The violent clashes of April 7 remain an equation with unknowns on both sides. The Government, represented by the Communist Party (PCRM), accuses the Opposition, especially the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM), the Liberal Party (PL) and the Moldova Noastra Alliance (AMN), of attempting to oust the government from power by anti-constitutional methods. For its part, the Opposition accuses the power of organizing the riots with the aim of diverting attention from the accusations that the April 5 legislative elections were rigged. Each of the sides provides arguments in support of their statements and categorically denies the arguments of the adversary. The society cannot take a clear attitude in this dispute because it knows practically nothing about the data of the problem. The international community is in the same situation.
It is practically impossible to obtain and publish correct information with internal forces because this would imply sincere cooperation between the two camps within a national commission that would investigate the case. An independent international commission could obtain more information. But such a commission can come to Moldova only if there is filed an official application supported by both of the sides and this is hard to imagine: the side that is in the wrong will oppose or will not cooperate sincerely with the foreign experts. Anyway, the real organizers of the acts of vandalism will be identified not soon and not so easy. Until them, we can only analyze the available information, including according to the principle “who needs this?”
The position of the PCRM:
The Communist Party headed by the incumbent president Vladimir Voronin says:
- the Opposition staged the protests that ended with acts of vandalism as a result of which the buildings of the Presidential Office and the Parliament were destroyed;
- all these acts are elements of an attempted coup and usurpation of state power;
- the protests were supported from outside, Romania being mentioned in this context. The Ambassador of Romania to Moldova was declared persona non grata, while the citizens of Romania will have to obtain visas to enter Moldova;
- the protests were also financed by certain business circles. Millionaire Gabril Stati, the son of the even richer businessman Anatol Stati, was arrested in Ukraine on suspicion of involvement in this;
- the Opposition leaders were threatened with legal cases;
- many young persons that allegedly took part in the protests were arrested and will stand trial.
The position of the Opposition:
- the Opposition denies any involvement in the acts of vandalism;
- says that the PCRM rigged the April 5 elections in its favor and organized the acts of vandalism as a ‘smoke curtain’ in order to divert the attention of the national and international community;
- accuses the PCRM of premeditated misinformation of the society and international organizations, including by using the media holding controlled by it, about the organizers and perpetrators of the acts of vandalism, without providing convincing evidence;
- accuses the PCRM of attempting to isolate Moldova by unfounded attacks on Romania, which is a member of the European Union;
Historical analogies: Revolution of candles or egg attack on City Hall
The protests held recently in the Great National Assembly Square seemed analogous with the orange revolution in Ukraine and the tulip revolution in Georgia several years ago. Those revolutions changed the internal and external political course in both of the countries. As the first participants in the Chisinau protest lit candles, we can call the movement ‘the revolution of candles’.
The degeneration of the protests into acts of vandalism dispelled the given analogy and the impression that the movement could have been supported by the West and the United States, as it is said to have happened in the case of Georgia and Ukraine.
A similar situation was witnessed 10 years ago, when the crowd consisting mainly of students and young persons, attacked the Chisinau City Hall with eggs and stones, damaging the building rather seriously. It should be noted that the several tens of thousands of students appeared then out of the blue, organized (or disorganized) overnight. Theoretically, the Parliament should have been the target of the attack as it cancelled the concession to travel gratis by public transport, while the City Hall only complied with its decision.
Connecting things – Who gathered the crowd?
Several hundreds of young persons were in the Great National Assembly Square on April 6 in the evening. They chanted anti-Communist slogans. Some of them held candles in their hands. The next morning, the protesters numbered 10,000-15-000 according to different estimates and included mainly young people.
It is rather interesting how such an activism appeared among the young persons/students when practically all the surveys and the results of last years’ elections show that this category of people takes a more inactive rather than active part in the political life. Who managed to mobilize so many people overnight?
The Opposition parties made no public appeal, calling to protests that day. During the election campaign, as earlier, the Opposition parties were isolated and even competed between them or openly attacked each other. They weren’t seen cooperating someway, not speaking about institutionalized forms of cooperation. It’s hard to imagine that not knowing the final election results, the Opposition parties managed to overcome the divergences overnight and gathered several thousands of people to protest in the center of Chisinau. If a coalition of parties could not do it, what could one party do? (One more explanation: if a party or a coalition of Opposition parties had had such an active ‘army’ of supporters, they would have won the elections, would have taken over the power peacefully and wouldn’t have waited for an opportune moment to mount a coup. Or maybe they won the elections and the vote rigging represented that ‘coup. Now, we cannot know this). But we can say with certitude that the Moldovan Opposition has not been and is not able to mobilize so many people because it is isolated, weak and immature – the same old and banal reason.
An inevitable question arises here: Who is capable of staging such events in a record period of time? There are several variants of answers to this question:
1. A party or a coalition of partiers that do not form part of the Opposition and are much better organized and disciplined, with significant human and financial resources, with well-planned techniques and tactics;
2. The state institutions, including the police and the secret services, which should permanently have infiltrated agents in all the areas and institutions, organizations and companies with a certain weight;
3. The third variant is a combination of the first and second variants;
4. The aliens.
Mobilized by the Opposition or the power, it seems that the crowd was conducted by well-trained persons whose task was to incite the people to violence and acts of vandalism, whose effects were calculated long ago.
Who needs this?
A number of questions cannot be answered because there is no information about the organizers of the April 7 riots or because no such information is made public. Instead, we have the effects of the acts of vandalism. A simple enumeration of the consequences from the angle of the principle “who needs this?” could help us come closer to the answer looked for:
- After associated with the acts of vandalism, the Opposition was discredited. If the contrary is not proven, the parliamentary Opposition of Moldova will need a long time to restore its image. It seems like a rerun of the April 4, 2005 event, when a number of Opposition parties voted for Vladimir Voronin’s candidacy for the post of President of Moldova and the Democratic Moldova Block, as the main Opposition force at that time, was destroyed. Who needs that the Opposition is liquidated as parliamentary institution?
- The Moldovan-Romanian relations are now worse than ever and Romania’s image on the international arena, including as member of the European Union, was damaged. Everything started from the accusation that the neighboring country was involved in the organization of the protests and in what the Moldovan authorities called ‘attempted coup’. The main ‘proof’ made public is the fact that several protesters hoisted Romania’s flag, alongside the flag of the European Union, on the Parliament’s roof. When making the accusation, the authorities did not take into account the elementary logic that those that stage a coup do not reveal their intentions, aims and involvement at the very beginning. As interpreted by the PCRM and the affiliated press, the events were organized by Romania and the Moldovan Opposition that does not hide its sympathies with Bucharest, unlike the PCRM and the official institutions that have pursued an anti-Romania policy rather that a good neighborhood policy. (It was also ignored that persons in police uniform were present on the roof while the Romanian flag was being hoisted, while the young man that raised the flag was seen, according to the press, among the ‘provokers’ at the protests staged by different Opposition parties during the election campaign.) Who profits from such a twist of events?
- The image and business of Ascom-Grup and its affiliates headed by the multimillionaires Anatol Stati and his son Gabriel Stati were damaged at international level. The given companies do business in many parts of the world. It seems that they are the only businessmen that did not accept to unconditionally yield to the Chisinau regime. Earlier, Anatol Stati issued a statement, informing that the head office of their major company in Moldova was transferred abroad. Stati Senior argued that they were subjected to pressure, including political, on the part of the Communist Government and could not work in normal conditions. Also then, Anatol Stati specified the large amounts that the budget of Moldova will lose as a result of the transfer. But the retreat also meant a free niche on the home market.
Other effects of the acts of vandalism could be analyzed to see who needed all this. But the answers could be formulated only after new information appears, as for example answers to the question: “were the April 5 legislative elections in Moldova rigged or not?”
Valeriu Vasilică, IPN
P.S. Even if a part of the suppositions formulated several days after the events of April 7, 2009 can be partly or fully left out, returning to the then analysis can help understand that most of the anxieties and questions stated by society immediately after the April events remained unaddressed. For the same purpose, we suggest returning to the IPN analysis “April 2009 vandalism and camomile guessing” that was published on May 17, 2010.