In Chisinau, Moldova as many as 40,000 people took to the streets in opposition of government corruption and overwhelming political manipulation by the nation’s oligarchs. In the midst of the chaos, some broke into the Parliament building while others committed acts of vandalism and clashed with the police. The protesters have rocked back and forth in numbers since October, 2015, when an estimated $1 Billion in government funds disappeared from the national banking system.
Initially the protesters were slanted pro-democracy and eyeing European Union (EU) oversight for their nation, which resides in a political tug of war with the West and Russia. On the streets, the protesters have established an encampment in front of the Parliament building. Many spend their days and nights there, sleeping in tents and makeshift shelters, eating rations from a kitchen truck, and keeping warm alongside 55 gallon barrels drums, burning wooden pallets and fallen branches. They spend the majority of their days and nights there, disputing the politics and points of their various parties.
I visited the camp and spoke with some of the protesters. The people I spoke to asked me, to bring their story, and their grievances back to America – to let the world know that they are suffering the injustices of corruption and greed at the expense of their health and safety.
One man, speaking in fear of the long-term results of corruption, Mikhail, told me, “Money, nobody respects money anymore. Only those who have it, respect it and the people do not have money”. He was speaking on the corruption and lack of accountability in Moldovan politics. Many others were upset with the current system, in that their leaders have consistently failed them and maintained an ominous presence over the people, through a system of fear and intimidation.
The protesters have been able to establish this long-term presence in such a high-profile location due to the support of the mixed collection of protesters which are present. This is due to the unique chaos that is Eastern European politics, and that the parties and politicians often pay the protesters for their presence. This fact was reiterated to me by my local handler in Moldova, as we approached the site of the protesters. I was unfortunately familiar with this fact, yet sometimes a small collection of those on the payroll can erupt when a real issue affects the public – a similar scene recently unraveled in neighboring Romania.
Protesters and public presence, is a matter of political policy that expands well beyond the protesters in Moldova. Predominantly in Eastern Europe, staged protests funded by politicians and political parties are often well organized and staffed by paid protesters. The endgame is for public support or dissuasion of a current affair or policy, and is designed to draw the attention of the press, and pressure the opposition through an orchestrated demonstration of civil disobedience.
Coordinated methodologies are no stranger in Moldova, a nation that has maintained its secret police. Moldova regularly deploys flagrant abuses of power on its citizens, through the surveillance and bullying of its own people and visiting foreigners. A policy that I experienced first-hand, as I was shook down, moments after I landed by some leather coat cladded gentlemen. This incidence swiftly escalated into the sloppy installation of surveillance equipment in the room I rented, being regularly followed by officials, and a beaten man being left on my doorstep.
Despite the status quo, sometimes people are just angry and have a legitimate grievance with their leaders, or they are simply rallied behind a cause- any cause promising change. Moldova remains in a precarious situation since achieving independence, following the bloody, 1989 removal of, Dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, and officially declared independence after the fall of the U.S.S.R., in 1991. Even so, the coming insurrection in Chisinau is now shrouded in numbers on the streets by Pro-Russian Socialist, the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PRSM). The voices of those calling for democratic political change in the streets of Chisinau have been overwhelmed by a violent mass of communist.
Moldova is a nation in turmoil with an unprecedented identity crisis. The small and often forgotten nation holds the title of poorest nation in Europe. On the northern border of Moldova, is the mafia-controlled – yet communist breakaway nation of Transnistria, which fought a short-lived but bloody civil war with Moldova for independence in 1992. The breakaway republic of Transnistria continues to manifest issues for Moldova as a Russian puppet state- which includes Russian garrisons across the nation, and in its capital, Tiraspol. Their presence has allowed for a heavy influence of Russian culture, language, as well as the manifestation and support of the PRSM in Moldova. Many advanced party members, such as the man who rented me a room – have regularly spent formulative time in Moscow.