Thursday, December 31, 2009

World news 12/31/09: U.S. terror plot, Belarus vs. the EU, Yemen the new al Qaeda site?

Belarus President Hits Out at E.U. “Cat and Mouse Game”
Yemen's problems will not stay in Yemen
Dems Blame Bush Admin For Terror Attempt

Neighborhood news 12/31/09: Ukraine and Romania

Snow Causes Power Outages In Ukraine

Poll: Yanukovych Ukraine’s next president

Romania moves closer to ratifying Nabucco

Another Dracula Was Killed in Romania in 1989 (Pravda writes on the execution of Nicolae Ceasescu)

Feature on son of Moldovan immigrants who found 10,000$ in cash in a bag

The News Tribune, a local newspaper in Tacoma, Washington, recently posted a feature on Moisei Baraniuc, the son of a Moldovan family that immigrated to the U.S. in 2003.

Mr. Baraniuc found 10,000$ in cash in a bag in the grocery store where he worked and notified authorities. The money were the life-savings of a man from Tacoma, Washington.

An excerpt:
"His parents, Tatiana and Vitalie Baraniuc, and their four children moved from Pacific to Wilmer, Ala., in August. A brother of Vitalie Baraniuc also lives in the area. The rural setting is more like Moldova, where the Baraniucs lived before immigrating to the United States in 2003."

The full story is available here.

Portuguese newspaper: Moldovan immigration ring leader sentenced in Portugal

Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias recently posted a news story about a Moldovan immigration ring-leader being sentenced to eight years in Portugal. The group led by the 40-year-old man falsified official documents, bribed officials, and developed links to state institutions.

An excerpt:
"Hundreds of Moldovan immigrants obtained visas to work in Portugal through an illegal scheme set up in the Algarve and involving civil construction businessmen and a "connection" at the Employment and Professional Training Institute. There was also an attempt to bribe a staff member at the Romanian embassy in Portugal. The head of the group has been sentenced by the Supreme Court of Justice."

The full text (a translation from Portuguese into English) can be read here.

Air Moldova carried its 400,000th customer in 2009 on December 29

Air Moldova, the country's major airline, announced yesterday that it carried its 400,000th passenger this year.

Further details are available here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Police officer being investigated for allegedly torturing a protester in April

The Chisinau Prosecutor's Office is investigating a police officer from the capital accused of torturing a protester on April 9.

After legislative elections on April 5, peaceful protesters came into the streets to protest what they said were election results stolen by the Party of Communists. The protests turned violent on April 7 and ended with the devastation of the Parliamentary and Presidential buildings.

A mass repression campaign followed on the night of April 7, which, according to a recent Soros Foundation report, ended with the detainment of over 700 people and the torture of about 300. A number of deaths have also been tied to that night.

This far, authorities have registered slightly over 100 complaints about ill-treatment in April. Of those, 43 criminal investigations have started, and 6 have been sent to the courts.


Public television and radio directors fired in attempt to make the stations more impartial

Today, the new Council of Observers fired Valentin Todercan, the head of Moldovan Public Television and Radio, and Adela Railean, the director of Moldova 1, the country's public television station.

Six new members (out of nine) were appointed to the Council recently.

The Communist opposition has accused the ruling Alliance of political persecution, but coalition heads hailed the Council's decision as a move toward making the public stations more impartial and more independent.

Mr. Todercan and Ms. Railean have often been accused of having close ties to the Party of Communists. Reports by independent media organizations established that, while the Communists were in power, the public television and radio stations were used to polish the ruling party's image and to criticize the opposition. For example, the stations spoke very little about the mass repression campaign that followed after the April 7 protests in Chisinau.

After the Alliance came to power, the two stations, especially public television, continued to generally praise the Communists and harshly critize the Government, generating accusations that, although the Party of Communists lost the elections, it maintained control over an important media outlet that is very popular with Moldovans, especially in rural areas.

News from the neighborhood

We will be posting major news stories from Ukraine and Romania on occasion.

Second nuclear plant in the country to be built by 2030

Romanian diplomat suspected in hit-and-run accident in Singapore

Romanian Film Week Opens in Beijing


Putin Hits at Ukraine Oil Tariff Demands

Ukraine's Economy Starts Recovery - P.M.

First non-Communist-dominated Parliament in eight years ends winter session, goes on break

Parliament ended its fall-winter session yesterday. M.P.s will be going on break, most likely until February.

This is the first time in eight years when the Party of Communists has not held a majority in the legislature, and the ruling Alliance for European Integration stressed the importance of this alternation in power during the last session.

The legislators had 30 meetings, during which they adopted 129 draft laws.

Balkan Insight investigation: Moldova featured in "Fields of Terror – the New Slave Trade in the Heart of Europe"

BalkanInsight recently published an investigative article the "new slave trade in the heart of Europe."

Moldova was part of the investigation.

The full article can be read here.

First independent news agency in Moldova shuts down, citing financial crisis

BASA-press, the first independent news agency in Moldova, founded in 1992, recently announced that it would shut down because of financial problems.

BASA-press manager Sergiu Ipatii told Mediafax that the move had nothing to do with the changing political climate in the country.

In the last few years, the company had a new owner and was accused by some analysts of losing its independence in favor of a more pro-Communist line.

Many of the journalists who founded BASA went on to work for Radio Free Europe (both in Chisinau and in Prague), the British Broadcasting Corporation office in Chisinau, and various other news agencies and media organizations in the country.

In the 1990s, the agency had become a notorious provider of independent news and laid the groundwork for journalistic standards in the country.

Eastern Partnership expected to be a priority of incoming Spanish E.U. presidency

On January 1, Spain will take over the E.U. presidency.

It is expected that the country will consider the E.U.'s Eastern Partnership program to be a "priority" since earlier this month Spanish secretary of state for E.U. affairs, Diego Lopez Garrido, told the six countries they would get considerable attention.

A more detailed story can be read here.

World news round-up

Once in a while, we will be posting a number of links to some of the main topics being covered by world media organizations. Generally speaking, we will have about three or four links to editorials and features.

The Guardian recently posted an editorial entitled The trouble with TwitterFar from delivering a 'wisdom of crowds', social networking sites have created only a deafening banality.

Times Online - Iran is moving close to tipping point of revolution

New York Times - Obama Is Told of Signs That Should Have Grounded Plot

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Parliament rejects Voronin's candidacy to Moldovan delegation at PACE

Parliament has rejected the candidacy of two leading Communists - former President and Party of Communists (PC) head Vladimir Voronin and Grigore Petrenco - for Moldova's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

In protest, the Communists withdrew all of their candidates and threatened to complain to PACE officials.

Liberal Democratic head Vitalie Nagacevschi noted that Mr. Voronin would not have been able to perform well at PACE because he has missed all but four legislative meetings during the latest session.


Moldovan delegation headed by P.M. Vlad Filat to visit U.S. on January 19-23, to sign loan agreement

A Moldovan delegation headed by Prime Minister Vlad Filat, Foreign Affairs and European Integration Minister Iurie Leanca, and Economy and Commerce Minister Valeriu Lazar, will be going on an official visit to the United States on January 19-23.

During the visit, the officials will sign a Compact Agreement with the Millenium Challenge Corporation, which will grant Chisinau 262 million U.S. dollars for the development of Moldovan agriculture and for the rehabilitation of roads.

Feature on Moldova-born Ph.D. currently working in Maryland recently published a feature on Lilian Pintea, a Moldova-born Ph.D. (University of Minnesota) who currently works in Maryland.

An excerpt:
"You could say that Lilian, who is 38, has already lived through two democratic revolutions. A native of Moldova, he was studying ecology in Moscow when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. He subsequently came to the U.S. as a Fulbright scholar and earned a PhD in conservation biology from the University of Minnesota. As a specialist in geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing, he has watched technology that was once reserved for elites in the developed world spread to the rest of the world, including remote villages in the global south."

The full story can be read here.

Local U.S. paper: Visit Odessa, Moldova, Romania because "with our help, this region will reach its potential and become a strong ally of the U.S."

The Stuttgart Daily Leader, a local paper from the American state of Arkansas, recently posted a news story about a trip to Odessa.

The feature mentions Moldova in a few paragraphs, as well.

An excerpt:
"My colleagues in Chisinau, the capitol of the Republic of Moldova, however, were very insistent that the bus ride to Odessa would be very pleasant. They urged me to experience the world of the average Eastern European with no translator or guide."

U.S. Congresswoman introduces res. asking NATO and EU countries not to sell major weapons to Russia, says Russia needs to withdraw troops from Moldova

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican congresswoman from Florida, recently introduced a resolution "expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that France and other member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union should decline to sell major weapons systems or offensive military equipment to the Russian Federation."

The bill is co-sponsored by John Shimkus, a Republican congressman from Illinois.

It mentioned, among other things, that NATO and E.U. states should not give Russia major weapons systems until Moscow has "fulfilled its commitments to withdraw its military forces from the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova."

The text of the resolution is available here.

The resolution has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is currently being analyzed.

Separatist leader reinforces threat to impose visa regime on Chisinau

Igor Smirnov, head of the breakaway Transnistrian republic, was recently quoted by local news agency Olvia Press that he stands by his earlier statements that he could impose a visa regime on Chisinau if Moldovan authorities continue to allegedly confiscate Russian and Ukrainian passports from Transnistrian inhabitants.

"I think that Russia and Ukraine could engage in the same response if Chisinau continues to do this," Mr. Smirnov added.

Separatist leader: Ukraine interested in the "consolidation of Transnistria's statehood"

Transnistrian leader Igor Smirnov is quoted by local news agency Olvia Press as saying that "Ukraine is interested in the consolidation of Transnistria's statehood" despite the fact that Kiev's and Moscow's official positions are the respect of Moldova's statehood.

Mr. Smirnov made the statements in the wake of Kiev's request that Transnistria return to the negotiations table.

Hungarian ForMin: Eastern Partnership is not an anteroom to E.U. membership

Peter Balazs, the Hungarian Foreign Minister spoke with Azeri news portal on Monday about the Nabucco gas pipeline project and about the Eastern Partnership program.

Mr. Balasz said that the Nabucco project will be on track in 2010 because investment decisions will be made then.

In addition, the Hungarian Prime Minister noted that the European Union's Eastern Partnership is "not an anteroom to the Union," but an attempt by the E.U. to carry out reforms.

The Eastern Partnership includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine).

Moldovan authorities have been very hopeful about opening up ties with the E.U., including via the Eastern Partnership.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Social Democratic Party National Council votes against fusion with Democrats

The Social Democratic Party (SDP), a small center-left party that failed to gain seats in the last two legislative elections, held a National Council meeting today to decide whether to accept a fusion proposal with the Democratic Party made by National Council head Iurie Bolboceanu.

The SDP decided against the fusion, however. SDP head Dumitru Braghis, a former Prime Minister, had been a vocal opponent of joining the Democrats.

The Democratic Party is currently part of the ruling Alliance for European Integration. It is headed by Communist defector Marian Lupu, and, according to many analysts, the party is trying to become the leading center-left group in Moldova.

The Democrats' failure to unite with the SDP will mean some degree of fragmentation on the left side of the political spectrum in Moldova, which may be exacerbated after Moldovan millionaire Nicolae Ciornii announced he wanted to form a left-wing party, as did a few recent defectors from the Party of Communists, including Vladimir Turcan.


Chisinau mayor: No more Facebook for city hall employees during work

Chisinau mayor Dorin Chirtoaca held a meeting with city hall employees today, and criticized some of them for wasting time downloading books and movies on the internet.

Someone had apparently downloaded "a few movies by Fellini," Mr. Chirtoaca noted.

"I don't have time to sleep at night," the mayor stressed, while city hall employees used up 123 GB.

Mr. Chirtoaca ordered that social networking sites like Facebook be banned for city employees while they are at work.


Wall Street Journal: Rethinking Europe's energy policy

Moldova recently joined the European Energy Community, and the new ruling coalition has announced that it will try to develop stronger ties with the E.U.'s energy market.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article that is of relevance to this topic.

Moldova in top of rejected asylum applications in Ireland

The Independent recently posted a news story about the state of asylum applications in Ireland, whose level has fallen to its lowest levels in the last decade.

The article also mentions that Moldova is in the top of countries that were sources of failed asylum seekers, who are normally deported back to their home country.

Nigeria topped the list, with 149 deported, followed by Georgia, with 12, and by South Africa, Moldova, and Croatia, each with less than ten.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

World: Violent protests continue in Iran, deaths reported (PHOTO)

Anti-Government protesters in Iran clashed with police forces on December 27, the date of an important Shiite holiday and the seven-day anniversary of the death of one of the most visible and respected dissident clerics in the country.

Witnesses say that police has opened fire on protesters.

Some pictures from the protests are available here and here.

Iran and Moldova have often been mentioned together as the site of anti-Government protests fueled by social networking sites like Twitter. In Moldova, however, the opposition managed to win elections and defeat the Communists. The regime in Iran seems much stronger.

Two new books to cover the experience of Moldovan migrant workers, post-1989 politics

World Bank Publications recently released a volume on the experience of migrant workers from Moldova, Albania, Egypt, and Tunisia. The book is called Migration and Skills: The Experience of Migrant Workers from Moldova, Albania, Egypt, and Tunisia.

According to the byline of the book, it "intends to unravel the complex relationship between migration and skills development based on case studies of potential and return migrants from Moldova, Albania, Egypt and Tunisia."

In addition, the prestigious Cambridge University Press will soon release a textbook entitled Central and Southeast European Politics since 1989, which will include a chapter on Moldova by Steven D. Roper, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Eastern Illinois University in the U.S.

#pman, one of the accounts used during Moldova's "Twitter Revolution," included in Mashable's 2009 As Seen Through Twitter Hashtags

Mashable recently released its "2009 As Seen Through Twitter Hashtags," in which #pman and #iranelection are included as significant events that unfolded on Twitter.

The entire year review can be read here.

Autonomous Gagauz region installs monuments of former Azeri President Heidar Alyiev and of Suleyman Demirel

The autonomous Gagauz region in Moldova recently installed the monuments of Heydar Alyiev and Suleyman Demirel in the regional capital of Comrat.

Mr. Alyiev was President of Azerbaijan between 1993 and 2003, after which his son Ilham Alyiev took over. Mr. Demirel was Turkish Prime Minister and President.

The Gagauz are a Christianized Turkic minority living in the south of Moldova. Although tense, their ties with Chisinau have been more constructive than Transnistria's relationship with Moldovan authorities.

Mihail Formuzal, the region's Baskan (governor), said that the monuments were installed because the Gagauz people had common origins with the Azeri and the Turkish people, and because the two countries had helped the autonomous region.

The special status of the region was adopted by the Moldovan legislature on December 23, 1994. The region is thusly celebrating its 15th-year anniversary.

Moldova the least visited country by Canadians in 2008

The Ottawa Citizen, a Canadian newspaper, recently posted an article about the five best places residents have been overlooking as tourist spots: Iceland, Uruguay, Martinique, Bangladesh, and Greenland.

Toward the end of the article, the author mentions that the country least-visited by Canadians in 2008 was Moldova. No further details or numbers are available.

The feeling is not mutual, however. More and more Moldovans have been heading to Canada as immigrants, and, as they settle there, our country could perhaps become a more popular destination for Canadians (albeit of Moldovan origin).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

New York Times: The Difficulty of Being Ukraine

The New York Times recently hosted an editorial about Ukraine by Mark Medish, a former senior director for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs on the National Security Council in President Clinton's Administration.

An excerpt:
"Ukrainians and their Western partners alike should stick to a balanced path of reform and long-term sustainability, not quick fixes and grand gestures. The end of the Orange era will not be the end of Ukraine’s independence — nor of its Euro-Atlantic identity."

The full article is available here.

U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China: Beijing said West used Twitter and YouTube for subversive purposes, citing Moldova and Iran

The United States Congressional-Executive Commission on China posted its annual report in the fall of 2009.

In the sub-chapter on censorship of the internet, the report says that "in August 2009, the Chinese military newspaper PLA Daily warned that Twitter and YouTube were being used by Western forces as subversive tools, citing their use by those opposed to election results in Moldova and Iran."

The full report (warning: it is a 468-page PDF file) can be read here.

Washington Post editorial: A revisionist Russia seems determined to revert to a 19th-century policy of "spheres of influence"

Washington Post recently hosted an editorial about Russia's conception of Europe, written by Ronald D. Asmus, a former deputy assistant Secretary of State in the Clinton administration. Mr. Asmus was also a U.S. negotiator during the 1999 Istanbul Charter of the OSCE.

An excerpt:
"But the enlargement of NATO and the European Union were not some geopolitical gambit by the West to humiliate Russia. It was our response to the affected countries' legitimate wish to undo an artificial separation and become part of the West to secure a democratic peace."

The full article can be read here.

Moldova-born woman is leading figure in movement that says Obama was not born in the U.S.

Orly Taitz, a Chisinau-born woman, has made it into some tops of political newsmakers of 2009 as a result of her activities to prove that Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.

This movement - often called "the birthers" - challenges Mr. Obama's eligibility to serve as U.S. President and has filed numerous law suits in this regard.

In order to serve as President, one has to be born in America.

Yanukovich wants to join Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union

Viktor Yanukovych, one of the main contenders for the presidential election in Ukraine on January 17, 2010, recently said that he would like to join the Customs Union created between Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

The Union is supposed to begin functioning on January 1, 2010. It seeks to create a single economic area between the three countries by 2012.

If Mr. Yanukovich wins and follows through on his promise, the Customs Union would then reach Moldovan borders. Provided that the Alliance stays in power, it is unlikely Chisinau would join the Union considering the fact that the coalition has begun to look increasingly to the West.

Straseni mayor assaults reporter

On December 24, Constantin Priguza, mayor of the city of Straseni (not far from Chisinau), verbally and physically assaulted a reporter who was recording a public meeting of the Straseni city council.

The reporter is a member of Hyde Park, a Chisinau-based NGO.

Mr. Priguza, who is a member of the Moldova Noastra [Our Moldova] Alliance (MNA), later said that the video recording of the assault is not real.

MNA is part of the ruling Alliance for European Integration. MNA head Serafim Urecheanu told the press he is still unclear about what happened in Straseni.


After Germany, Moldova has second largest number of Ukrainian citizens

Election authorities in Kiev recently released information saying that 36.953,95 million people are expected at the presidential poll on January 17, 2010.

Furthermore, most Ukrainian citizens living abroad reside in Germany (101,928), Moldova (71,357), and Russia (57,209).

Most Ukrainian citizens in Moldova live in the breakaway republic of Transnistria.


Kiev asks separatists in Transnistria to resume negotiations

Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Secretary Raisa Bohatyriova recently met with Transnistrian leader Igor Smirnov.

Ms. Bohatyriova noted that Kiev continues to support Moldova's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and urged Mr. Smirnov to resume negotiations in the 5+2 format.

The format includes Moldova and Transnistria as parties to the conflict, Ukraine, the OSCE, and Russia as mediators, and the United States and the European Union as observers.

Russian paper: Former Soviet republics hindering improved Russia-EU relations

Russian newspaper Izvestia recently published an article about Russian-E.U. ties, arguing that countries like Estonia and Latvia would not like to see the relationship between Moscow and Brussels improve, including because of the Eastern Partnership project.

An excerpt:
"Although Europe cannot boast U.S.-style honesty, it was interesting to learn which EU country would be the first to torpedo the Italian initiative and under what pretext. In their joint statement, Latvian and Estonian foreign ministers, Maris Riekstins and Urmas Paet, said Brussels should link the EU-Russia visa-free travel issue with the broader context of abolishing visas for the citizens of Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Belarus covered by the EU's Eastern Partnership program."

The full story can be read here.

Friday, December 25, 2009

An Imedia exclusive: Moş Crăciun spotted in Chişinău, allegedly distributing gifts

Moş Crăciun was recently seen by an Imedia reporter in Chisinau. He is allegedly distributing presents, and promises to come back for Old Style Christmas, as well.

Witnesses say he has a white beard and is dressed in red. Authorities have not yet confirmed the sightings.

Mr. Crăciun was not available for an interview.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

As ties with Bucharest improve, Moldova to open new consulate in border city of Iasi

The Government recently approved the opening of a Moldovan consulate in the city of Iasi, Romania.

The decision comes after Chisinau allowed Romania to open three more consulates in Moldova - in Balti (north), Cahul (south), and Ungheni (right at the border with Romania).

The former Communist Government had refused to allow Bucharest to open up additional consulates, as a result of which the Chisinau consulate was the only place where Moldovans could get visas for Romania. Consequently, the consulate became notorious for its long lines.

Iasi is right at the border with Moldova and is one of the largest cities in the country. Many Moldovan students attend high school and university there.


Moldova to open embassy in Spain

The Moldovan Government approved a decision to open a Moldovan embassy in Spain. Deputy P.M. and Foreign Affairs Minister Iurie Leanca said the move is necessary because Moldovans in Spain have to go to the Moldovan embassies in Paris or Lisbon if they need assistance.

It is unclear how many Moldovans live in Spain, but that number is probably at least in the thousands. Most of them engage in menial jobs like construction and home-care. According to some statistical data, more than 500,000 Moldovans are currently working abroad.


Mikheil Saakashvili: In the last few years, Moldova did everything Russia told it to do

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili recently spoke with Russian radio station Ekho Moskvi. During the interview, the Georgian head of state mentioned Moldova. Responding to arguments that if countries refused to join the European Union and NATO, Russia would provide more help, Mr. Saakashvili said:

"Moldova is a great example here. In the last few years, Chisinau did everything Russia asked it to. So what? Where is Transnistria now? ... [Moldova] also declared neutrality, did not attend GUAM, the President did not attend the Eastern Partnership meeting. ... How did this solve problems? On the contrary, problems only deepened," the Georgian President noted.

Mr. Saakashvili is mostly referring to the former Communist Government, which has been accused of being pro-Russian. GUAM is a regional organization made up of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova. Especially after the color revolutions in the first two countries, Russia has accused this organization of being pro-Western.

(translation of the passage was from the original Russian).

Interim President to donate part of his salary every month to son of young man killed during April repression

Interim President and Speaker Mihai Ghimpu announced today that he would donate part of his salary - 1,000 lei (about 100 dollars) - every month to Dragos Boboc, the son of Valeriu Boboc.

Mr. Boboc was beaten to death on the night of April 7, when the Communist authorities started a mass repression campaign that ended with the detainment of 700 people and the beating and torture of 300 of them, according to a recent Soros Foundation report. On that day, a group of protesters vandalized the Parliament and Presidential buildings in protest of what they said were stolen elections. The Communists won nearly 50 percent on April 5.

It is still unclear who killed Valeriu Boboc. The ruling Alliance for European Integration has promised to find the perpetrators.


Romanian President: "The creation of favorable premises for Moldova to join the EU will be among the priorities of my new term in office"

Romanian President Traian Basescu, who recently won his second term in office, laid out his foreign policy priorities on Monday.

Mr. Basescu noted that "the creation of favorable premises for Moldova to join the EU will be among the priorities of my new term in office."

The President also hailed the new pro-Western Government in Chisinau and noted that the change in power in Moldova "remind me of my belief that it will not be long
until all Romanians will share the same European destiny."


Editorial: Twitter alters politics, including in Moldova

ZDNet recently posted a guest editorial about the importance of Twitter for political change. Moldova comes up in the article.

An excerpt:

"I recently spoke to a U.S. Department of State sponsored delegation from Moldova. I followed the “Moldovan Twitter Revlolution” (#pman) in April when the Communist Party in that country tried to steal an election. Most members of the delegation were reporters and told me how student leaders used Twitter to organize flash mobs in the capital that garnered international attention."

Full story here.

Chisinau withdraws from CIS Economic Court

Parliament announced yesterday that it will be withdrawing from the Commonwealth of Independent States Economic Court.

Deputy Justice Minister Oleg Efrim said that the Court had not been a major site of economic dispute resolution in the CIS.

The Economic Court is headquartered in Minsk, Belarus. It was formed in 1992.

Armenia withdrew from the organization in 2006. Turkmenistan and Ukraine did not originally join the organization in 1992.

Pro-Russian organization pickets U.S. Embassy

The League of Russian Youth (LRY), a pro-Russian group from Moldova, picketed the U.S. Embassy in Moldova today.

The LRY said it was thusly protesting against Georgia's decision to demolish a Soviet-era World War II monument.

In addition, the protesters expressed their disappointment with the U.S. voting against a Russia-proposed U.N. resolution against the destruction of World War II memorials. Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, and all of the E.U. countries abstained from this vote.

Igor Tuliantev, LRY head, said that Moldova abstained from the vote because it wanted to please the U.S., "which is conducting propaganda about this topic."

Previously, on November 24, the LRY said it did not want to study the history of Romanians in Moldovan schools.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kazakhstan to host informal meeting of OSCE foreign ministers in 2010

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev recently announced that his country would host an informal meeting of OSCE foreign ministers in 2010.

Kazakhstan is to hold the OSCE chairmanship this coming year.

One of the most stringent problems with which the OSCE has had to deal is the Transnistrian conflict in Moldova, which has remained unresolved since the civil war ended in 1992.

Estonian Foreign Affairs Minister: E.U. should not award visa-free travel to Russians before awarding it to Eastern Partnership countries

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet recently told Russian news agency Interfax that "it will hardly be reasonable from a political point of view to solve this question [Imedia: visa-free travel] with Russia earlier than with the participants of the Eastern Partnership program."

Mr. Paet was reacting to statements by Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, who recently said that Russians could travel to the E.U. without visas as early as 2010.

American soccer player writing book about "toils" of playing in Moldova

Colin Burns, a soccer player from the American state of Delaware, was recently interviewed for a feature in a local U.S. newspaper. The paper said that Mr. Burns is writing a book about his "toils" playing for Moldova. Further details were not available.

The story is available here.

Separatist leaders: We may impose visa regime on Chisinau

Separatist leader Igor Smirnov said during a recent meeting with Special Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Charalampos Christopoulos that Transnistria could impose a visa regime on Chisinau.

Mr. Smirnov noted that this policy would constitute retaliation for alleged confiscations by Moldovan border guards of Russian and Ukrainian passports held by Transnistrians trying to cross into the territory controlled by Chisinau. The Transnistrian leader says the border guards do so with anyone who does not have a residence permit to travel to Moldova.


Future Romanian Economy Minister: Moldova a priority for Romanian electricity interconnection projects

Adriean Videanu, Romania's future Economy, Trade, and Business Minister, said during a hearing in front of legislators on Tuesday that Moldova is a priority for Bucharest when it comes to setting up energy interconnection pipelines.

Among other things, Mr. Videanu was referring to the Suceava (Romania) - Balti (Moldova) 400 kW electrical interconnection line.

European officials to send High Level Policy Advisory Mission to Moldova to "guide and support political and economic reforms"

During a recent visit to Moldova, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the Commissioner for Trade and European Neighbourhood Policy, said that European officials will "provide Moldova with a High Level Policy Advisory Mission to guide and support political and economic reforms."

A fuller story is available here.

Separatist leader meets with OSCE officials, says only talks can solve the Transnistrian conflict

Igor Smirnov, the President of the breakaway republic of Transnistria in eastern Moldova, recently met with Charalampos Christopoulos, the special representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office.

Mr. Smirnov said that only talks can solve the Transnistrian conflict, but noted that certain guarantees were necessary for each side to be able to work together.

Chisinau has not been able to control Transnistria since 1992, after the separatists took over in the wake of a short but bloody civil war.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Refugees from Transnistria get apartments from city hall

Chisinau mayor Dorin Chirtoaca announced today that 61 families that fleed the separatist republic as a result of the Transnistrian civil war in 1992 will receive apartments from city hall.

Mr. Chirtoaca noted that some of the refugees fought on Moldova's side during the war.

Many refugees have been waiting for these apartments for a long time. The topic has been very contentious throughout time. At one point, a group of former combatants took over an apartment building intended for M.P.s in Chisinau.

In wake of terrorist attack, authorities fence in downtown area, create check-points during holiday events

In order to prevent other terrorist attacks, authorities have announced that the city will be subject to heightened security measures during the holidays. Normally, numerous concerts and other events are hosted in the capital, mostly downtown. A bomb was detonated in downtown Chisinau during city day on October 14. The perpetrator has not yet been apprehended.

As a safety measure, officials have said that they will fence in the Great National Assembly Square downtown and will set up checkpoints to monitor the individuals who go in an out.


Alliance M.P.: Communist M.P. and I had a fist-fight

ProTV recently posted an interview with Democratic Party M.P. Andrei Popov, who said that he was physically attacked by Communist M.P. Iurie Muntean after a verbal fight in Parliament.

Mr. Popov said he called Mr. Muntean a "boor," after which the Communist M.P. asked him to step into a private office. As soon as the two arrived in the private office, Mr. Popov said that Mr. Muntean started punching him, and that he defended himself as a result.

The Alliance M.P. noted that no blows to the face were thrown. Mr. Muntean denies all accusations.

The two M.P.s have exchanged tough words in the past. During a debate before the legislative election on July 29, Mr. Popov and Mr. Muntean got very heated on television.

Mr. Muntean has also accused Mr. Popov of asking for certain favors when Mr. Muntean worked in the Economy Ministry, but the Democrat says Mr. Muntean is lying.

Moldovan officials meet E.U. representatives, talks about visa-free travel to E.U. to start in 2010

Prime Minister Vlad Filat and Foreign Affairs and European Integration Minister Iurie Leanca were in Brussels at the beginning of the week to talk to E.U. officials about the country's European aspirations.

The Moldovan and E.U. officials decided to release a joint statement, in which they spoke about "the need to uphold human rights standards, democratic principles and the rule of law in Moldova, stressing the role of civil society in this context" and "to set up in 2010 a dialogue examining the conditions for visa-free travel of Moldovan citizens to the EU as a long-term goal."

The joint statement can be read here.

Monday, December 21, 2009

SeeNews: Industrial output in Transnistria falls 34.6 percent

According to SeeNews, Transnistria's industrial output between January and November 2009 fell by 34.6 percent.

The separatist region, where most of Moldova's industry is located, has been heavily affected by the global economic crisis.

More ship trouble: Ukrainian ship traveling from Moldova to Turkey runs aground in Danube Delta

A Ukrainian ship owned by HoldAen Fish Ltd (Sevastopol, Ukraine) recently went aground in the Danube Delta.

The ship was travelling from the Moldovan port of Giurgiulesti to Turkey. The 12 crewmembers are safe. No environmental damage seems to have been caused.

Late last week, a Moldovan oil carrier ship broke in half in Russia.

AP: Romanian President sworn in, says he wants close ties to Moldova and the U.S.

Romanian President Traian Basescu, who recently won the presidential election, was sworn in on Monday for his second term in office.

Mr. Basescu told M.P.s in the Romanian legislature that he seeks close ties with Moldova and with the United States.

Mr. Basescu is a well-known proponent of privileged ties with Chisinau. He won 95 percent of the vote of Romanian residents in Moldova.

An AP story on the topic can be read here.

Small pro-Western party asks for ban on Communist symbols

The National Liberal Party (NLP), a small pro-Western party, recently asked Moldovan authorities to ban Communist symbols and condemn the crimes of Communism in the country.

The NLP says that if the ruling Alliance does not do so, "the economic situation and the continuing involvement of imperial Russian circles in our domestic affairs" can bring the "anti-national and anti-European Communists" back to power.

Earlier this year, an NGO headed by Democratic Party deputy head Oleg Serebrian made a similar request.

The NLP is one of the few Moldovan parties headed by a woman - former M.P. Vitalia Pavlicenco. It failed to cross the electoral threshold during the April 5 legislative elections and withdrew from the July 29 race in favor of the four parties currently making up the Alliance for European Integration.


Unemployed man allegedly kills himself near Defense Ministry building

Mihai Solcan, a 48-year-old man from Chisinau, was found shot in the head today near the Defense Ministry building. Authorities say he most likely killed himself with a personal weapon.

Until recently, Mr. Solcan had been the technical director of Air Moldova, the major airline company in the country, but was fired about a month ago.

Witnesses say that he was wearing his uniform, which may indicate that his alleged suicide was tied to his being fired.


CIS members to set up nanotechnology center

Officials from members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, including Moldova, met this weekend to sign documents setting up a nanotechnology center.

The center will be located in the town of Dubna, right outside of Moscow.

A fuller story is available here.

Moldovan oil carrier ship breaks in half in Russia because of storm, no victims

A Moldovan ship that belongs to a foreign company broke in two in Sochi (Russia) on December 19, where it was anchored. The crew members, all of them Ukrainians and Russians, have been rescued.

The oil-carrying ship, which had 37 tons of diesel fuel on board, allegedly broke down because of a storm. The cargo will be evacuated without causing environmental damage.

Prime Minister Vlad Filat asked for an investigation of the case. A press release from the Government says that Moldova has 435 ships, most of which are being
used overseas.

E.U., Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia abstain from Russian U.N. resolution condemning glorification of Nazism

On December 18, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a draft resolution, proposed by Russia, condemning the glorification of Nazism and the destruction of World War II monuments.

The U.S. voted against the resolution, while the E.U., Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia abstained from the vote. Russia was outraged at this abstension, especially because Moscow officials said soldiers from the three former Soviet countries had fought against fascism during World War II.

Russia's proposal may be related to recent events in Georgia, where authorities took down a Soviet World War II memorial in Kutaisi, which Russia called an act of "barbarism."

Georgian authorities demolished the Soviet monument to make room for a new legislative building where M.P.s can hold their plenary sessions.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

44 M.P.s who were in the first Moldovan Parliament join the Liberal Democratic Party

A number of 44 M.P.s who were in the first Moldovan legislature after the country's independence joined the Liberal Democratic Party during the party congress today.

This event carries on a special significance because a lot of these M.P.s were part of the early movement for national liberation at the end of the 1980s in the Soviet Union and were some of the earliest promoters of Moldova's pro-Western orientation.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is the largest member of the current ruling Alliance for European Integration. Prime Minister Vlad Filat is LDP head.


Story on brain drain to Turkey includes feature on Moldovan student

Today's Zaman recently published an article on the increasing popularity of Turkey as a choice for international students. The story includes a short interview with a Moldovan student.

It can be read here.

Moldova and Ukraine given conditional green light to membership in European Energy Community

Moldova and Ukraine were recently given a conditional green light for membership in the European Energy Community. The treaty seeks to set up a single framework for energy regulation on the continent.

A more complete story is available here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

EBRD to provide $5M to micro and small businesses in Moldova

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development recently announced that it will make five million U.S. dollars available to micro and small businesses in Moldova.

The loans will mostly go toward rural businesses.

Moldova has been heavily affected by the economic crisis, and has had to rely on numerous loans to recover.

A fuller story is available here.

Eurostat: Largest group of foreign citizens in Romania come from Moldova, Turkey, and China

According to data provided by Eurostat, the largest number of foreign citizens in Romania come from Moldova (5,500), Turkey (2,200), and China (1,900).

Chisinau asks E.U. for temporary lift of travel ban imposed on separatist leaders

Deputy P.M. Victor Osipov recently asked European diplomats in Moldova for a six-month suspension of the travel interdiction on certain leaders in the breakaway republic of Transnistria.

Mr. Osipov said that this decision would allow the Transnistrian leaders to prove that they can eliminate the problems that led to the application of the E.U. interdictions, according a press release from the Government.

The European Union imposed a travel ban on Transnistrian leaders in 2003 and has renewed it ever since. The ban was imposed for the alleged lack of cooperation on Transnistria's side over the resolution of the conflict there.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

P.M. and Foreign Affairs Minister to head to Brussels next week in hopes of signing document about Moldova's European integration

Prime Minister Vlad Filat and Foreign Affairs Minister Iurie Leanca will head to Brussels next week to meet with various European Union officials.

Chisinau hopes to sign a document establishing certain timelines and principles for Moldova's European integration.

The new ruling Alliance for European Integration has said that its priority is for Moldova to join the European Union.

P.M. orders barbed wire at border with Romania to be removed

Prime Minister Vlad Filat asked the State Office to prepare a package of documents to initiate the process of taking down the barbed wire on the Romanian border. Mr. Filat said that Moldova cannot talk about European integration while having barbed wire on the river Prut, which acts as a natural border between Romania and Moldova.

The State Office's report will include an assessment of the impact of taking down the barbed wire fence on special areas protested by the state, like natural reservations.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Moldovan millionaire to form left-wing party, some see connection with recent departure of four Communists from the faction

Nicolae Ciornii, a Moldovan millionaire and soon to be former deputy President of Russian oil giant Lukoil, held a press conference today to announce that he intends to form a new left-wing party.

Mr. Ciornii did not provide many details and said more information about the project will be available in January.

Some analysts have seen a connection between Mr. Ciornii's announcement and the recent departure of four Communist M.P.s from the Communist faction in Parliament. The four announced they were planning on starting a new party, as well.

Communist head and former President Vladimir Voronin (2001-2009) reacted to this announcement by recommending to Mr. Ciornii to build a stadium instead of getting involved in politics. Mr. Ciornii owns the Zimbru soccer club in Chisinau.


Large volumes of snowfall cause one death, dozens of accidents

In the last day or so, Moldova has experienced large volumes of snowfall that have led to numerous accidents and one death.

Tens of villages in the country have been cut off from electricity.

Meteorologists say that snow will continue falling into Saturday.

Stirea Zilei and JurnalTV have some footage from Chisinau, where the roads are barely visible from all the snow.

Farmer stages protest against pressures from Communists, collects funds to "send Voronin into retirement"

Stanislav Ivanita, a farmer who spilled milk in front of the Government building last summer to protest against the policies of the Party of Communists, who was in power at the time, organized another demonstration today.

Carrying a few banners urging Communist head and former President Vladimir Voronin to retire, Mr. Ivanita started a collection of money to help Mr. Voronin withdraw from public life.

Mr. Ivanita was then the first person to put one leu in a transparent collection box, urging others to do the same.

The farmer said that if Mr. Voronin did not want the money, he would donate it for a monument to the victims of communism, especially for Valeriu Boboc, the young man who was beaten to death by security forces on the night of April 7.

"We should collect money until Christmas and build a monument for Valeriu Boboc, to make sure that he is the last victim of communism," a teary-eyed Mr. Ivanita added.


Center for American Progress: The United States can help Moldova through a difficult period in its history

The Center for American Progress, an American policy research and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., recently published a long feature on the political crisis in Moldova.

An excerpt:
"The situation in Moldova now seems likely to take one of three paths. First, legislative elections—probably sometime in the summer of 2010—might take place as the constitution demands. Second, the ruling coalition could initiate a referendum to amend the constitution to allow for direct presidential elections. Third, the parliament could adopt legislation to lower the number of MP votes needed to choose a president to a simple majority of MPs."

The full article can be read here.

Moldova condemns recent election in Georgian breakaway republic of Abkhazia

Moldova recently aligned itself with a statement from the European Union, in which the E.U. condemns the recent election in the Georgian breakaway republic of Abkhazia and asserts the sovereign integrity of the Republic of Georgia.

Abkhazia is recognized by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and, most recently, Nauru, as an independent country.

Moldova has its own breakaway republic in the east - Transnistria - which is not, however, recognized as an independent country by any country in the world.

A more detailed story is available here.

New Bulgarian governmental program seeks to boost Sofia's ties to Bulgarian community in Moldova, other countries

The Agency for Bulgarians Abroad recently announced that it is working on a new program that seeks to boost Sofia's links to Bulgarian communities abroad, especially in places like Moldova.

A full story is available here.

National Bureau of Statistics: GDP falls by 7.7 percent in the first nine months of 2009

The National Bureau of Statistics recently released a statement in which it said that between January and September 2009, Moldova's Gross Domestic Product fell 7.7 percent compared to the same period last year.

Industry, constructions, transports and communications, and taxes on products suffered the most during this period.

Moldova has been seriously affected by the economic crisis, and the Government will most likely use money from international funding organizations to pay for salaries and pensions.

Radio Free Europe: Chess, Poker, And Kickboxing In Moldovan Politics

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty recently published an article by former OSCE mission head to Moldova Louis O'Neill (2006-2008).

An excerpt:
"And the rhetoric on both sides has turned even uglier, taking on a fight-to-the-death quality. Prime Minister Vlad Filat lamented that the AIE "hadn't done everything possible" to get Lupu elected, "being excessively permissive" with the Communists. In clarifying what he meant, Filat again invoked the raw power of political prosecutions for winning the day: "We need to be more incisive and let the law enforcement organs do their work." Thus, the country's prime minister suggested that negotiations over electing Lupu failed because the AIE provided "insufficient motivation" for the Communists, including not having criminal cases ready over the "illegalities committed by the previous [Communist] government.""

The full text is available here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Authorities will not initiate criminal investigation of priest who organized anti-Semitic gathering

The General Prosecutor has decided to refrain from initiating a criminal investigation of Anatolie Cibric, the priest who organized the anti-Semitic demonstration in downtown Chisinau on Sunday.

Mr. Cibric may instead get a 600-leu fine (about 60 U.S. dollars).

Authorities made this decision after a meeting between police officers and prosecutors, which was also attended by representatives of the Jewish community in Moldova. The representatives said they do not seek for a criminal investigation to be opened, but would like for such events not to take place anymore.


Four Communist M.P.s leave faction

Four Communist M.P.s announced their departure from the faction during a legislative meeting today. The deputies said they made their decision in protest of the Party of Communists' boycott of the repeat presidential election on December 7, which caused early legislative elections.

Vladimir Turcan, Victor Stepaniuc, Valentin Guznac, and Ludmila Belcencova will become independent M.P.s. Mr. Turcan said previously that he would like to start his own left-wing political party.

Communist M.P. Mark Tkaciuk said that the four M.P.s who left were the "conservative wing" of the party and were preventing its development. Mr. Tkaciuk also said that Mr. Stepaniuc and Mr. Turcan were thrown out of the faction for "intrigue and informational blackmail."

The Communist M.P. also called them "traitors."

There is some confusion about the exact chronology of events. Mr. Turcan announced the departure of the four M.P.s at the beginning of the legislative session, but immediately after that, Maria Postoico, head of the Communist faction in the legislature, announced that the four had already been thrown out of the faction that morning and asked them to leave Parliament and to give their seats to other Communist M.P.s on the electoral list. The four former Communist M.P.s are not required by law to give up their seats if they leave a party.


IsraelNationalNews: "US Neo-Nazis and Moldova Christians Darken Chanukah Lights"

IsraelNationalNews recently published a story about the anti-Semitic manifestation in Chisinau on Sunday, when dozens of fundamentalist Christian Orthodox believers took down a Hanukkan menorah.

The event in Moldova is included among world-wide anti-Semitic manifestations, including a Neo-Nazi protest in the American state of Connecticut.

The story can be read here.

The event has been picked up by a series of Jewish news outlets, and by news organizations like the Associated Press. Some of the stories can be read here, here, here, here, and here.

EUObserver: "Human rights watchdog slams Moldovan Communists," protesters "beaten to death"

EUObserver, a news portal that covers topics in Europe, recently posted a story about a human rights watchdog criticizing Moldovan Communists for the way in which they handled protests in April 2009.

The full story is available here.

Russian couple gets sentenced for torturing and killing adopted children from Transnistria

A Russian couple has been sentenced by a Moscow court for torturing and killing their adopted children from the breakaway republic of Transnistria.

A fuller story is available here.

Poll: Only 2% of Russians trust acting President Mihai Ghimpu, 3% think Moldova is Russia's most trusted partner in the international arena

According to a recent poll published by the All-Russian Public Opinion Studies Center, only three percent of Russians think that Moldova is Russia's most trusted partner in the international arena. A similar percentage was garnered by Kyrgystan and Turkmenistan. About 43 percent felt the same way about Belarus.

In addition, only two percent of the Russians polled trust acting Moldovan President Mihai Ghimpu. Mr. Ghimpu does as well as Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is only trusted by one percent of Russians. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is popular among 33 percent of Russians.

About five percent of Russians also think that Moldova is the most stable and successful Commonwealth of Independent States member. About 41 percent thought Belarus was the most successful.

The sample and the sampling error were not available in the news story, which can be read in more detail here.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: Moldova part of Obama Administration's human rights agenda for 21st century

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recently held a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. about the Obama Administration's human rights agenda for the 21st century.

In her remarks, the American official mentioned than Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine are part of this agenda:

"And when democratic change occurs, we cannot afford to become complacent. Instead, we have to continue reinforcing NGOs and the fledgling institutions of democracy. Young democracies like Liberia, East Timor, Moldova and Kosovo need our help to secure improvements in health, education and welfare. We must stay engaged to nurture democratic development in places like Ukraine and Georgia, which experienced democratic breakthroughs earlier this decade but have struggled to consolidate their democratic gains because of both internal and external factors."

The whole statement, including a video version, can be seen here.

Two leading Communist M.P.s to leave faction, say they want to form new left-wing party

Leading Communist M.P.s Vladimir Turcan and Victor Stepaniuc recently announced that they will leave their party's faction in Parliament in protest of the Party of Communists' (PC) decision to boycott the December 7 repeat presidential election.

The ruling Alliance for European Integration needed eight PC votes to elect Marian Lupu, its candidate.

The failure of the presidential elections means that early legislative elections will now need to be held. They will most likely take place toward the end of 2010.

Moldova has already had legislative elections on April 5 and on July 29 this year.

Mr. Turcan and Mr. Stepaniuc are visible figures in the PC, and their departure may signal an increasing rift within the former ruling party.

PC leader and former President (2001-2009), who was adamantly against voting for Mr. Lupu, has said his party will not be affected by the departure of some M.P.s


Monday, December 14, 2009

Sex trafficker detained at Chisinau airport

A 21-year-old woman from Balti was detained by Moldovan authorities at the Chisinau international airport today. She was organizing the transport of two young women to Istanbul (Turkey), where they were going to be introduced into a sex trafficking network.

Authorities said that the sex trafficker has been recruiting young women for about two years, most of them from northern Moldova (Balti is the largest city in the north). If found guilty, the young woman may spend up to 15 years in prison.


Independent newspaper reporters threatened after publishing corruption investigations

Ziarul de Garda, an independent newspaper known for its investigative reporting, released a press statement today, saying that its employees have received numerous threats after publishing a series of articles on alleged corruption at the Moldovan Railway Company.

One of the threats, according to Ziarul de Garda representatives, said something along the lines of "I'd be afraid to walk around without a gun."

It is unclear who has been making these threats, but the journalists have asked authorities to protect them and to investigate the corruption charges.

Communists: "Anti-Semitism and xenophobia are a direct result of the new regime's policies"

The opposition Party of Communists released a press statement today reacting to a group of fundamentalist Christian Orthodox believers taking down a Hanukkan Menorah.

The statement says that "anti-Semitism and xenophobia are a direct result of the new regime's policies." It goes on to argue that anti-Semitism is an initiative and an instrument of the Government, not an attitude of the tolerant and multinational people of Moldova. It is sufficient to mention that all of the actions that took place on December 13 in downtown Chisinau took place with the excessive tolerance of the representatives of the new regime and without the complete involvement of municipal police."

Justice Minister Alexandru Tanase replied that the former Government was actually the one that tolerated such actions and announced that the Justice Ministry could actually remove the organization that vandalized the menorah from the register of community organizations.

Anatolie Cibric, the organizer of the Christian Orthodox gathering, is currently being investigated. If he is found guilty of instigating to inter-ethnic and religious hatred, he may end up paying a 5,000-leu (about 500 dollars) fine or spend three years in prison.

Jewish community representatives in Moldova have said that they do not believe the event has any political connotations.


Feature on Moldova-born circus "hand-balancer" in American newspaper

An American newspaper in the state of Indiana recently published an article about a Moldova-born "hand-balancer" in a circus company.

An excerpt:
"In order to successfully conduct his hand-balancing act, he completes the following daily routine:

♦30 minutes of stretching every muscle group of his body

♦Two and a half hours of performing handstands.

♦Two acrobatic dances

♦30-40 push ups."

The full story is available here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dozens of fundamentalist Orthodox believers take down a Jewish menorah in downtown Chisinau, make anti-Semitic statements

About 100 fundamentalist Orthodox believers gathered in downtown Chisinau today to take down a Hanukkah Menorah installed by the Moldovan Jewish community in the country.

A priest spoke during the event today, making a series of anti-Semitic statements. He said that Jewish people are trying to "dominate people" and that Moldova is an Orthodox country. The priest added that "the Jews can try to kill us, to traumatize our children," but that Moldovan Orthodox believers will resist. He used a popular pejorative word "jidov" to talk about the Jewish community.

JurnalTV has footage of the menorah being taken down.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Moldova Noastra, a member of ruling coalition, holds party congress, some members walk out in protest

The Moldova Noastra [Our Moldova] Alliance (MNA) held its eighth party Congress today, during which members re-elected deputy Speaker Serafim Urechean as party president. Moldova Noastra is part of the ruling Alliance for European Integration.

The proceedings sparked controversy, as two leading MNA members - Veaceslav Untila and Iurie Colesnic - ran unsuccessfully against Mr. Urechean and then walked out in protest of the "lack of democracy" within the party today.

Mr. Untila said after walking out that he is not leaving the party, however. Mr. Colestic said that he wanted for the party leadership to be changed.

In two recent polls, MNA received less than the five percent needed to gain seats in the legislature. It won nearly 10 percent during the April 5 elections, and 7.35 percent on July 29. Analysts say that the party's popularity is dwindling, and there is some concern that the MNA may not cross the threshold during the early legislative elections, which will be held in 2010 or 2011 because of the recent failure of M.P.s to elect a President.


Ukraine to open to two polling stations in Moldova for its January 17 presidential elections, no stations to be opened in Transnistria

Ukrainian Ambassador to Moldova Sergei Pirojkov recently announced that Kiev will open two polling stations in Moldova on January 17, when Ukrainians will elect their President.

Mr. Pirojkov added that Ukraine would not open stations in Transnistria.

Ukraine's Central Electoral Commission says that about 70,000 Ukrainian citizens live in Moldova, most of them in the separatist republic. The ones who will want to vote will have to travel to Chisinau or to Balti (the largest city in the north of Moldova).

Recently, Romania opened 13 polling stations in Moldova during its own presidential elections. None of them were in Transnistria, however.

During the State Duma elections in Moscow two years ago, Russia opened 24 polling stations in Transnistria alone, despite protests from Moldovan officials. About 110,000 Russian citizens live in the breakaway republic.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Moldovan premier has meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, other European officials

Prime Minister Vlad Filat recently visited Bonn, Germany to attend the congress of the European People's Party, where he met Romanian President Traian Basescu, Polish premier Donald Tusk, Dutch P.M. Jan-Peter Balkenende, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The officials spoke about bilateral ties, and Mr. Filat thanked Ms. Merkel for supporting Moldova's democratic reforms and process of European integration.


Moscow unhappy with Romanian President's "unfriendly remarks about Russia"

Russian Foreign Affairs spokesman Andrei Nesterenko recently said that Moscow was unhappy with President Traian Basescu's recent "unfriendly remarks toward Russia" during the presidential electoral campaign in the neighboring country.

Moscow and Bucharest have often sparred over topics like the war in Iraq, which Mr. Basescu supported, and Moldova. Mr. Basescu is an outspoken believer in the notion that Moldova is a second Romanian state that should join the European Union as quickly as possible.

More details are available here.

Nicu Popescu: Germany’s new Ostpolitik (again)?

Nicu Popescu, a Moldova-born expert currently employed by the European Council on Foreign Relations in London, recently posted a blog entry on the website.

An excerpt:
"There might be an increasing sense that Ukraine, Moldova, and perhaps Belarus will “of course” join the EU. Though with two caveats: 1) in the long run (defined as 20-30 years), and 2) “this should happen at our own pace, not due to geopolitical considerations”. The language is still more positive than I ever heard in Germany."

The whole entry can be read here.

Belarus to open trading house in Gagauz autonomous region

Belarus officials recently announced that they will open a trading house in the Gagauz autonomous region. The Gagauz are a Christianized Turkic minority in Moldova's south.

A full story is available here.

The Economist: Romanian President Traian Basescu's interventions in Moldova have been "counterproductive"

The Economist recently published a feature on Romanian President Traian Basescu. It covers the recent election and Mr. Basescu's foreign policy approach.

An excerpt:
"On foreign policy, he has been a stalwart Atlanticist and strong critic of Russian mischief-making. But his interventions in neighbouring Moldova, an ex-Soviet republic that some see as a lost Romanian province, have been counterproductive. Mr Basescu backed the issuing of Romanian passports to Moldovans (just the sort of thing Russia does in its former empire). That brought him some 90 % of the votes cast there (a handy 8,000). But his near-irredentist stance dismays those who want to stabilise Moldova, not undermine it. Europe’s poorest country, Moldova faces another year of political limbo after its parliament yet again failed this week to elect a new president."

The whole article is available here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

American newspaper: Slavic immigrants, including ones from Moldova, are the most visible face of opposition to gay marriage in the state of Washington

Seattle Weekly, an American newspaper, recently published an interesting article on the Slavic immigrant community in the state of Washington and its opposition to gay marriage there. A few immigrants from Moldova are featured in the story, which can be read in full here.

Editorial and story on American branch of international women's organization fighting to end sexual trafficking in Moldova

Recently, two American papers published a story and an editorial about the plans of an American branch of an international women's organization to fight sexual trafficking in Moldova.

The editorial can be read here.

The story can be read here.

Moldovans sixth most popular post-Soviet group Russians want to marry, Georgians and Baltic states inhabitants not very popular mates

Moldovans are the sixth most popular post-Soviet group the Russians want to marry, according to official data cited by news agency

According to the news story, Georgians and inhabitants of the Baltic states are less popular mates, even less so than Germans, Turks, Israelis, Britons, Chinese, and Americans.

The full story can be read here.

22-year-old Moldovan woman wins Chinese beauty contest

On December 6, Ana Ropot, a 22-year-old Moldovan woman, won the Miss Fujian Tulou (Nanjing) Beauty Competition 2009 in China.

Ms. Ropot defeated runners-up from Kazakhstan and Russia.

The full story is available here.

Reuters: Romanian President Basescu "has offered passports to hundreds of thousands of Romanian speakers in Moldova," won 95 percent there

Reuters has a news story on the contested presidential election results in Romania. One of the major bones of contention between the Social Democratic Party and incumbent President Traian Basescu, who won the election by a very narrow margin, is the diaspora vote. The Social Democrats are claiming that Mr. Basescu stole the vote there.

Most Romanians living abroad voted for Mr. Basescu. In Moldova, the incumbent head of state won 95 percent of the votes cast.

The Reuters story mentions Moldova in the article, suggesting that Mr. Basescu's victory could in part be explained because he "has offered passports to hundreds of thousands of Romanian speakers."

The whole article can be read here.

RFE/RL: Top Moldovan Communist Quits Party, Hints At Others

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has a feature on the departure of leading Communist M.P. Vladimir Turcan from the Party.

An excerpt:

"Vladimir Turcanu told RFE/RL he has been frustrated with the Communist Party's policies for several months and tried unsuccessfully to convince party leaders to initiate reforms."

The full thing can be read here.

Europolitics: EU reports progress as ministers meet for first time

Europolitics, an online news portal, recently published an article on the Eastern Partnership, which held its first summit on December 8.

It quotes External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner as saying that she expects Moldova to start talks for an association agreement early next year.

The full story can be read here.

Major American TV station may pick up Russian "What? Where? When?" game show

Major American television network ABC has ordered a presentation of a version of a Russian game show called "What? Where? When?"

The show is very popular in the former Soviet Union as well, including in Moldova, which has often broadcast versions of the program on national television.

A fuller story on the subject can be read here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Russian President Medvedev worried about the status of Russian in Moldova

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev recently said during a press forum that he is worried about the status of Russian in Moldova.

"The space in which Russian is being spoken is increasingly smaller in the period of parliamentary elections," Mr. Medevedev noted, promising to provide support for Russian-language media outlets in other countries.


Prosecutor General: Supreme Security Council led by former Communist President used to file numerous petitions for secret criminal files

Prosecutor General Valeriu Zubco recently told Ziarul de Garda that he discovered that the Supreme Security Council headed by former Communist President Vladimir Voronin issued about 30 percent of the total number of petitions the institution received, all of them secretized.

Mr. Zubco suggested that this policy may have had political implications. The Communists were often accused of persecuting their political opponents, and the former Communist-appointed Prosecutor General was harshly criticized by the opposition for organizing these persecutions. The former opposition is now in power.

The General Prosecutor says these requests are being investigated.

Moldovan religious authority: Making December 25 a holiday is an "indirect attack" on the traditions of the Moldovan people

Balti and Falesti Bishop Marchel recently released a statement arguing that the Government's decision to make December 25 a holiday was an "indirect attack" on the centuries-long traditions of Moldovans.

Most Christian Orthodox believers in the country still use the Old Style Julian Calendar, according to which religious holidays are celebrated 13 days after the conventionally used modern Gregorian dates. For example, Old Style Christmas is celebrated on January 7.

The new Government recently made December 25 a holiday to allow the numerous religious believers - Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike - to celebrate New Style Christmas if they should so desire.


Poll: 40 percent of Moldovans want to live in the Soviet Union again

According to a poll released recently by the Institute for Public Policy and conducted by IMAS INC, 48 percent of Moldovans regret the fall of the Soviet Union and think it was a negative event in history.

About 40 percent have said that they would like for the Soviet Union to come back, while 32.2 percent said they did not.

The poll was conducted on a representative sample of 1,118 people from 75 localities (excluding the Transnistrian region, which Chisinau does not control). The margin of error is three percent.

Poll: 36.5 percent of Moldovans think human rights were observed better during the Soviet Union than today

According to a poll released by the Institute for Public Policy and conducted by IMAS INC, 36.5 percent of Moldovans think that human rights were respected better during the Soviet Union than now. About 24 percent think the situation is better after the fall of the USSR, while 14.6 percent think the situation has remained the same.

Similar viewpoints about the Soviet Union are visible in other areas, as well. A majority of Moldovans think that living conditions, housing, food, medical assistance, education, order, corruption, jobs, pensions, and human relations were better during the Soviet Union.

In contrast, 42 percent think the situation in terms of the access to information improved after the fall of the USSR. About 37 percent think it is now easier to travel, 44.6 percent think freedom of expression is better now, and 46.5 percent think the situation has improved in terms of the freedom of religion.

Feature on American Peace Corps volunteer in Moldova

Rotary International, an organization that, among many other things, funds foreign student exchange programs, recently published an article on an American Peace Corps volunteer who spent her time in Moldova.

The article is available here.

The Guardian: Moldova has the highest number of civil libel court cases in Europe

British newspaper The Guardian recently published an article on defamation laws, written on the occasion of some domestic reforms in the United Kingdom.

It has a paragraph on Moldova:

"European courts, for example, process far more civil defamation cases than any other region, with an average of 700 cases in each country annually. Moldova has the highest number of court cases in Europe, relative to the size of its population, and the highest amount of damages awarded was 80 times the per capita GDP for the country."

The whole thing is available here.

RFE/RL: EU's Eastern Partnership Stuck In Low Gear

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty recently published a feature on the Eastern Partnership. The article includes a paragraph about Moldova:

"Moldova is on EU financial life support, and the continued political instability in the country has so far prevented advances in association or free-trade talks. Visa-liberalization has been an important EU carrot in its dealings with Chisinau, but will not materialize in the short term.

The EU has also given 4 million euros for "democracy support" and provided expert support to the country's negotiations with the IMF."

The whole thing is available here.

Reuters: Moldovan Communists Show Cracks After Lupu Boycott

Reuters has a news story on the recent failure of the presidential election in Moldova.

An excerpt:
"Communists in parliament toed the party line on Lupu's election even though several of them had been ready to back him in the interests of ending a political stalemate in the country.

The country, which lies between Ukraine and European Union member Romania, has been gripped by uncertainty since the Communists won an election last April that was condemned as fraudulent by the liberal opposition."

The full story is available here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Chisinau mayor accused of fraud in Romanian presidential election

Chisinau mayor Dorin Chirtoaca has been accused by the Romanian Social Democratic Party (SDP) of fraud in the Romanian presidential elections.

The SPD sent a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Catalin Predoiu, asking him if he can guarantee that the elections organized abroad were free and fair.

Mr. Chirtoaca is accused of organizing the so-called "Bus Operation" in Moldova, which means he allegedly took people on buses to the polling station and suggested that they vote for Mr. Basescu.

Former Romanian Presidential candidate in 2004 and former Prime Minister (2000-2004) Adrian Nastase also suggested wrong-doing in Chisinau, saying on his blog that the Chisinau mayor was not subject to Romanian electoral rules and that potential fraud was much much difficult to identify there.

During the presidential elections on December 7, incumbent Traian Basescu received about 95 percent of the vote of nearly 13,000 Romanians living in Moldova who cast a ballot.

Mr. Basescu overwhelmingly won the total diaspora vote.

In a situation in which Romanians in the country were basically split in half in terms of their preferences for Traian Basescu or his Social Democratic opponent Mircea Geoana, a lot of Romanians have said that the diaspora vote put Mr. Basescu over the top.


Leading Romanian SocDem: Diaspora vote "should weigh less" in elections because Romanians living abroad "do not have direct contact with reality"

Leading Romanian Social Democrat Adrian Nastase, who was Prime Minister between 2000 and 2004, recently wrote on his blog that the Romanians "who left their country a few years ago, even if they read the press and are informed, have no direct contact with reality. They are not directly affected by rules and taxes, or even by a vision about the future - in health care, education, etc. As a result, their vote should weigh less. We need to debate this topic in the future."

The diaspora vote has become a bone of contention in Romania after Romanians living abroad voted overwhelmingly in favor of incumbent President Basescu. Mr. Basescu barely defeated Social Democrat Mircea Geoana.


"Anyone who can, should have babies": Government tries to convince Moldovans do their part in overcoming the demographic crisis

Labor, Social Protection, and Family Minister Valentina Buliga told the press today that "anyone who can, should have babies, because we have a demographic problem."

In order to convince Moldovans to do their part in overcoming the demographic crisis, the Government has increased the bonus mothers get at the birth of their first child to 1,700 lei (about 170 U.S. dollars). Mothers will get 2,000 lei for their second and third child.


Poll: Communists - 26%; Democrats - 14.4%; Liberal Democrats - 12.9%; Liberals - 8.2%

The Institute for Public Policy recently published its occasional Barometer of Public Opinion, which is conducted by IMAS.

According to the results, the political balance between the Communists and the anti-Communist parties remains roughly the same as in Parliament, although some groups in the Alliance seem to be growing stronger.

If elections were to be held next Sunday, the Party of Communists would win 26 percent of the vote, followed by the Democratic Party (14.1 percent); the Liberal Democratic Party (12.9 percent); and the Liberal Party (8.2 percent). The Moldova Noastra [Our Moldova] Alliance would only get 1.2 percent and would not manage to cross the five-percent threshold. The poll does not take into consideration the fact that the Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party (which wins 1.8 percent in the poll) recently merged. That could also boost the Democrats' popularity.

About 21.4 percent of the respondents said they did not know who they would vote for, 4.2 said they would not vote, and 7.5 percent did not provide an answer. There is, then, a considerable chunk of undecideds.

The Democrats seem to be doing better, in large part because of the popularity of their leader - Marian Lupu. Mr. Lupu was the Alliance's presidential candidate, but did not manage to win enough Communist votes to become head of state.

The Liberal Democrats seem to be doing better, as well, in part because Prime Minister Vlad Filat is head of the party and has become more visible as of late.

The Liberals are stagnating and Moldova Noastra seems to be in a decline.

In terms of popularity, Democratic head, Marian Lupu is in the top (19.8 percent); followed by Communist head Vladimir Voronin (16.6 percent); Prime Minister Vlad Filat (14.1 percent); and Chisinau mayor Dorin Chirtoaca (4.1 percent). Twenty percent of respondents said they did not trust anyone.

Considering the fact that Moldova will hold early legislative elections in late 2010 or in 2011, this poll suggests the balance of power between the Communists and the Alliance could remain the same. A lot can happen in a year, however.

Communist M.P. to leave faction, says he will form new non-Communist left-wing party

Communist M.P. Vladimir Turcan said today that he will be leaving the party's faction in Parliament and will go on to form a non-Communist left-wing party.

Mr. Turcan promised that he would be joined by a few of his Communist colleagues.

The main reason for his departure is the party's decision not to vote for a President on December 7, which will lead to the dismissal of Parliament and early legislative elections, most likely in 2010.

“I have signs from the entire country [Imedia: from his supporters], and I hope that until early elections, which will take place no earlier than the fall of next year, we will succeed," Mr. Turcan noted.

Communist M.P. Mark Tkaciuk was reluctant to comment on Mr. Turcan's statements, and said he expects him to talk to his faction about his plans.


Council of Europe officials: changes to Moldovan Constitution are essential

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) recently announced that Josette Durrieu (France, SOC) and Egidijus Vareikis (Lithuania, EPP/CD), who are co-rapporteurs of the organization for Moldova, said that changes to the Moldovan Constitution are essential.

An excerpt of the statement says:
"We have taken note of the results of the second round of the presidential election in Moldova, which took place today, and we note that the institutional deadlock continues. Clearly, in pursuance of the legislation in force, parliament must be dissolved and parliamentary elections held in 2010. In the meantime, the Speaker of Parliament carries out the duties of the President of the Republic. This is a temporary situation which must not endure."

The full text is available here.

UNICEF feature on institutional child care in Moldova

UNICEF's website has posted a story about a short film created by a 15-year-old Moldovan child about institutional child care.

The story also talks about the problems that many children encounter once their parents move abroad to work. By some counts, there are more than 500,000 Moldovans working outside of the country.

Deutsche Welle: No end in sight to Moldova's political stalemate

Deutsche Welle recently published an article about the failed presidential election in Moldova yesterday.

An excerpt:
"The political stalemate is therefore set to go on in the small former Soviet republic of 4.1 million, while much-needed reforms will remain on the shelf. Moldova, which lies between Ukraine and EU member Romania, has a reputation for widespread corruption, while monthly pay averages around 200 euros ($300)."

The full text can be read here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Film co-produced by Romania, Moldova, and Luxembourg wins special jury award at Estonian film festival

“Wedding in Basarabia” (Nunta in Basarabia) - a film about a recently married young man from Bucharest and a young woman from Chisinau who organize a wedding in order to get enough money from the guests to buy a house - was recently awarded the jury's special prize at the Black Nights International Festival in Tallinn (Estonia).

The movie was filmed exclusively in Chisinau between July 7 and July 30, 2008.

Several Romanian parties claim vote-counting irregularities during Romanian presidential election in Moldova

The National Liberal Party (PNL), the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), the Greater Romania Party (PRM), and the Green Party said there were numerous vote-counting irregularities abroad during the gathering of the results for the Romanian presidential election. The parties said that one of the countries in which problems appeared was Moldova.

Romanians in the diaspora voted overwhelmingly in favor of incumbent Traian Basescu, who received about 95 percent of the vote of Romanians living in Moldova.

Mr. Basescu was declared the winner of the poll with a very narrow margin, but the opposition Social Democrats are contesting the results of the election.

The accusations made by the four parties - which were not supporters of Mr. Basescu's - are being investigated.

Leading Communist M.P. may leave faction

Vladimir Turcan, a leading Communist M.P., told the press that he may leave the Communist faction after the party refused to vote for a head of state today.

Mr. Turcan noted that "early legislative elections will strengthen the ruling radical right-wing parties. Today's decision is a mistake, and it is not the first one this year. Until the end of the month, I will decide on whether I'm going to leave the faction or not. I do not think I will join another faction."

Another Communist M.P. - Vladimir Stepaniuc - also criticized the Communists' decision today.

It is unclear whether the Party of Communists will take any measures against these dissenters, and what Mr. Turcan and Mr. Stepaniuc will do in case they are sanctioned. There are rumors that they will either join the Democratic Party or that they will form another faction within Parliament.


Presidential election fails, Moldova to hold early legislative elections

The repeat presidential elections scheduled for December 7 were boycotted by the Party of Communists. As a result, Alliance candidate Marian Lupu only managed to garner 53 votes, eight short of the 61 he needed to get elected.

Moldova is therefore headed for early legislative elections. It is unclear when these will take place, but, according to the law, they will have to be organized after August 2010.

Alliance members and Communist representatives accused each other of causing this situation.

In very close Romanian presidential election, all eyes turn to diaspora votes

According to the Romanian Central Electoral Bureau, incumbent Traian Basescu is ahead of his Social Democratic rival Mircea Geoana by a slim 50.43 percent versus 49.57 percent, after more than 95 percent of the ballots have been counted.

Given the very close race, which may come down to just a few thousand votes, many have turned to looking at who Romanians living abroad picked.

A record high of nearly 150,000 Romanians in the diaspora voted, 12,000 of which reside in Moldova.

The last Romanian citizen voted on the West coast of the United States at 7 a.m. Bucharest time.

Generally speaking, Mr. Basescu is much more popular abroad than Mr. Geoana. He won 95 percent of the vote in Moldova and more than 85 percent in Ireland. He is expected to win by rather large margins in other parts of the world, as well.

The ballots that have been counted thus far do not include the totality of the vote abroad, which could bode well for Mr. Basescu. If he wins, the incumbent Romanian President may have very well been saved by the diaspora, given the fact that the Romanians inside the country split in virtually two equal parts in their support for the two contenders.


Record-high number of Romanian citizens in Moldova vote during presidential election, incumbent Traian Basescu wins overwhelmingly

An all-time high of 12,300 Romanian citizens in Moldova voted during the second round of the Romanian presidential election. Sources like Unimedia say that 94.8 percent of them voted with incumbent Traian Basescu.

It is still unclear, however, who won the election. Exit polls are contradictory, and the candidates have both claimed victory.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Three Moldovan illegal immigrants arrested at site of 2012 Olympics

More than 90 illegal immigrant workers were arrested in London by authorities in the United Kingdom after a raid on the site of the 2012 Olympics.

Three of them were Moldovans.

No other details about the fate of the Moldovan citizens is available yet.

Prime Minister Filat meets with Communist head to express "concern" over the possibility of the failure of the presidential election

Prime Minister Vlad Filat, head of the Liberal Democratic Party, met with Communist head and former President (2001-2009) Vladimir Voronin on Friday.

The two spoke about the presidential election on December 7. The Alliance, of which Mr. Filat is a member, needs eight Communist votes to elect Democratic Party head Marian Lupu, their presidential candidate.

Mr. Filat said that he expressed his concern to the Communist leader over the possibility of the failure of the presidential election, and noted that Mr. Voronin did not say "yes" or "no" to the election. The Communist head told Mr. Filat that his party's plenary, which will meet before December 7, would make the final decision about whether the opposition party will vote for Mr. Lupu or not.


Alliance presidential hopeful meets with Communist leader to convince him to vote for a head of state, says "no progress" was achieved

Marian Lupu, head of the Democratic Party and the Alliance's presidential candidate, met with Communist head and former President (2001-2009) Vladimir Voronin on Friday.

Mr. Lupu said that he brought up his 12-point offer to the Communists, in exchange for their vote, but that "no progress" had been registered.

Communist M.P. Mark Tkaciuk, a close ally of Mr. Voronin's, said the talks were "unproductive."

Mr. Tkaciuk added: "We will not vote" for Mr. Lupu because "to stabilize such a regime [Imedia: the Alliance's Government] is akin to putting out fire with gas."

The ruling Alliance has a slim majority of 53 votes. It needs eight Communist votes to elect Mr. Lupu. If those either votes aren't forthcoming, the legislature will be dismissed and new parliamentary elections will be held in August 2010 at the earliest.


Democratic Party, Social Democratic Party merge in move to consolidate center-left

The Democratic Party (DP), which is one of the four members of the ruling Alliance for European Integration, announced that it will be merging with the Social Democratic Party (SDP), a center-left party with no seats in the legislature.

This move may consolidate the center-left part of the Moldovan political spectrum, and representatives from the two parties said they sought to strengthen a single social democratic political group in the country.

The Democrats are headed by presidential hopeful and former Communist Marian Lupu.

The unification of the two parties seems to have caused some controversy within the Social Democratic Party, as SDP head Dumitru Braghis, a former Prime Minister, voted against it.

A majority of the SDP's political council voted to merge with the DP, however. It is unclear what role Mr. Braghis will play in the future of this new party. He is a well-known figure among Moldovans, and is essentially the face of the SDP.

This announcement comes a few days before the repeat presidential election on December 7. If the legislators fail to elect a head of state, early parliamentary elections will be called.

The SDP received 3.7 percent and 1.86 percent of the vote during the April 5 and the July 29 legislative elections this year, respectively. The Democrats won 12.54 percent in July and 2.97 percent in April. Many analysts said that the DP increased its score because Mr. Lupu joined it before the July elections.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Chisinau mayor in front row of incumbent Romanian President's supporters during debate

The Romanian presidential debate is ongoing at the moment.

The two candidates - incumbent Traian Basescu and Social Democrat Mircea Geoana - are facing each other. Behind each of them, there are dozens of leading politicians and intellectuals who are well-known supporters.

Chisinau mayor Dorin Chirtoaca is in the group of people behind Mr. Basescu. Mr. Chirtoaca is in the front row, two people away from Elena Basescu, the Romanian President's daughter, who is a European M.P.

Mr. Chirtoaca is an open supporter of Mr. Basescu's.

Many Romanian media outlets are broadcasting the debate live - has cameras that often show the supporters behind each candidate, and Mr. Chirtoaca can be seen there.

Former Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi attending international conference about the fall of Communist in Bucharest

Former President Petru Lucinschi (1996-2001) is in Bucharest, where he is attending an international conference on the fall of Communism.

The conference is called "1989: The Year that Changed the World. The Vision of the Protagonists of Change on the Future of Europe."

Intact Images has a very interesting picture of Mr. Lucinschi, who is seated between former Bulgarian President Jelio Jelev and former Romanian President Ion Iliescu.

Communist head: We are getting ready for early elections, will meet Mr. Lupu on Friday

Communist head and former President (2001-2009) Vladimir Voronin told the press today that his party is getting ready for early legislative elections.

Mr. Voronin added that Democratic Party head and presidential hopeful Marian Lupu's 12-point proposal to the Communists included "nothing to read."

The former President did note, however, that he would be meeting Mr. Lupu on Friday to talk about the election.

Mr. Voronin made his statements as some of his party members, like Vladimir Turcan and Victor Stepaniuc, said they are against early legislative elections, which will be organized if the December 7 presidential election fails.


Communist leader meets U.S. Ambassador to Moldova

Communist leader and former President (2001-2009) Vladimir Voronin met with U.S. Ambassador to Moldova Asif J. Chaudhry today.

The two spoke about "the political situation" in Moldova and about ways to overcome the current political crisis.

The ruling Alliance for European Integration needs eight Communist votes in order to elect its candidate Marian Lupu President. The election will be held on December 7. If the legislators fail to pick a head of state, Parliament will be dissolved and new legislative elections will be held in August 2010 at the earliest.


Communists sending mixed signals about participation in presidential election

The Party of Communists has been sending mixed signals about the election of the President on December 7. The ruling Alliance for European Integration has a slim majority of 53 seats in the legislature, and needs eight Communist votes to elect its candidate, Marian Lupu. If the presidential election fails again, Parliament may be dismissed and early legislative elections will be called in August 2010 at the earliest.

Communist M.P. Vladimir Turcan told Stirea Zilei that he could vote for Mr. Lupu because he is against early elections. Mr. Turcan was supported by Communist M.P. Victor Stepaniuc.

On the other hand, Communist M.P.s Vadim Misin and Igor Dodon said that there is no split within the party and that either all 48 M.P.s will vote for the President or none will.


Moldovan firefighters getting training in North Carolina

A local news station in North Carolina recently published a story about a group of Moldovan firefighters getting training in the U.S. state.

An excerpt:
"Members of the Moldovan National Fire Service spent the day with the Greenville Fire-Rescue Department learning about the agency’s equipment, infrastructure as well as the Urban Search and Rescue Team.

The visitors say they like the way fire department operates and the firefighters’ role in the community."

The full story is available here.

Features on Armenians living in Moldova

Two news stories were recently published about the situation of the Armenian minority in Moldova. They can be accessed here and here.

The most recent census (2004) does not point out the exact number of Armenians, but one of the news stories suggests the number is less than 20,000.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Man who tried to detonate grenade in front of Prosecutor's office gets 150-dollar fine

A man who threatened to detonate a grenade in front of the Prosecuror's Office in Chisinau on Thursday, October 15 because he said his son had been wrongfully accused received a 1,500-leu (150 U.S. dollars) fine today.

The man appeared in front of the Prosecutor's office the day after a grenade detonated in downtown Chisinau, injuring over 40 people. Authorities said there were no connections between the two cases. At the time, however, the event contributed to a very tense atmosphere in the capital.

A criminal investigation has been opened on the people who sold the man the grenade.