi was among those who announced the unusual news on Twitter:

#Romania, the barracks where the #Ceausescu‘s were shot turns into a museum open to tourists

— Giampaolo Poniciappi (@Infoconte) August 10, 2013

Ceausescu became general secretary of the Romanian Communist Party in 1965 and served as Romania’s President from 1967 to 1989, during which time he suppressed any and all opposition using brutal force.

photo used under Creative Commons license.

Archive photo of Ceausescu during is days as President of Romania; photo used under Creative Commons license.

Ceausescu and his wife Elena fled Bucharest in a helicopter after angry crowds gathered in front of the Communist Party headquarters in the final days of the Romanian Revolution on December 22, 1989. The army soon intercepted them and ordered a three-day trial by a special military tribunal. The main charge was genocide, and Ceausescu was blamed for the deaths of some 60,000 people — though historians have disputed that figure. The court sentenced the pair to death by firing squad on Christmas Day in 1989.

A soldier standing guard in the proceedings was ordered to take the Ceaușescus out back one by one and shoot them, but the Ceaușescus demanded to die together. The soldiers agreed to this and began to tie their hands behind their backs, which the Ceaușescus protested against, but were powerless to prevent. A TV crew who were to film the execution only managed to catch the end of the terrible event, as the Ceaușescus lay on the ground shrouded by dust that was kicked up by the bullets striking the wall and ground.

Before his sentence was carried out, Nicolae Ceaușescu sang “The Internationale” while being led to stand against the wall before the firing squad. After the shooting, the bodies were covered with canvases.

The Ceaușescus were the last people to be executed in Romania before the abolition of capital punishment on 7 January 1990. Their graves are located in Ghencea Cemetery in Bucharest. They are buried on opposite sides of a path. The graves themselves are unassuming, but they tend to be covered in flowers and symbols of the regime. More than 20 years after their death, the Ceausescu couple has not ceased to attract the attention of the public.

Elena Ceausescu was the object of a personality cult as intense as that of her husband, which exalted her as the “Mother of the Nation.” By all accounts, her vanity and desire for honors exceeded that of her husband. As with her husband, Romanian Television was under strict orders to take great care portraying her on screen. For instance, she was never supposed to be shown in profile because of her homely appearance (though it's been said she had been very attractive in her youth) and large nose. Publicly, Ceaușescu said that it was an honor to be referred to as “comrade”, but Romanian expatriates in the United States frequently referred to her as “Madame Ceaușescu” with great disdain.

The huge interest in this bizarre tourist destination is shown in the reactions of netizens, who conveyed this on social networks. However, there aren't either positive or negative reactions concerning this unusual decision by the Romanian government yet. Interest among netizens is certainly large, but most seem to be simply surprised and waiting to see what will happen in September when it opens.

Laura Desere, a journalist covering international affairs, tweeted the news:

An Egyptian Twitter user, Essam Man, said:

@AlMasryAlYoum: #Romania #Ceausescu The opening of the place where the execution of Ceausescu and his wife took place, venue open in Septhttp://t.co/e3kfug0quG@M_abd_elkhalek

— daydreamer … (@EssamMan) August 11, 2013

Teacher and translator Paul-Sorin Tita from Romania added:

Twitter user Antonio Silva:

Italian jornalist Matteo Pazzaglia has a rarely seen opinion:

In good and bad, Nicolae #Ceausescu was the onl president to secure a strong identity for #Romania. http://t.co/Hl39l1IwqC

— Matteo Pazzaglia (@cimbolano) July 24, 2013

In the meantime, in Romania, workers have completely restored the unlikely attraction near the central Romanian town of Targoviste to its original state so it will look just as it did when Ceausescu and his wife Elena met their end at the hands of a firing squad and, reportedly, some 120 bullets.

“Visitors will be able to see the wall where the Ceausescus were shot,” Ovidiu Carstina, the director of the museum site, told Bucharest-based Mediafax news agency. “The inside of the building has been repainted in the same colors as in 1989, and the furniture will be the same. We are recreating both the room where the improvised trail took place and the bedroom where they spent their last night.”

The site will also feature an exhibition detailing the structure’s earlier history as a cavalry school from 1893 to 1914. Officials said they decided to open it to the public this September after growing demand from foreign tourists. Tickets will go for just seven Romanian leu (two US dollars).

July 13 2013

Tragedy Ignites Online Friendship Between Romanians and Montenegrins

In one of the most tragic road accidents ever seen in Montenegro, 18 Romanian nationals lost their lives and 29 were injured on June 23, 2013 when a Romanian bus full of tourists ran off the Grlo bridge 30 kilometers away from the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica into a 40-meter-deep ravine of the Morača canyon.

News of the accident soon spread, and due to the generosity of the Montenegro people toward the victims and their families, so did an outpouring of messages of gratitude, empathy, solidarity and adoration soon ensued on social networks from both countries.

One of the most shared images on social networks related to this tragic event; image courtesy of Lazarica.

One of the most shared images on social networks related to this tragic event. Image by Lazarica.

On Facebook, two pages soon appeared to thank Montenegro's citizens for their help and support. The pages, titled Montenegro, Respectful Thanks [ro], with more than 5,000 fans to date, and Thank You, Montenegro [ro] are overflowing with messages of thanks from Romanian citizens and images of Montenegrin citizens lending a helping hand in the aftermath of the tragic incident.

Twitter also saw an abundance of messages and interactions of true friendship and connection. Messages like Catalin Iote‘s (@Catalin_IoteR5) from Romania became a common and heartwarming site on Twitter:

@Catalin_IoteR5#Montenegro you're the best! We, #Romania are so happy because you are near by us.

Twitter user Eliza (@CronicileElizei) from Romania also expressed her gratitude:

@CronicileElizei: I just wanted to thank to our wonderful friends in #Montenegro that helped our people injured in a bus accident.#Romania is really grateful!

Evelina (@MissEveBaroiu) from Bucharest, like many others, wanted to show her respect and renewed faith in humanity in the region:

@MissEveBaroiu: Respect Montenegro! Thank you for showing us that,regardless of race, nationality and language,we all are human beings! #Montenegro #Romania

Social media users from across Montenegro reciprocated the feeling of friendship, such as user Klausbites from Podgorica who included one of the most shared images from Romania related to this event, shown below:

Romania, your welcome! #montenegro #romania

One of the most shared images on social networks and blogs from Romania.

One of the most shared images on social networks and blogs from Romania.

Diplomats and public officials of the two countries are also collaborating extensively in the wake of this unfortunate event that brought the two countries closer together, while the survivors, mostly pensioners from Romania on holiday in Montenegro, were first treated in hospital in Podgorica, then transferred to Romania by the Romanian government.

May 01 2013

Tensions Grow at Moldova-Transnistria Security Zone

Tensions increased during the night of April 26-27 in the Security Zone of the Republic of Moldova, according to Moldovan media reports. The Security Zone was set up at the end of the Transnistrian war (March-July 1992), a conflict that aimed to put an end to the separatist movements in Moldova’s Eastern part and regain the breakaway republic of Transnistria.

Last week, the Transnistrian authorities unilaterally installed two checkpoints between the village of Varniţa (a commune that remains controlled by the Moldovan government) and the city of Bender (controlled by the separatist authorities of Transnistria). This led to clashes between Moldovan civilians, who tried to remove the checkpoints, and the Transnistrian militia, who intervened to stop them. The conflict was brought to an end a few hours later, by the Unified Control Commission, a joint mechanism established to monitor, among other things, the Security Zone. While Transnistria claimed that the new checkpoints were aimed at combatting smuggling, the reactions from the Moldovan netizens highlight some of the reasons why the tensions arose.

Breakaway Transnistria, Wikimedia Commons

A map of Moldova and the breakaway region of Transnistria, Wikimedia Commons

Dragoș Galbur believes this was an attempt at occupation. He writes [ro]:

I could not sleep until 4 am, following live what was happening in Varnița, where several Russian soldiers and Transnistrian militians attacked the territory of the Republic of Moldova. And when I say ‘attacked', I know what I am saying. You cannot come in military uniforms to a land that does not belong to you, (according to the Moscow peace treaty) and start hitting the people from Varnița, installing your wagons under the pretext that you are establishing a checkpoint there. This is called occupation!

Galbur is disappointed by the reactions of the Moldovan officials:

Besides Facebook, in [Chișinău, the capital of Moldova] it was very quiet. Not a single reaction, nothing. No one was picking up the phone. If there had been a shooting by a careless participant, for sure the scenario from 1992 would have repeated itself. But who cares? In Chișinău, there is a big fight, for money and power.

The blogger refers to the deep political crisis affecting Moldova. After losing its government earlier this year, last week Moldovans watched the speaker of the parliament being dismissed.

A recent opinion poll from Moldova (April 2013) uncovers that 81 percent of the surveyed population believe that the country is not governed by the will of the people and 84 percent affirm that the country is heading into the wrong direction; 82 percent of the respondents are also not happy with how the country's ruling administration is dealing with the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict.

The same dissatisfaction is voiced by journalist and blogger Andrei Cibotaru, who thinks that the Alliance for European Integration (AIE) deserves to be called the Alliance for the Eternal Intermission, because of the constant power struggle, which left Moldova without a president for nearly two years, then without a prime minister, and now also without a speaker of the Parliament.

Cibotaru writes [ro]:

Meanwhile, they [AIE] they are intimidating us with the anticipated elections. They keep saying that if the elections come, we will not win, but the communists will. But why should we (and not them!) be scared of that?

The political comeback of the Communist Party might as well be a realistic scenario.

Asked who they would vote for should there be parliamentary elections next Sunday, 32.5 percent of the respondents in the April opinion poll chose the Communist Party, as opposed to the current ruling parties, which gained respectively: 12.6 percent (the Liberal Democratic Party), 10.5% (the Liberal Party) and 6.8% (the Democratic Party).

Journalist and blogger Vitalie Cojocari writes [ro] that “Transnistria is lost forever for Moldova”:

[...] Only a stupid person cannot see this. Transnistria exists as an independent state and does not need the recognition of the entire world, as long as its world is Mother Russia. Transnistria does not represent Moldova and only the naives from the Chișinău-based NGOs still consider the territory across [the Nistru] to belong to the Moldovans. It cannot be otherwise. Twenty years after the war, in Transnistria a new generation was born. This generation has grown and for them it is evident that there exists Moldova, there exists Transnistria and these two entities are completely different states.

Cojocari suggests there are two solutions for Transnistria – one is simple and rapid, and the other one tough and protracted:

The difficult one entails getting the Transnistrians to want to unite with the Moldovans. For this, however, the Moldovan economy needs to be booming, people need to have everything, and life should be a small paradise. Dear theoreticians of coffee-breaks, you will not convince the people on the left bank of the Nistru to unite with the right bank if you don't offer them an alternative. What could we give them? Poverty? Bad roads? The easy solution is to give up Transnistria. It is only in our way. We have a goal. We have to be part of the European Union. With them [Transnistria], we will not be able to do it, without them – yes. I only feel sorry about one thing. These poor people from Varniţa and other villages, forgotten by the authorities from Chişinău.

Meanwhile, popular support for the European Integration of Moldova has decreased in the past few years. This year's opinion poll shows that citizens views and support are equally split regarding integration with the European Union (51 percent) and a Russian Union (52 percent).

In a blogpost entitled ‘Russian Army go home,’ blogger Nicu Gușan is convinced that the only hope lies not in the ruling political class, but in Moldova's citizens:

The Russian military will not take even a single piece of this already crippled republic! This time, despite the impotence of our authorities, we will not allow for another part of our territory to be taken under Russian occupation. Today's citizens will stay on guard just like they stayed in 1992 and thanks to whom this republic has not been entirely occupied.

March 18 2013

Welcome Spring and Good-bye Evil Eye

File:Martenitsa E5.jpg

Martenitsas on a blossoming tree.
Source: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Μάρτης [el], мартеница [bg], мартинка [mk], mărțișor [ru]…however you call it, an ancient tradition [el] with multiple variations that takes place in the Balkans. So, weave your red-and-white threads for protection against the “evil eye” or to welcome Spring!

(more…)

March 11 2013

Moldova Without Government: What's Next – East or West?

On March 5, Moldova’s Parliament passed a no-confidence motion, dismissing [ro] the country's pro-European three-party coalition government led by Vlad Filat, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party. The 54 votes in favour of the motion came from the Communist Party, the ruling coalition's member Democratic Party and several independent MPs. The government fell amid allegations of corruption and deep rivalries within the ruling Alliance for European Integration (AIE). While the three parties that formed the government on two subsequent occasions have still to figure out a way out of this deadlock, the Communist Party has played out as the overall winner and has high hopes of making a comeback to power.

Vlad Filat, the dismissed prime minister. Photo by Alexander Savinov, 2009 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Vlad Filat, the dismissed Prime Minister. Photo by Alexander Savinov, 2009 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Just a few weeks earlier, Moldova seemed to be the greatest hope on the European Union’s Eastern borders.

Now, the post-Soviet state might be thrown back into the eternal Russia-Europe power game and is headed for a serious political crisis. The Constitution states that if the Parliament fails twice within the next 45 days to reach an agreement to form a new government, it will be dissolved and the country could face early elections, a much-too-frequent exercise in the young state’s history.

Voices from Brussels immediately called on Moldova’s political elite to further pursue integration with the European Union.

The blogosphere seems to have grasped the behind-the-scenes party politics that led to the dismissal of Vlad Filat’s cabinet of ministers.

Sorin Hadârcă writes this [ro] in a piece entitled “Absurdistan”:

Today I sat and enjoyed the wonderful play “The Dismissal of the Government,” orchestrated by the Democratic Party. I was shocked by the cynicism of some politicians who, in order to cover up the traces of a crime, did not hesitate to sacrifice the Moldovans’ chances to a decent life.

The author refers to a recent scandal that broke out [ro] when the Liberal Democratic Party demanded the resignation of the Prosecutor General (an appointee of the Democratic Party), who, together with other high-profile members of the government, is alleged to have been involved in the cover-up of a young man's hunting-related shooting death. This resulted in party-driven revenge moves by the Democratic Party, which in turn launched investigations of power abuse against ministers appointed by the Liberal Democratic Party.

Andrei Fornea brings the same line of thought to the public attention. He asks [ro]:

Do you really believe that the Government was dismissed because it did not fulfill its action plan, or because it built bad roads, or because it did not raise salaries or pensions? Of course, not. So all that is left is to enjoy the fact that an oligarch has demonstrated his real capacities…

Supporters of Moldova’s pro-European path are cautious of the country’s reform agenda. Denis Cenușă writes [ro]:

It seems that there is no voice that can convince the Moldovan oligarchs that any step back can lead to another 5-10 years wasted for reform and advancement to a level compatible with the status of an EU candidate country.

Igor Casu fears [ro] that Moldova might lose its European direction:

… all the three parties of the AIE have but to lose from the anticipated elections, and by extension and more important, the Republic of Moldova as whole has to lose, and will fall back into the sphere of the Russian interests, and the West will turn its back for an indefinite time.

The Civic Platform “Acțiunea 2012″ is concerned [ro] that the Communist Party, which ruled the country between 2001-2009, could return to power:

An eventual Communist government will reengage in politics against all citizens of the Republic of Moldova, just to divert Chișinău's European orientation towards failed geopolitical projects.

Nicolae Ciobanu believes [ro] that the only solution is a new leader:

We need a Hero who would achieve complete order in this country, a Hero who would release the poor people who stole small things from prisons, so that they can feed their families, and fill up [these prisons] with the ruling cheats and beasts, of which there are many, far too many for such a small country. We need a Hero who will bring the country out of the ruin and in line with the rest of the developed states.

One thing is clear: the citizens, on the streets or online, are tired of watching the same politicians repeating the same mistakes.

Journalist and blogger Andrei Cibotaru writes [ro]:

This Alliance has tried everything: anticipated elections, a referendum, a presidential crisis, an algorithm, a motion… I think no one until now has tried so many pirouettes in Moldovan politics. If they bring it back to life one more time, I will be forever convinced that I’m very stupid in politics.

After the government's dismissal, the Moldovan journalists’ first reactions on Facebook were also not too hopeful.

Viorel Mardare wrote [ro]:

When I was entering the shower, there was still a government. I came out of the shower – the government is gone. Tomorrow I will be afraid to wash myself.

Daria Gvindjia wrote [ru]:

Well, now it is clearly time to leave. If I could catapult myself away from this country, I would. Somehow, I've become completely unpatriotic.

Lina Grau quoted [ro] her 10-year-old daughter:

My daughter, 10 years old, after I explained what's happening in the country: “Don’t these people understand that if they fight, the entire nation suffers?”

January 29 2013

Spain: Catalonia's “Declaration of Sovereignty” Translated into 36 Languages

On January 23, 2013, amid rising tensions with the Spanish government, the regional parliament of Catalonia approved by majority vote a Declaration of Sovereignty [ca] — seen widely as a prelude to a referendum on independence, expected to be held by 2014. Thanks to a diverse team of collaborators, the online Catalan-language publication Vilaweb [ca] has been able to publish the document in thirty-six languages.
(more…)

December 25 2012

Journalists, Opposition Thrown Out of Macedonian Parliament Amid Street Protests

On Monday, Dec. 24, the Macedonian capital Skopje was shaken by a violent protest - and a counter-protest - related to the Parliament's approval of the 2013 state budget (en, en).

Youth Radio MOF provided this short summary [mk]

1. The direct motive for the outburst of (institutional and physical) violence was the opposition's blocking of the adoption of the budget in the Parliament, which was conducted through the submission of numerous proposed amendments, a method previously perfected by a junior government partner […]. The opposition proposed a plan of saving EUR 240 million planned for unnecessary expenses and luxury. [The total budget is EUR 2.7 billion.] They also announced the withdrawal of the amendments if the government accepted their saving proposal. The ruling party, however, claimed that by blocking the budget, the opposition was ruining the state and denying funds for the pensioners, social welfare cases, farmers, students, artists… Both sides did not budge, and several protests against the opposition took place in the past few days, demanding its leader to leave politics…

Policeman in Skopje, Macedonia, wipping splashed egg from helmet.

A police officer who received an egg aimed at the opposition protesters. From an extensive hi-res photo gallery by Vanco Dzambaski, CC BY-NC-SA.

The proposed cutting of expenses mainly referred to the new construction within Skopje 2014 project, which earned the city the title of the “Kitsch capital of the Balkans” in the international media, thanks to a widely circulated AP story (en, ro, also it). One of the counter-protests included “the artists,” organized by the government-appointed directors of Skopje's Macedonian-language theaters, ballet, and national folk ensemble. When asked if it was normal for a theater that was supposed to require EUR 4.5 million to actually receive EUR 27 million, with additional EUR 10 million budgeted for 2013, Jelena Zhugic, director of Theater “Comedy” replied [mk]: “Milk and honey also did not flow in the streets of France when they were building their castles.” Social network users quickly drew comparisons with the the infamous pre-French Revolution quote: “Let them eat cake.”

Radio MOF explanation continued:

2. Last weekend, the Assembly President Trajko Veljanovski returned the budget to the PM's Cabinet, which urgently adopted it with slight modifications, and returned it to the Assembly. It bypassed the Finances and Budget Committee, and was placed directly to a plenary session instead. This set a precedent which the opposition deemed “contrary to Constitution, Rules of Procedure and the laws.”

Bloggers TheRealPsmst and Goran Arsov concurred, quoting [mk] the Rules of Procedure and other relevant legislature [mk]. Radio MOF concluded:

3. Supporters of the government and the opposition announced protests in front of the Parliament at the same time. The tense atmosphere with the police buffer in between, both groups exchanged insults and projectiles (stones, eggs, apples, [potatoes]). Around 20 protesters and 11 policemen were injured.

An opposition protester who received a head injury by an object hurled by the pro-government counter-protesters. Photo by Vancho Dzhambaski, CC BY-NC-SA.

One of the government MPs was videotaped [mk] defiantly marching behind the police cordon, making obscene gestures at the protesters and yelling, “Die! Die!”

Amdi Bajram, MP from the government coalition, “addressing” the protesters. Photo by Vancho Dzambaski, CC BY-NC-SA.

At one point, in response to missile attacks, opposition protesters broke the first line of the police cordon and were stopped by force. Photo by V. Dzambaski, CC BY-NC-SA

Meanwhile, inside the Parliament [sq], the security detail threw out the resident journalists, and most of the opposition MPs who tried to physically block the upcoming session. Three of them ended up in hospital [mk]. Then, the new budget was passed with 65 “yes” votes and 4 “against,” out of 123 MPs. The protest dispersed after the news of the adoption of the budget, except for a lone young man who undressed in front of the police and was arrested, unlike a police-approved government supporter.

The unrest in the Parliament included a serious denial of freedom of expression, which some international media covering the events of the day (en, en) have failed to mention.

NGO Civil–Center for Freedom has strongly condemend the violence against citizens, their parliamentarian representatives and journalists [en, mk, sq]:

Chaos and violence took place in Macedonia today. Officers of the security in the Macedonian Parliament acted in an unspeakable manner and physically attacked people’s representatives of the opposition, beating and dragging them through the corridors.

Before the eyes of the Macedonian public and the world, all rules and principles of democracy, the Constitution and the laws have been suspended.

[…]

Government officials and the parliamentary majority, security and police authorities, as well as officers of these structures who acted violently must immediately apologize to the Macedonian citizens and take responsibility for their actions.

The Journalists' Trade Union protested [mk], and the Association of Journalists of Macedonia issued the following statement [en, mk, sq]:

The Association of Journalists of Macedonia strongly condemns today's incident in the Parliament, where journalists were forcefully expelled from the “gallery room” from which they were following the plenary session. With this act, the Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of expression and media freedom, was grossly violated.

The authorities who gave the orders for this shameful act have formalized censorship and decided what must and what must not to be reported by the journalists. The forcibly evicted journalists did nothing to cause the reaction of the security, nor was there a legal basis for their removal.

We were removed in order not to witness the removal of the opposition MPs from the sessions. This is a case that should not go unpunished.

For these reasons, the Board of AJM stops all the negotiations with the government until the return of the constitutional order in Macedonia, and until the perpetrators and the authorities of this shameful behavior are not identified and punished according to the law.

AJM will use all the legal mechanisms to protect the freedom of expression and media freedom. Also, we will alert the domestic and foreign public about these events in the Parliament.

Police with dogs. Monuments in background. Skopje, Macedonia. Photo by Vachno Dzambaski, CC BY-NC-SA.

The police in front of the Macedonian Parliament after the protests on Dec. 24, 2012. Photo by Vachno Dzambaski, CC BY-NC-SA.

The mood on the social networks was grim during the day and in the evening, with people expressing disappointment and disgust. A representative pessimistic blog post is listing reasons “Why I would immediately leave this country” [mk].

June 29 2012

Moldova, Transnistria, Gagauzia: “Get to Know Your Neighbor”

On June 30, young social media activists from the cities of Chișinău and Bălți, and from Transnistria and Gagauzia, are meeting for a “get to know your neighbor” event [ro, ru], to discuss issues relevant for young people who grew up separated by geopolitics and the role of social networks and the Internet in their lives, as well as to brainstorm social initiatives that they could carry out together.

March 30 2012

Moldova: The 917-Day Marathon to Elect the President is Over

917 days without a president might bring Moldova a Guinness record. After two and a half years of repeated failures to elect the head of state, the Moldovan politicians finally managed on March 16 to give the country its new president, Nicolae Timofti. But will this former judge and a compromise figure become the leader of the nation? The opinions of the citizens are as diverse as the nation itself.

The unknown public persona of the new Moldovan president has raised many doubts in the society. Nicolae Timofti, former chairman of the Supreme Council of Magistrates, was elected president in the country's legislative forum after a long-sought compromise vote between the ruling Alliance for European Integration [AIE] and three former communist parliamentarians.

After 917 days without a president, the parliament elects a compromise figure, Nicolae Timofti, as the chief of state. Photo by Andrian.gavrilita, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Journalist and blogger Vitalie Cojocari voices some of the society's doubts regarding Timofti [ro]:

Who is this Mr. Nicolae Timofti? How honest and how good of a professional is he, considering that he comes from the most corrupted system in Moldova, the judiciary system? How much real power will the current president have? Will he be able to say anything against the ones who placed him in this position? These are the questions to which we do not have an answer. Not yet.

The president's professional background in the judiciary branch is clearly perceived as very negative by the netizens. Alex Cozer writes [ro]:

I do not understand how it is possible to take a judge who has held important positions in the Moldovan judicial system in the recent years and make him the chief of state. I do not understand, because the justice system is by far the most corrupted domain in the Republic of Moldova. In particular, it is because of the mega-corrupted justice that we are in this misery today. […] According to the last opinion poll conducted by IPP [Institute for Public Policy], only 1 percent of Moldovans trust the judiciary, and that is because of this Nicolae Timofti as well.

Ion Marandici mentions on Facebook that the new president is merely a result of a political game:

After three years of failures, the Moldovan parliament finally elected a president. The fact that an informed observer like me does not know anything about the new president's policy preferences is the best illustration of how politics works in a parliamentary republic.

Victor Druţă reflects the thoughts of the citizens who have positive expectations from the new president [ro]:

… at the helm of the state I wanted a well-known and highly appreciated public personality. An intellectual to whose speech I would not be ashamed to listen to. I wanted a president with integrity, who will not let himself be humiliated and who could lend dignity to all those many and deprived. A person of justice, who could be a moral standard to the nation. A person who will not divide, but unite, unite all citizens in a nation, regardless of their languages and political orientation. I want to believe with all my heart that Nicolae Timofti will be just the president this country desires.

On the other hand, the disillusion with the ruling political elite of the country seems to be a strong argument for the voiced concerns towards the long-awaited president.

Vitalie Cojocaru writes [ro]:

No, Mr. President, I do not feel that you are my president. I did not elect you. You were elected by the clique of politicians who realized that they have to put aside for a moment the hatred that keeps them going.

In a similar line of thought, Sorin Hadârcă gives the benefit of the doubt to the new president, but also draws attention to the fact that the neutral president could be lured by the discredited political class [ro]:

Not being a political figure well-known to the mass audience, I was afraid that the convenience for those in power would be the only atribute of the new president. […] This fear has faded away from the moment during the inauguration speech when I caught new notions, non-specific to the vocabulary of the Moldovan political elite. President Timofti speaks of truth, happiness, fulfilled dreams. […] I am not a politician by character, the president admits honestly, unaware of the fact that at the moment “not being a politician” is by far the best PR strategy in the conditions of a compromised political situation. I am wondering what will happen once Mr. President realizes the success of this message. Will he eventually become a politician? We will live and see.

Despite the rally organized by the Communist Party on the day of the elections to protest the legitimacy of the electoral act, more than anything, citizens are happy that the 917-day marathon to elect the president has come to an end.

Bogdan Țîrdea declares that the election of the president is a wake-up call for the political class and a reminder that they have no more excuses for not moving ahead with the reforms [ro]:

The two-year show of electing the president is over. That's it. The Alliance for European Integration has lost the last argument that allowed them to justify themselves for the poverty, unemployment, growing inflation and increasing external debt, etc. Now they have all the strings and supreme power. Consequently, also the responsibility. Now they can no longer organize hundreds of TV shows on the same topic, thousands of articles on the one and only problem, hundres of declarations and theatre plays. In short, they can no longer set a fake public agenda to manipulate the electorate.

Andrei Fornea believes the election of the president gives the politicians and the country one more chance [ro]:

Moldova has a president and the Alliance for European Integration has caught in the last moment the chance to not compromise the Moldovan political class forever. AIE has long ago lost my trust and every day of stagnation, uncertainty and groundless fights has meant new disappointments. Moldova has one more chance, perhaps the last one, and now it is important to see how the ruling leaders will use it. I believe there is no more room for mistakes, or for petty, narrow party interests, or for the search for new sponsors for an upcoming elections. Having in their hands all the state institutions and three more years ahead of them, there are no more excuses possible.

January 31 2012

Moldova: Anti-Government Protests Receive Little Endorsement From Netizens

For the past two weeks, Moldovans have been out in the streets, protesting. The organizers of the rallies - several politicians who have joined the Committee to Defend the Constitution and Democracy - are demanding the resignation of the government and early elections.

The rallies were triggered by the announced decision of the authorities to hold a referendum in mid-spring on amending the constitution in an attempt to make it possible to elect the Moldovan president by a simple parliamentary majority. The country does not have a president since 2009. Several previous attempts of the parliament to elect the nation’s leader have failed, resulting twice in early elections and an unsuccessful referendum.

While more protests have been announced to take place every weekend in the coming months and to be supported by the former ruling Communist party, and despite the overall dissatisfaction within the society with the ruling alliance and its inability to elect the head of state, the current anti-government protests have received very little endorsement from Moldova's online community.

The Facebook group “Down with the oligarchs' government!,” created by the protest organizers, hasn't managed to reach even 300 supporters, and several people have written on the wall with the request not to be invited to the protests.

Photo taken by blogger Eugen Luchianiuc on the first day of the protests on 22 January 2012

The first day of the protests in Chisinau, Moldova - January 22, 2012. Photo by blogger Eugen Luchianiuc (http://luchianiuc.com/blog/), used with permission.

In a comment posted to Eugen Luchianiuc’s Facebook photo of the first protests, user Mircea Scinteianu writes [ro]:

The photo is very good! Congratulations to the author. The event, however, is not worth a second of attention. […]

The same appeal to ignore the organizers can be read in other online comments. While commenting on a news story about the protests held on Sunday, January 29, user Lupan posts:

DO NOT WRITE ANYTHING ANYMORE!

His arguments refer to the organizers of the protests, the Communist Party and the Christian Democratic People’s Party. According to him:

They do not mean anything to us, let’s demonstrate this to them by not commenting and by not paying attention to them anymore.

Netizens seem to have their well-grounded reasons to stay aside from the ongoing protests, and their arguments have nothing to do with the yellow-code alert of cold temperature rising up to -20°C these days in Moldova’s capital.

User janaad.arc comments online:

Yes, in 2005 my entire family and I believed in Rosca [the leader of the Christian Democratic People’s Party, one of the main organizers of the protests], we voted for him at the elections, we thought he was honest and wanted to do something for this little country, but when I saw him create a coalition with Voronin [the former Communist president], I lost all my faith in this person, he became a political corpse, traitor of the nation and the country…

For blogger Radu Marian, too, the man behind the protests seems to be the reason for distrust. He writes [ro]:

Oh well, I have reached the end of my patience and the one to blame is: that bearded face which we have all seen these days on TV: Rosca – this hypocrite, for whom at the age of 12 I used to go out every day in the rain and wind to fight for a country without communism. Now, this man is disturbing my ears with his pathetic discourses in the main square about how well he licks the communists’ bottoms, at the masquerade someone called “big protests”!

He continues:

Yes! People have the right to be dissatisfied – things are going crazy in our politics and life! Yes! People are right to go out and protest!

But not at the appeal of a communist flatterer, without any verticality… How would Rosca be able to gather 2,000 people in the streets (and those being Russian speakers)? This makes one doubt even gravitation on earth. Seriously, Rosca would not be able to convince even 3 giraffes to come to the protests!

Nonetheless, netizens seem to agree that the ruling coalition has to resign. User bunica90 writes:

The current government has long exceeded its legal mandate offered by the people, has parasitized all state institution and during three years, under the cover of the pro-European slogans, has controlled all fluxes of money entering the Republic of Moldova. These are the reasons for which the alliance has to leave the power.

January 25 2012

Romania: “I, the Citizen”

Street protests in Romania have been going on for over a week now. People are demanding early elections, and the talk continues in the Romanian on-line space on who the protesters are, what they want and what the aftermath of the protests will be. People in the streets do not yet have a leader, but they nevertheless have a powerful voice - and change seems to start happening.

On Monday, January 23, Prime Minister Emil Boc fired the Foreign Affairs Minister Teodor Baconschi – a week after the latter posted this on his personal blog [ro]:

One thing is becoming ever more clear for Romanians with common sense. A life-and-death fight has started between the forces of the past and the project of a new Romania. The opposition has finally activated the entire arsenal inherited from the communists: armed punks, misinformation, hate propaganda. […] This year will be crucial for Romania. The choice is simple: reform, responsibility and safety - or involution, populism and the rule of a club. But the choice will be made by the earnest Romania, the hard-working Romania, the forward-looking Romania, and not by the violent and inept slums lined up, just like the miners of the past, behind the heirs of the former communist [Securitate].

Journalist Bogdan Ciuclaru writes [ro] about citizen responsibility, which Romanians, tired of being listened to only during election campaigns, are starting to exercise:

I too am disappointed by Traian Basescu and I am not willing to allow the couple [Victor Ponta and Crin Antonescu, the two main opposition leaders from USL/Social Liberal Union] to do the same thing to me. Traian Basescu was the last representative of the National Salvation Front generation [the first party formed after the 1989 revolution] that I trusted and even liked. In 2004, he was a phenomenon, a skillful political figure, an alternative to a gang, a sort of a chili pepper… I do not think he cheated me - rather, he disappointed me because he turned exactly into what he seemed to want to condemn or fix. After trying out Traian Basescu, I think we have run out of reasonable options, and the only person I can trust now is myself - I, the citizen… I am not allowed to disappoint at home, in my car or in the street. I am not allowed to disappoint the bank, either, if I think about it. For citizens, the rule of disappointment is stricter. If you want to feel good about yourself, you’ll continue playing according to this rule and be careful not to disappoint your parents, family, colleagues, bosses and so on.

[…] Politics seems the easiest way of practising disappointment 100 times more intensely. When you are exposed to such a disappointment, you are left with few alternative options: voting and protesting. Traian Basescu’s evolution and that of other figures he proposed or supported makes me doubt my first option and pay closer attention to the second. For me it’s not enough to be listened to once every four years. That is the reason I took to the streets… If I did nothing, I would feel I’m disappointing.

I believe it’s a good thing people are protesting and expressing their discontent with a louder voice. This is just about the only way the authorities can still take us seriously. There’s no point in having wireless and central heating and buses if we are constantly followed by this frustration of not being listened to by those who we elected to lead us…

Protesters gather in Bucharest to protest austerity measures. Photo by GEORGECALIN, copyright © Demotix (19/01/12).

The Romanian society has been quite passive in the past 22 years, and journalist Vasile Ernu suggests showing unity by turning the current protests white [ro]:

It’s getting harder and harder to get people out in the streets. We can, perhaps, gather 2,000, or 5,000, or maybe even 15,000, but it’s very hard. Why? For various reasons. We have forgotten how to protest, we have been fragmented, we have forgotten how to be united and brave, we have forgotten that beyond self-interest there’s a common one, which gives meaning to a society. We have gotten used to being humiliated and we have forgotten that we too can be a force that those in power should fear.

There’s still something we can do… What if we start wearing white ribbons or white scarves? We could wear them on our lapel or pinned on our chest, around our neck or wrist. All of them white. We could hang them outside our windows and cars. At first we would be 5,000, after that 15,000, after that 100,000 and after that one million. There would be more and more of us… Not anyone can take to the streets, but this gesture can be done by anyone who feels revolted and discontented with those in power. At first, we'll be shy and scared, but when you and I meet, we'll recognize each other. At first, there'll be just a few of us, and after that more and more will unite and become brave. Gradually, from me to you, from neighbour to neighbour, from a protester to a gendarme, more and more people will be wearing white ribbons. A minimum effort without violence. […]

Some slogans of the Romanian protesters are against the entire political class. Still, who will the voters choose from in the upcoming elections at the end of the year? Catalin Tolontan imagines life after the protests [ro]:

I do not credit ahead of time any of the new political movements. What I believe is we cannot afford to come to the point when we can no longer hear ideas because of how imperfect the voices expressing them are.

We all live imperfect lives, but we expect of those who lead us to live outstanding lives. In such a case, we, and not them, are the hypocrites. Any one of those people at the University Square – women and men I greatly admire are expressing themselves there – has his or her weaknesses. […]

[…]

I have my own doubts as a reporter and old quarrels with Crin Antonescu [an opposition leader and a future presidential candidate], though I like it that these days he dared to say, repeatedly, that political party members are not inferior to those who took to the streets all over Romania. Party members militate daily in their virtual agorae. What should we tell them? Leave us, we are immaculate! Sure, we can continue to hate the differences and long for a man on a white horse. We look towards the horizon. For now white belongs only to the snow, the only solution for those in power, a homogenous and cold snow in which we lose ourselves pure, unsoiled and isolated.

Finally, journalist Radu Tudor comments [ro] on Crin Antonescu’s statement that the resignation of the USL's MPs from the Romanian Parliament is merely a matter of days:

Personally, I have been asking this for a year and a half. After the dark night of the Romanian democracy, September 15, 2010, when Anastase Roberta Alma [president of the Chamber of Deputies in the Romanian Parliament] together with 80 MPs from the ruling coalition cheated on the vote on the pension bill, the opposition seems to have finally understood that it can no longer remain side by side with the thieves of the current regime. […]

I am very anxious and curious about whether the opposition will honour this engagement.

This would mean total solidarity with the thousands of discontented people protesting all over Romania.

This would probably be the final sprint in winning the elections.

Now intelligence is being sifted out from stupidity. We shall see…

Reposted by99percent 99percent

January 19 2012

Romania: “A Tsunami” of Protests Against Austerity Cuts and Corruption

After five days of protests in Romania, representatives of the Romanian police are assessing the resulting material damage, the number of weapons confiscated and people held in custody at police stations. The Romanian on-line community is trying to explain why people have taken to the streets, what the authorities' response was and what the outcome of the protests might be.

On Jan. 15, journalist Radu Tudor compared [ro] the protests to “a tsunami” sweeping everything in its path:

Thousands of protesters in Bucharest, Brasov, Timisoara, Pitesti, Deva, Sibiu, Iasi, Cluj Napoca and other important Romanian cities have demanded loudly and clearly: the resignation of Boc Cabinet and of President Basescu. A democratic and relatively honorable resolution to this huge tension between the ruling authorities and the dissenting people are early elections.

[…]

In the minds of the majority, the decision has already been taken: the Basescu-Boc regime must end. This has caused desperate diversions with “hooligans” meant to partially compromise the legitimacy of the protests and to discourage people from taking to the streets. The violent rupture between the current rulers and the population can only have one verdict. A tsunami in favor of political change has already started, coming from ordinary citizens. It sweeps everything in its path. Especially, at the top.

Protesters in Bucharest are waving the Romanian flag and chanting slogans of support for Dr. Raed Arafat, but also against President Traian Basescu. Photo by ANDREI IONIȚĂ, copyright © Demotix (13/01/12).

Political scientist Alina Mungiu-Pippidi wrote this [ro] on Romania Curata, an anti-corruption portal:

[…] It was already time for protests. But when collective action is spontaneous, without leaders and planning, we run the risk of seeing again what happened with the [1989] Revolution – the legitimate protest being stolen, twisted and used and others taking advantage of it without actually changing anything of substance.

Traian Basescu deserves what is happening. Going outside the constitutional framework in order to hit a man who had already succeeded in implementing a reform – Raed Arafat – in the name of a future reform that even the World Bank, IMF and Romanian experts had doubts about, showing the same infallibility syndrome that reminds us of Ceausescu, he dropped the only guard that can protect a head of state. And that guard is the law and the rightfulness given to you by goodwill. No one is infallible, anyone can make mistakes, but at least you must be able to prove your goodwill.

[…]

After this week, the civil society has gone into clear opposition and its strength and territorial expansion have suddenly grown. The question is how we could institutionalize such an opposition and use it in order to have fair elections […], and after the elections to use it for controlling those in power. […]

Day 4 of the rallies against austerity cuts and falling living standards. Bucharest, Romania. Photo by GEORGECALIN, copyright © Demotix (16/01/12).

Journalist Radu Lungu answers [ro] the question many are asking these days - “Why have we taken to the streets?”:

Because what is happening in our society is our business. Because we really felt we were not living in a free country anymore. As all young people from our generation, who either remember very little from the communist days or were not even born yet, we too were manipulated by the media and political class. We were told that what is happening in the society we live in is none of our business, that educated people do not mix with the commoners. That we do not have their problems, that in our country nothing is done right and that that’s just the state of things. That standing up against this state of things is the same as being immature, uneducated. That we are going to leave abroad anyway and we’ll be rid of this impossible country. […] We wanted to see with our own eyes what was going on, so we went into the streets with our cameras – unfortunately, we didn’t take our running shoes too, but you pick up the revolutionary fashion as you go along.

Radu Lungu recounts what he saw and lived through in the streets of downtown Bucharest:

At one point, the protesters stepped out into the road. Gendarmes formed a line and closed the group of people in, pushing them back onto the sidewalk. Many people coming back from a night out in the Old Town or standing in front of kiosks in the area were just caught in the middle and held by gendarmes. There was somebody holding some cheese in a bag, trying to explain to the police that he had bought it for himself and not in order to use it for violent purposes. People wanted to show their IDs to the gendarmes, but they refused to grant them this right. […] People were also detained under the pretext that “now they can no longer leave” without being given any explanation. People were constantly asking to be searched and identified on the spot, according to Law 550 of the Criminal Code. Unfortunately, the crowd and the gendarmes could settle this legislative dispute only at police stations. […] Still, the police at the station never had an aggressive tone. Many gendarmes just told us we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Better to stay calm, sign some papers, take some photos and then off we went back home. I want to end my reporting with an appeal to calm and nonviolence. Personally, I will try to get as many people to come with copies of Laws 550 and 60 to hand to gendarmes on University Square. First, I thought of bringing copies of the entire Criminal Code, but then if we had the money for such intellectual accessories we would probably not take to the streets anymore.

A man is held on the ground by riot police, before being arrested. More than 1,000 of protesters clashed with police, who used tear gas to disperse them. Photo by ALEXANDRU DOBRE, copyright © Demotix (15/01/12).

On Jan. 17, following President Basescu’s requests, Raed Arafat returned to his position of deputy secretary of state at the Health Ministry and coordinator of the emergency medical system. Journalist Radu Tudor sees this gesture as the “official recognition that Basescu can be defeated”:

After having publicly humiliated Raed Arafat and having forced him to leave, on this day the infallible Basescu has died politically. But the huge wave of popular discontent is already in motion. Basescu is scared that [the opposition] is taking control of this discontent and this is actually the stake of Raed Arafat’s reinstatement. Neither respect for him, nor recognition of his value, but the fear that the opposition will benefit from the national outrage shown over the last few days in tens of Romanian cities. Raed Arafat’s reinstatement does not reinstate cut salaries, jobs, does not put a stop to prices going up, does not decrease VAT, does not rid millions of miserable people from huge worries created by this political regime. Raed Afarat’s reinstatement is the victory of the idea that Basescu and his gang can be defeated. […]

September 01 2011

Moldova: “Our Romanian Language” Day Protest

Moldova is one of the few countries in the world that celebrates Language Day, a holiday usually marked by nations that have fought for the right to speak their native language.

Twenty-two years ago, on August 31, 1989, while still a part of the Soviet Union, after fierce deliberations, Moldova adopted the Romanian language as the state language and returned to the Latin script. During the Soviet rule, the country had been forced for almost 50 years to use the Cyrillic script, and the Soviet Union continuously propagated the existence of the Moldovan language as a distinct entity from the Romanian language.

"Our language Romanian"

"Our language Romanian"

Twenty years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the official language is still disputed in Moldova, whilst the Constitution calls it Moldovan, the educational system teaches Romanian, and the ethnic minorities insist on formalizing the Russian language as a second official language.

Ahead of this year’s celebration of Our Romanian Language Day, the Moldovan netizens organized via Facebook [ro] a protest demanding the authorities to replace the phrasing “Moldovan language” with “Romanian language” from the highly disputed 13th Article of the Moldovan Constitution.

The initiative's organizers motivated the attendees with the following slogans:

DEMAND WHAT BELONGS TO YOU; DEMAND THE INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF THE ROMANIAN LANGUAGE!

For 20 years, an injustice has been written down in the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, it harms the Historical Truth of our nation. Those from yesterday, from today and from tomorrow are living this injustice every day, they tolerate and decry it, and they revolt and conform to it, but what will we leave for our offspring and how will we be able to look into their eyes with the shame of our cowardice?

Our parents fought to leave the Soviet Empire, what do we do to carry on with the dignity of their names?

Netizens used Facebook to organize a protest under the slogan: "COME! to protect the LANGUAGE and the HISTORY"

Netizens used Facebook to organize a protest under the slogan: "COME! to protect the LANGUAGE and the HISTORY"

This call to protest ended with the following message:

The affirmation of the Romanian identity does not affect the attitude towards the identity of the ethnic minority groups (Ukrainians, Russians, Bulgarians, Gagauz) who live next to us in the Republic of Moldova. We have to respect each other.

Sergiu Scarlat wrote [ro] on the event’s Facebook page:

We have to fight against the invaders (Russian friends) and to clearly demonstrate that we are at home and here we speak Romanian or at least Moldovan, if anyone spots the difference…

Around 200 people, from more than 1000 who had signed up on the Facebook page, actually turned up at the protest held on August 30 in capital Chisinau.

The protesters carried signs saying:

Without language, without history. We are left with bread and circus?

20 years of “Moldovan language.” How much longer will we endure?

Moldovan language – an invention of the invaders?

Romanian language is my motherland!

The event has made it into mainstream media coverage. The buzz in the blogosphere portraits the still fragile and controversial status of the Romanian language.

Traian Vasilcau decries [ro] the status of the Romanian language existent nowadays in Moldova:

Put on the wall of infamy, the Romanian language sees in front of its eyes a sea of darkness, so big that one could easily slap someone.

He goes on:

From the declaration of independence of the Republic of Moldova, know that only 1 percent of the Bessarabian aliens have learned the pseudo state language.

“Pseudo,” because the eternal problem of the name of the Romanian language is part of science fiction novels.

It is Moldovan for the unconscious populations and for the pro-Communists, and it is Romanian for the conscious population of [Bessarabia].

Alex Cozer assesses [ro] the situation in the same manner:

Still, just like in the case of “independence,” our “Romanian” language is a fake celebration, because, in fact, the Romanian language, just like the independence, is trampled down and not respected.

The blogger appeals to the Prime Minister to keep his promise of levying the main - and the monopolist - chain of cinemas to dub or subtitle movies in Romanian. In the main cinemas of the Moldovan capital, one can only watch movies in Russian.

On the other side of the barricade, blogger Nicolae Pascaru engages [ro] in a debate [ro] where he argues that the language name should be Moldovan, because Moldovan is written down in the Constitution.

Comments to his viewpoint have been mainly critical. A user calling himself Infinit says [ro]:

I am sorry to let you know, but there is a problem with the Constitution. I am afraid several mistakes have slipped in there. The Moldovan language is one of them and is not even the most serious one. I have not seen the Moldovan Constitution mentioning that Smirnov [the self-proclaimed leader of the secessionist entity of Transnistria] has to control Transnistria from 1990, nor that the military units of other states have to be stationed on the territory of Moldova.

Tudor Darie deplores [ro] the fact that certain members of the Moldovan Parliament cannot speak the Romanian language. According to him, the solution is this:

The Government and the Parliament need to create the necessary conditions to protect and promote “the state language” and we (those who follow the historical truth) must not beg, but impose respect for the Romanian language!

Corneliu Gandrabur goes back in his blog post [ro] to the date of August 31, 1989:

On August 31, 1989, I was 2 years and 9 months old; possibly I was still speaking Romanian. On that day, when probably I was playing in the sand in front of the house, on Lenin Street, there were many people who were demanding in one voice the Romanian language and the Latin Alphabet. They got what they demanded, but with the right to only speak it once a year.

[…]

How many more years will we speak Romanian only one day per year? A tough question even for me, I am not even going to write anything about those who are in power now!

Alexandru Tanase writes [ro] on his Facebook wall:

In ’89 I was in the square [National Square] together with thousands of people who were fighting for the adoption of the Romanian language as the state language and the return to the Latin script. In fact, the fight was taking place not only for the return of the Romanian language to public life. In ’89 we were fighting for dignity, which is the basis and the sum of all human rights and values. Congratulations everyone!

August 27 2011

Moldova: Twenty Years of Independence Marked with Parade and Disillusion

On August 27, Moldova has marked its 20th year of independence, an anniversary commemorated this year by the other 13 ex-Soviet republics. Moldova was the last of the European states to declare its independence from the Soviet Union [chronology], followed only by the Eurasian countries.

When last asked in November 2009 whether they regretted the dissolution of the USSR, 48.6 percent of Moldovans answered affirmatively, as opposed to only 32.4 percent who did not regret it. The same survey showed that the majority of people considered that the living conditions, health care, food and the quality of education were better in the Soviet Union, while the situation with the freedom of expression, access to information, freedom of travel and religious freedom had improved.

The 20th anniversary of independence has found Moldova without a president for the second year in a row. An unresolved conflict surrounding the secessionist republic of Transnistria is still shadowing the country’s territorial integrity. The state has around half a million fewer citizens due to emigration in search of a better life as the country is still ranked the poorest in Europe.

According to the latest opinion poll from May 2011, 65 percent of the citizens are not happy with the situation in the country, and only 24 percent believe that things are moving in the right direction. Nonetheless, 83 percent of Moldovans are proud to be citizens of their country and only 3 percent have declared not to be proud.

Rocket launcher trucks are driving by during the military parade in Moldova's capital Chisinau, as Moldovans celebrate 20 years of independence. Photo by Adrian Hancu, copyright ©Demotix (August 27, 2011)

Moldova’s anniversary debates have flooded the national blogosphere; overall, critical and disillusioned attitudes outweigh the enthusiasm.

Victor Chironda questions [ro] whether we have really learned the independence lesson:

Over a time period of 20 years Moldova had an opportunity to start from zero, just like a newborn, to learn to stand on its feet and walk, to learn the “cans” and “cannots”, the good and the bad. And together with Moldova, each one of us had this opportunity.

But have we truly exploited this chance? Have we learned to stand on our feet? Have we learned “to walk” in these years?

The fact that the 20th anniversary of independence has caught us in a full political, economic, social and even moral crisis suggests that we have not really learned the lesson.

This year, for the first time ever since gaining independence, Moldovan authorities have organized a military parade. This decision was received with diverging reactions within the society. In regards to that, Denis Cenusa believes [ro] that:

The contrary opinions within the society concerning the rationale of hosting a military parade in Chisinau uncover a state of apathy towards the Independence Day in general and, on the other hand, unveil a high level of anxiety from some segments of the population towards the political class.

The military parade is considered “fanfaronade” by Alex Cozer, who writes [ro]:

I had a bitter smile when I heard that for this fanfaronade new clothes had been made for the soldiers and new shoes bought, and the military cars that stood rusting for years had been repaired and repainted.

I hope nobody will get the wrong idea that I don’t love this country or that I don’t respect its independence. I love this country and I respect the date of August 27, even if this independence has been obtained after almost all other ex-Soviet states had broken away from the USSR, and even if our independence during these last 20 years has been mostly a fact on the paper.

A high-ranking Moldova military official in an old Soviet Volga car, during the military parade in Chisinau, Moldova. Photo by Adrian Hancu, copyright ©Demotix (August 27, 2011)

Nati Vozian believes [ro] that only hope keeps Moldova going:

For 20 years, it has carried on its shoulders 4 million people who want to eat every day, a handful of oligarchs and parliamentarians who exploit it and use it as they please. From 1991, it has lived unfulfilled dreams, disillusions and deceptions. It is poor, but independent. It is small, but has a big soul. It has potential, but it is not discovered. It gets promises, but not actions.

Only hope keeps it on its feet.

Our young Moldova turns 20 this year. It does not want praises, thousands of congratulations and wishes of well-being. It wants to receive only one gift: a better life…

Vlada Ciobanu addresses [ro] Moldova directly:

Dear country,

Soon there will be many posts full of pathos about how wonderful you are and how much the people love you. These would boost your self-esteem. A success story, in other words.

To be clear in which moment of our relationship we are now, know that I am looking forward to the Romanian citizenship. Somehow I do not trust these men that you change every four years (nowadays even more often). But I really want to travel around the world and to have the certainty that I can leave from here in any moment when you begin sinking. […]

I am not complaining, and I am not leaving, I just want you to know how you are; the others are lying to you. They lie because they do not love you. The people who love you say everything to your face.

Nata Albot wants to see a change in people’s minds. She writes [ro]:

In the morning we chose the slogan. Moldova, I do love you. Slogans were many. Incredible ones (not on a positive note). Pathetic ones. Just like we have been used to be towards this country. We spit on it 365 days a year, we complain, we curse it. Not that it would not deserve. But not the country is to blame. The country is wonderful. It is a strip of land that hosts us, feeds us, gives us a place to live and work. The bugs in our minds are to blame. We think wrong, we believe too much in priests and fortune-tellers, we drink a lot, we tell lies, we do not respect each other, we do not learn the language, we steal, we bribe, … I'm telling you… Not the country is to blame. The people make the country. And if the people f…ck it, they must undo this. Meaning nothing is impossible. We just have to change the direction, or the speed, or the volume, or the light in our thoughts. Something certainly needs to change. In our minds.

On a different note, Vitalie Marian has written down [ro] at least 20 reasons for which he loves Moldova:

Here I was born and here live my dear parents.
Here I met my dear wife and got married.
It is a beautiful country with the most fertile soil (even though its potential is not even barely exploited).
It has people with a great heart, hospitable and very patient.

He does not forget to list some ironic reasons as well:

Even if hot water gets turned off, you still have cold water.
Even if we do not have a president, I do not feel the difference.
Even if the financial crisis is stressing out the entire world, everything remains stable in Moldova.
Even if everything is bad, people do not lose their grip and sense of humour.

August 02 2011

Moldova: Attack on Journalist Causes Online Debate on “Language Issue”

An incident of violence against a Moldovan journalist brought about active online discussions regarding the long-protracted animosities between the Moldovan majority and the small Russian minority in the country.

The discord goes deep into history, as Moldova was once an integral part of the Romanian nation and later, during the Second World War, was occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union for almost 50 years. On August 27, Moldova will mark its 20th year of independence, but disagreements between the ethnic Moldovan population and the Russian-speaking minority flare up from time to time regarding the use of the Russian language. On many occasions, representatives of the Russian-speaking minority have refused to speak the official language of the country [the official language in Moldova is Romanian (called Moldovan in the Constitution)] and commanded the local population to speak Russian. Russian is not an official language in Moldova, but is widely spoken by ethnic minorities, in particular in the unrecognized separatist region of Transnistria and in the autonomous entity of Gagauz Yeri. The political elite, busy with the ongoing domestic disputes, has not made attempts of bridging the inter-ethnic gap over the years and so far has not reacted to this case.

Journalist Oleg Brega from Curaj TV was attacked on July 29 at the Slavonic University of Moldova, where he was investigating a case of a student encountering problems with her request to transfer to another university. At the journalist’s insistence to obtain some answers from the university's administration, the executive director of the university, Andrei Babenco, demanded that the journalist speak Russian. The journalist said he understood Russian, but asked if Babenco could speak Romanian, and the latter replied that he couldn't and wouldn't speak Romanian, and then, all of a sudden, hit the journalist and his camera when Brega asked why he didn’t speak Romanian.

Brega was recording everything, and the attack on him continued, as the executive director and several of his colleagues continued to hit and insult him while also trying to take away his documents and make him stop videotaping (attack scenes at min 1:36; 2:30). The journalist was also continuously threatened and prevented from leaving the premises of the university. He called the police, which took control over the situation.

Before the case was mentioned by the mainstream media, the online community had organised a flashmob at the university. On August 1, equipped with video-recording devices and extracts from the Constitution, youth activists came to the Slavonic University and started filming the university, to show solidarity with the harassed journalist. The young people were also attacked by the university employees, who appeared irritated by the fact that they were being filmed. As a result, one of the participants was taken away his camera by a university representative. It was again necessary for the police to intervene.

Oleg Brega, the attacked journalist, drew attention to the fact that the inter-ethnic divide should not be the sole focus of this case, which is, according to him, also a severe case of basic human rights violations. However, online debates have focused mainly on the use of the Russian language in the country.

Vitalie Cojocari felt humiliation. He wrote [ro]:

I felt once again the secular whip of the secular Russian whistling in the air and hitting me painfully across my cheek. Because that director did not only hit Oleg Brega. That individual, for whom prison is crying, has hit all Romanian-speakers from Moldova, regardless of whether they call it Moldovan or not.

He went on:

It is damn complicated to ask a Russian from Moldova to speak your language. Any such attempt is harshly sanctioned. Russians need to be respected, after all we are a multi-ethnic nation, so they have rights. But will no one speak about obligations? No. Why? Because if you ask Russians to learn Romanian you are called a “fascist pig.”

In another blog post, the same author ascertains [ro], as he comments on another issue (the autonomous entity Gagauz Yeri has demanded the Moldovan Government to issues their correspondence to the region in Russian):

[…] the Romanian language is again subject to a terrible pressure. It is like we are going back to before ’89 [on August 31, 1989, Moldova switched from the Cyrillic alphabet to the Latin script]. Damn situation! What the hell is happening with our little country, where no minority group, Russian, Gagauz, Jewish, Ukrainian, Armenian, speaks our language? We have ended up being a minority in our country. Where did we go wrong, brothers, that no one loves our language?

Tudor Cojocariu opines [ro] that the “ethnic conflict is still to be found at the roots of many aggressions and violence that are happening around us”:

And who knows how many such USSR-type situations of sad reminiscence and of [“thieves in law”] are taking place right in front of us and we just look down and lie to ourselves that tomorrow everything will be alright, while knowing at the same time that neither the Romanian Moldovan majority, nor the Russian minority will go anywhere. It all has to do with adaptation and it is clear that never the majority will adapt to the minority, even if the latter is imperial, frustrated and full of complexes, because they have ended up being a minority where once there was a false “big Soviet motherland.”

Another blogger, Denis Cenusa, wrote this [ro]:

Any hesitation or delay in discussing the status of the Russian language, the methods to integrate Russian-speakers into the society and the measures to efficiently and permanently interconnect the linguistic communities will, in the future, result in serious problems for national security, including the European path of the Republic of Moldova.

“20 years have passed. MOLDOVA, WAKE UP!”, concluded [ro] his blog entry Andrei Fornea.

The Moldovan media NGOs have issued a statement, expressing their concern regarding the incident at the Slavonic University and qualifying it as unacceptable for a democratic society.

June 17 2011

Moldova: +1 Vote Campaign Buzz Ahead of Local Elections

Moldova’s capital Chisinau is set to witness another democratic exercise this Sunday, June 19, when the second and final round of the local election will decide whether the city will have a liberal or a communist mayor.

A group of bloggers has launched the +1 Vote online campaign to mobilize young people to go out and vote, regardless of their choice.

The bloggers are planning to do a mobilization dance on Sunday in Chisinau's National Square. They have a tune, they have the moves and with their bodies they will dance and write +1 Vote. To make sure it goes well, on Thursday, June 16, they held a rehearsal and were joined by many young people, including a newlywed couple (photo and video).

+1Vote mobilisation campaign logo

Bloggers have launched +1 Vote, an online mobilisation campaign

Launched on June 15, the +1 Vote campaign has seen a number of Facebook users change their profile photos to the +1 Vote logo and the campaign's Facebook page has already gathered more than 300 potential attendees.

The campaign has been largely featured in the mainstream media and has generated lively discussions in the blogosphere.

Katya Poclitari addresses [ro] her fellow citizens:

Each of us matters. Each vote matters and that +1 Vote will be the decisive one and will bring the change to us living in Chisinau – the people of this beautiful, rich and, hopefully, happy country.

PS: THE MOST IMPORTANT, before or after the +1 Vote dance, do not forget to go and vote.

Though the organisers have declared the campaign to be neutral, the blue colour used in the logo is the electoral colour of the liberal party. Eugeniu Luchianiuc does not agree [ro] to this and has made his own +1 Vote logo: red (communist party) and blue (liberal party), in order to be truly neutral:

I promote the idea that you have to go and vote. The choice is yours, that is why there are choices.

Nata Albot is going to join [ro] the +1 Vote campaign and here is why:

It is of interest to me, first of all because I will continue living in Chisinau; it interests me as an experiment to test the power of the internet and most of all because it harms no one.

“Let’s do it, CHIŞINĂU,” writes [ro] Andrei Fornea:

I believe in us more than never. Come on, mobilization!

Vadim Zgherea is taking part [ro] in the campaign, even though he has not yet reached the voting age:

I do not vote, I do not yet have the right age. I do not intend to justify myself, I just want to make a gesture. I want to encourage people to VOTE.

Alexandru Gurdila has reached the age allowing him to vote, but he chooses not to vote [ro]. Still, he has joined the campaign:

I know that I have made a fuss about not voting for the mayor. I will keep not voting. But this does not mean that you have to be like me.

Anna Antonoff has made her choice [ro]:

I am going to vote!!!
Are you?

June 11 2011

Moldova: Diplomatic Controversy Marks Russia Day

The Russian Federation celebrates its national holiday on June 12 (Russia Day). In Moldova, the official diplomatic celebrations preceding this day have sparked controversies [ro] that verge on a diplomatic scandal. The media have reported that at the official reception organized on June 10 at the Russian Embassy in Moldova, Valeri Kuzmin, the Russian Ambassador [ru], gave floor [ro] to Vladimir Yastrebchak, presenting him as the official chief of the Transnistrian diplomacy. (Transnistria is a separatist region of Moldova, which broke away in 1990; it is not recognized by any UN member state. The Russian military forces and ammunitions are stationed on the Transnistrian territory against the will of the Moldovan authorities.) Reacting to the Russian Ambassador’s gesture, the Moldovan diplomats left the reception; they were followed by diplomats representing the US and the EU missions.

The Moldovan Prime Minister regards [ro] the Russian Ambassador’s action as an insult to the Moldovan people. He hopes it is a mistake, but will ask for explanations via diplomatic channels. The leader of the Liberal Party, who is part of the ruling alliance in Moldova at the moment, suggested [ro] that the Russian Ambassador should leave the country, since the diplomat demonstrated his support for Transnistria, being thus disrespectful of Moldova’s independence. The Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs will not [ro] voice its position until next week.

The tensions are building up, especially since Moldova is undergoing the crucial local elections at the moment. In a week’s time, the Moldovan capital will hold its final, second-round battle to elect the mayor of Chisinau (the current liberal mayor is competing against the Communist Party’s candidate). The Russian Embassy in Moldova has given its own assessment [ro] of the first round of the local elections held on June 5, doubting the objectivity of the evaluation conducted by the OSCE international observers. A reply followed from the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressing [ro] perplexity and regret over the Russian commentary.

The relations between Moldova and Russia have always been sensitive, as Moldova was under Russian oppression several times, culminating in the 50-year forced integration into the Soviet Union.

The Moldovan blogosphere had immediate reactions to the diplomatic incident.

Vadim Zgherea writes [ro] in his blog post entitled “Kuzmin on the black list”:

It is tragic to see with your own eyes how they make you stupid. It is tragic since we cannot take it anymore.

[…]

How does the Russian ambassador afford to speak such words here, where democracy has not yet unpacked its luggage? Thanks at least to the Moldovan, American and European diplomats for a dignified and prompt gesture, let the Russians be burning with shame.

Vitalie Vovc is proud of Moldova. In his blog “Today I am Moldova,” he writes [ro]:

Little does it matter what tomorrow will be. Little do the consequences matter! Finally, my country has reacted NORMALLY to an aberration! Tonight I have a small occasion to be proud! And I couldn’t care less of how naive I might look or how “unpragmatic” or childish my reaction is!

It will last probably till tomorrow morning… Because tomorrow other representatives will attenuate, will explain and comment…

Oleg Cristal was also proud of the Moldovan diplomacy on June 10. He describes [ro] an ironic scenario:

Soon [Tiraspol, the capital of the unrecognized Transnistria] will organize a military parade on the Stefan cel Mare boulevard in Chisinau [the main street in Moldova’s capital], and this will be led by the Russian Ambassador in Moldova. Moreover, the formula that the Russian Ambassador used to introduce Iastrebchak is a de jure recognition of the regime in Tiraspol. A new gesture of de jure recognition, since there have been such attitudes from Moscow before.

Oleg Cristal does not believe that the Russian Ambassador made a mistake:

If it was a mistake, soon we should see an apology from his side. But a diplomat with the experience like the Russian Ambassador in Moldova can NOT make such “mistakes.” Therefore, it was a message to Chisinau or even a provocation ahead of the second round of the elections in the capital and ahead of the informal consultations in the [5+2 format] scheduled to take place in Moscow on June 21. The deterioration of the Moldovan-Russian relations would come now to the advantage of the communist candidate for the position of the mayor of Chisinau, Igor Dodon. From this perspective, a possible reaction of the Moldovan authorities should be very well-balanced.

Andrei Fornea also finds the action of the Moldovan diplomacy commendable; however, he expresses [ro] some concerns as well:

This case could lead to divergences between Moldova and Russia on the background of an already very weak diplomatic relationship that occurred with the change of power in Chisinau and could lead to political embargos, the increase of gas price and other things that could make us kneel in front of Russia.

He ends with a message to the Russian Ambassador:

I only have this to tell him: GO HOME!

A similar message is expressed by another blogger. Eugeniu Luchianciuc posted a photo of Kuzmin with this statement:

Kuzmin, go home and drink Vodka!

On Pulbermax blog, the author is asking [ro]:

I'd like to know from what position the Russian Ambassador is making such statements… A KGB General? The Russian Ambassador? Or a companion lady of the Kremlin?

A critical reaction was articulated [ro] by Corneliu Gandrabur:

Kuzmin should leave the country, because he has breached the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, [art. 1, 2 and 3]. The direct attack on the territorial integrity as well as on the sovereignty is a grave infringement. Acting in his capacity of the ambassador, he has represented Russia’s interests and we can only say that this has been intentional and coordinated with the Kremlin.

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