A commemorative plaque in memory of 66 intellectuals who signed an open letter to the “Interdepartmental commission of the presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic for studying the history and problems related to the development of the Moldovan language” was unveiled on the façade of the National Library of the Republic of Moldova located on 31 august 1989 St, at the intersection with Mitropolit Gavriil Bănulescu-Bodoni Blvd. Thirty-three years ago on September 17, 1988, the “Letter of the 66” was published in the newspaper “Public Education”.
In that period, books in the Romanian language could not be bought in libraries in the MSSR. In the State Library, the Romanian-language books could be read in the Foreign Language Books Hall, said physical Ion Holban, a signatory of the letter. The signatories demanded to restore the Latin script, to offer Moldovan the statute of official language and to recognize the identicalness between the Moldovan language and the Romanian language.
Among the 66 signatories were linguists, writers, newspapermen, university professors, jurists, doctors, mathematician, biologists, etc. Initially, the letter was signed by 200 intellectuals, but 134 of them withdrew their signatures following pressure exerted by KGB agents, said signatory Arcadie Barbăroșie. The KGB opened an inquiry into that case and some of the signatories suffered somewhat. Attending the event, signatory Vlad Pâslaru, a teacher, said that he lost his job at a Research Institute.
The event’s moderator Elena Pintilei, director general of the National Library of the Republic of Moldova, said the impact of the call made by the 66 intellectuals was enormous, the letter contributing to the adoption of laws on the return to the Latin script and the adoption of the status of official language on August 31, 1989.
Minister of Culture Sergiu Prodan called on the attending young people to draw inspiration from the deeds of the forerunners and to carry on the flame of love for the mother tongue and national culture. “Don’t lose the moment to light your candles from the light of the forerunners,” he stated.
The initiative to commemorate the 66 signatories, many of whom died, was put forward by academician Valeriu Pasat in 2013 and again this year. President Maia Sandu supported it.