A pro-Russian party fomented anti-government protests in Moldova’s capital of Chișinău on Tuesday as Russia continues to meddle in the country’s politics amid a West-oriented drive of the Moldovan government.
The capital was paralyzed on Tuesday as thousands of protesters galvanized by the pro-Russian ȘOR Party took to the streets to demand winter season electricity subsidies and that “the country does not engage in the war” in Ukraine, Polish Radio reported, adding that police forces were deployed to maintain order.
The protest was organized by the opposition Movement for the People group supported by ȘOR Party members, according to Associated Press.
In Moldova's capital, Chisinau, thousands of Moldovans gathered to protest against involvement in Ukraine, chanting "Russia, Russia" pic.twitter.com/HOwQYGGIZY
— John Moran (@RueDaungier) February 28, 2023
The protesters blocked highways approaching the city as well as the city center, Canadian Gardaworld security company’s Crisis24 website wrote.
The protest unfolded in a march that began at the Academy of Sciences around 11:30 local time. According to the schedule, the demonstration will conclude with a rally at Chisinau City Hall. The turnout is expected to remain in the low thousands, Crisis 24 wrote.
"I don't understand your language! I'm from russia!" says one of the "protesters" to a local journalist in Moldova today.
This is all you need to know about these "protests" against the pro-western government in Chisinau… 😂🤷🏻♂️ pic.twitter.com/CKLYKfyIXY
— Igor Novikov (@igornovikov) February 28, 2023
The protesters called on Moldova’s president Maia Sandu to resign. “Out with dictatorship” slogan was reportedly heard in the streets of Chișinău.
Because the demonstrators were bussed into the capital from all over the country, Chișinău’s streets were jammed.
🇲🇩Moldovan pro-Russian 'Șor' party will not make it to the 'anti-government' rally in Chisinau – their buses were stopped now on the way by Moldovan services 😻#Ukraine #UkraineWar #Moldova #RussiaIsLosing #RussiaIsATerroristState #Russian #Chisinau pic.twitter.com/8zOoGH4qYG
— Intermarium 24 (@intermarium24) February 28, 2023
The head of the pro-Russian ȘOR Party Ilan Sor claimed the police attempted to thwart what he dubbed “a peaceful rally”.
The oligarch Sor has been sanctioned by the U.S. Department of State for his backing of Russian interests. Moldovan authorities say that the 35-year-old, who has been on the run from Moldova’s law enforcement and laying low in Israel, collaborates with a group of associates to deliberately escalate tensions in Chișinău.
Russia is waging a hybrid war against Moldova
“There is a real prospect for Moldova to join the West. Russia knows this and is trying to block it. Not by military force,” NATO Deputy Secretary Mircea Geoana told Romanian TV channel Digi 24 on Thursday.
“Russia has unleashed, as it tried to do in Montenegro in 2016, an entire hybrid war arsenal against the Republic of Moldova,” he stressed.
The official’s comment followed Moldova’s dismissal of an accusation by Russia’s defense ministry that Ukraine contrived a plan to invade the breakaway Moldovan region of Transdniestria.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy also dismissed the accusations on Friday, adding that the region was the sovereign territory of Moldova.