Monday, November 30, 2009

Serbs, Montenegrins, and Macedonians can now travel to EU's Schenghn zone visa-free

The European Union has announced that, as of today, citizens of Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia will no longer need a visa to travel to the Schengen zone in the EU. This does not include the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Albania, Bosnia, and Kosovo are thusly the only countries in the Western Balkans who still need a visa.

The new Moldovan Government has announced that one of its goals is to make the travel of Moldovans to the European Union easier, perhaps even reach a point when Moldovan citizens do not need a visa. In addition, Romanian incumbent President Traian Basescu has often asked for Moldova to be included in the Western Balkans European integration package. That is, however, unlikely.

Whatever the case may be, it looks like the number of countries in Europe that need visas to travel to the European Union is slowly decreasing. Moldova continues to be one of them.


Special forces being investigated for alleged wrongdoings during April protests

The Fulger [Lightning] special forces are being investigated for alleged wrongdoings during the April protests, General Prosecutor Valeriu Zubco said today.

“I am convinced that a lot of things will become clearer - with the Declaration of Independence [Imedia: which burned down during the mass disorder], with who hoisted the Romanian flags on the two state institutions [Imedia: Parliament and the Presidency], their devastation, and so on. Sooner or later, the truth will surface," Mr. Zubco noted.

After authorities announced that the Party of Communists won legislative elections on April 5, peaceful protesters came out into the street on April 6 and 7 to demonstrate against alleged election fraud. At one point on April 7, a group of violent protesters began throwing rocks at police officers in front of the Parliament and Presidency, eventually made their way into the buildings, and set a few floors on fire.

On the night of April 7, authorities started a mass repression campaign that ended in the arrest of about 700 people and the torture and beating of around 300 of them, according to a Soros Foundation report.

At least a few deaths have been tied to the repression, including that of Valeriu Boboc.


False bomb threat in Chisinau school, man arrested

A 38-year-old man called in a bomb threat on Monday morning, saying that the school which his daughter attended had an explosive in it.

The school was evacuated. Authorities established the threat was false.

The man said he wanted to "draw attention to himself," "to check how authorities work," and to make a "joke."

If found guilty, the person who called in the threat could be fined or imprisoned for three years.


Former OSCE head to Moldova: No quick fix for country's political crisis

Louis O'Neill, former head of the OSCE mission to Moldova (2006-2008) recently authored an article on the country's political crisis.

An excerpt:
"What is needed now is one last round of serious, responsible, mature, good-faith negotiations between the AIE and the Communists to elect a president under the existing system. Then, in an atmosphere of (relative) calm, Moldova's politicians, scholars, and advisers can undertake a comprehensive review of the constitution to create a better system for Moldova's people and its future leaders."

The full text is available here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Russian official: Russia says "Moldavia" instead of "Moldova" out of "historical habit," not "great-power chauvinism"

A joint session of the Belarus and Russian Justice Ministries decided on Thursday to ask Russian officials and media outlets to use "Republic of Belarus" instead of "Byelorussia."

Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov replied that Russians say "Byelorussia," "Moldavia," and "Kirgizia" instead of "Belarus," "Moldova," and "Kyrgyzstan" because of "historical habit" and not "great-power chauvinism."

The afore-mentioned three countries used to be part of the Soviet Union, and Russian-speakers often use the old names instead of the new ones.

The pronounciation of country and city names in the former U.S.S.R. is a political issue, since there are often native and Russian spellings. As a result, people who lean nationalist will often use the native names, while more pro-Russian groups will use the Russian names.

In Moldova, for example, Russian speakers will say "Kishinev" instead of "Chisinau," the Romanian version. The same applies to cities like Balti (Beltsy in Russian), Cahul (Cagul in Russian), and so on.

American newspaper: Entire country of Moldova planted with "crap grapes"

The Faster Times, an American online newspaper founded in 2009, recently posted a news story about "crap wines," which are made from low-quality grapes. The author argues that some of these grapes are unjustifiably disparaged since many of them "are original and pure and cost delightfully little."

The newspaper mentions Moldova in the article in this passage:
"With fancy Brunellos and Napa Chardonnays getting all the attention, it’s easy to forget that most of the world’s wines can justly be termed crap wines. Entire countries are planted with them (ever been to Moldova?)."

The entire article can be read here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Symbol of Moldova's Latin origins reinstalled in front of History Museum

A monument of a she-wolf feeding Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, has been placed in front of the History Museum after a similar statue was removed for repairs four years ago by the Communist authorities.

The old statue is still in the process of being repaired. The new one was donated to Moldova by a Romanian organization.

The monument is a very important symbol for many Moldovans who claim the Roman and, hence, Latin heritage of the majority population in the country. It is also normally considered to assert the common ethnicity of Romanians in Moldova and Romanians in Romania.

The Party of Communists has often been accused of refusing to put the statue back because it refuses to acknowledge that the majority population in Moldova is ethnically Romanian.

Instead, many Communists have emphasized a separate Moldovan identity and have often stressed the connections the majority ethnic group has had with Slavs throughout history.

The myth of Romulus and Remus has been described in Virgil's Aeneid, and Plutarch has written a biography of Romulus. It is a commonly known story among Moldovans.


Nicu Popescu on "Moldova's fragile pluralism"

Nicu Popescu, a Moldova-born expert at the London-based European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), recently published a blog entry on "Moldova's fragile pluralism."

It can be read here.

Presidential election set for Dec. 7, Democrat Marian Lupu only person running

During a meeting today, Parliament set the date of the repeat presidential election for December 7.

Democratic Party head Marian Lupu, who is the ruling Alliance's candidate, is the only person running.

Thus far, the Communists have said that they will not vote for Mr. Lupu.

The Alliance has a slim majority of 53 seats, eight short of the 61 it needs to elect its own head of state.

A few days ago, Mr. Lupu made 12 offers to the Party of Communists (PC) in exchange for their vote for President, but the PC seems unconvinced.


Communist M.P. Mark Tkaciuk: Former secret service head Valeriu Pasat is a "mother's misfortune"

Former secret service head Valeriu Pasat, who was arrested by the Communist authorities in 2005 and released in 2007, recently made some statements arguing that Communist head and former President (2001-2009) Vladimir Voronin tried to assassinate a former Moldovan political prisoner in the breakaway republic of Transnistria.

The Communists have thus far refrained from commenting on Mr. Pasat's accusations, but Communist M.P. Mark Tkaciuk, who is a close ally of Mr. Voronin's, called Mr. Pasat a "mother's misfortune" and said the Communists would not pay attention to the former secret service head.

The Australian: China and Moldova believers in garlic as guard against A(H1N1)

The Australian has a story on the increase in prices for garlic in China. It ends with:

"But last year China reduced its total garlic planting areas by 50 per cent, diminishing the overall supply and giving speculators a reason to assume future shortages.

The H1N1 virus, and the suggestion that garlic may offer some immunity from it, has also had an effect. Some believe that the suggestion may have been promoted by traders in Jinxiang.

Nevertheless, the theory has been adopted beyond China's borders: the Moldovan Army has added 0.5 ounces of garlic to soldiers' daily rations to protect them from the ravages of swine flu -- and make their food taste better."

The full story is available here.

Wall Street Journal: China seeks deals in Europe, Moldova is of "strategic" importance

The Wall Street Journal has a story about China's attempts to gain more financial influence in Europe.

Moldova comes up a few times in the article, particularly since China offered the country a one-billion-dollar loan.

The full story is available here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Story about Moldova and "defunct geo names" like Moldavia

Public Radio International has posted a story on defunct geographic names like Yugoslavia.

A passage in the article refers to the name "Moldavia," which has been replaced with Moldova.

The full article is available here.

European Commission allows Moldovan honey exports to E.U. to be resumed in 2010

The European Commission has ruled that Moldova can resume its honey exports to the European Union in 2010.

Previously, the exports were stopped because of quality concerns. This October, however, European Commission experts approved the quality of Moldovan honey, and the European Parliament is now going to decide whether Moldova will be included in the list of exporters.

Democrats make 12 proposals to Communists in exchange for election of president

The Democratic Party (DP), a member of the ruling Alliance for European Integration (AEI), announced a series of proposals today, which it hopes will convince the Party of Communists (PC) to vote for a head of state.

DP head Marian Lupu is the only person running for president. The AEI, which holds a slim majority of 53 seats in the legislature, needs eight Communist votes to elect Mr. Lupu.

The list of offers includes:

1. A law on parliamentary opposition, which would ensure equality between parties during legislative activities.

2. The opposition can appoint the head of the Accounts Court and of the Central Electoral Commission.

3. The ruling alliance will promote socially-oriented economic policies and will try to consolidate mechanisms of social protection.

4. Respect for Moldova's military neutrality status and other constitutional principles.

5. Reintegrating the country based on Moldova's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Identifying a durable and viable solution to the Transnistrian problem, which would include the participation and consultation of every political force represented in parliament.

6. Consolidating and optimizing mechanisms meant to provide rights to every ethnic group and the creation of conditions for their active participation in the public life of the country.

7. Consolidating local democracy and depoliticizing ties between the center and the periphery.

8. The end of politically-motivated persecutions of businesses that activate legally.

9. Reducing political influence on public media stations.

10. Depoliticizing the educational system and providing a balanced view of Moldovan history.

11. Promoting dialogue and political compromise, as well as fighting ideological intolerance.

12. Consolidating Moldova's statehood and fighting irredentism that could undermine the country's sovereignty.

PC M.P. Mark Tkaciuk said that he hasn't seen anything in the list that would convince his party to vote for Mr. Lupu.


Moldovan Foreign Affairs Minister: We cannot allow Russia to open a consulate in capital of separatist region

Moldovan Foreign Affairs Minister Iurie Leanca recently said that authorities cannot allow Russia to open a consulate in Tiraspol, the capital of the breakaway republic of Transnistria.

„My understanding is that there has been a request for opening a consulate in Tiraspol, but that is unfortunately not possible. As long as a territory is not controlled by the constitutional authorities in Chisinau, it is inadmissible to heed such a request," Mr. Leanca noted.

Transnistria has had de facto independence since 1992, after a short but bloody war with Chisinau. Russia has often shown support for the breakaway republic, and many people in the region have Russian passports. Some Russian parties also have branches there.


European Commission's External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy representative to visit Chisinau

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Commissioner responsible for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, will be in Chisinau between November 26 and 27.

Ms. Ferrero-Waldner will be meeting with a series of Moldovan officials and Western diplomats in Chisinau.

European officials have been paying increasing attention to events in Moldova, especially since the new pro-Western ruling Alliance for European Integration came to power.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Moscow Times: National Bank of Moldova "Switches to Western-Style Policies"

The Moscow Times has a story on the recent appointment of Dorin Dragutanu as Governor of the National Bank of Moldova. It begins:

"Moldova's central bank will pursue a Western European-style monetary policy based on an inflation target, underscoring the country's integration into the European mainstream, its new chairman said.

Moldova, a country of 4.5 million people where the average monthly pay is about $300, has seen a radical shift in political leadership from the communists to a Western-leaning coalition since a snap election in July."

A full story is available here.

Russian official: Moscow will have to study accusation that former President Voronin tried to sell weapons to Chechen rebels

Russia Today has posted a lengthy story about statements made recently by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Nesterenko.

Mr. Nesterenko was asked to comment on former Moldovan secret service head Valeriu Pasat's recent statements that former President and current Communist head Vladimir Voronin tried to sell weapons that would have ended up in the hands of Chechen rebels. An Imedia cover story on the subject is available here.

Here is his response:

"Q: Can the Foreign Ministry comment on the statement by the ex-Minister of Defense of Moldova on V.Voronin organizing arms shipments to Chechen militants?

A: I did not see this statement in detail. I just heard something about it. We will have to study these statements. Only after that we will be able to draw conclusions."

The full transcript of Mr. Nesterenko's statements is available at the link above.

Story on religious organization providing food for poor Moldovans: "Even in the morning, everyone is drunk, including the children"

Mission Network News, a news organization coordinated by Cornerstone University, an American private religious university in Michigan, recently posted a story on a religious group that is helping feed some poor Moldovan families.

It begins: "Moldova is one of Europe's poorest nations. With an 80 percent unemployment rate and workers getting paid in liquor, hopelessness and hunger abounds."

The unemployment rate is incorrect, although it isn't clear if the organization is talking about unemployment in some very poor villages or in the country in general.

Azerbaijan developing satellite as part of project for national space program, Moldovan companies reach "preliminary agreement" to use it

Azerbaijan is hoping to launch its first satellite by 2011. This project is part of a larger-scale plan to develop the Azeri national space program.

According to a news story posted by Eurasianet, Azeri officials have already said that they have reached "preliminary agreements" with companies in countries like Georgia and Moldova for the use of the satellite's capabilities.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Update, History of Romanians controversy: Russian official says Moldovans shouldn't focus on Stalinist repression, says Stalin "was a great hero"

Russian M.P. Maksim Miscenko recently attended a gathering organized by the League of Russian Youth, during which participants said they were against studying the History of Romanians (see the previous news story for details).

Timpul says that at one point, Mr. Miscenko said that "the Soviets built industry, roads, apartments, and so on" in Moldova and praised Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin as "a great hero" and "the most important manager of the 20th century."

Other atendees noted that tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union had a "civilizing role" in Moldova.

Although the number is unclear, the number of Moldovans deported during Stalin's rule is at least in the tens of thousands. Survivors of the deportation who managed to return to Moldova from places like Siberia hold a yearly memorial service in Chisinau.


League of Russian Youth: We don't want to study history of Romanians

Representatives of the League of Russian Youth (LRY) said during a press conference on Tuesday that they are completely against studying "the so-called history of Romanians" in schools because it ignores the role of ethnic minorities in the country's history.

See an Imedia back story on the controversy over the History of Romanians here. Currently, the subject taught in schools is simply called History.

Sergiu Mustata, head of the Association of Historians (AH), criticized the LRY, saying that "the Association of Historians is not against discussing problems regarding history, but we would like to talk to professional historians, including ones from Russia. We do not want to talk about history with engineers or with politicians."

The LRY recently hosted a debate about this topic, mostly attended by pro-Russian leaders like politician Valeri Klimenko; Russian Duma representative Alexei Liubtov; the head of an organization called The Young Guard; and a representative from the Russian Embassy. Mr. Klimenko recently organized a protest in front of the Russian Embassy in Chisinau, asking for Russian to be made a second state language in the country. Mr. Klimenko and the demonstrators also chanted "We Love You, Russia" during the protest.

An AH representative, Igor Casu, was also present. Mr. Casu said that during the debate, Russia asked "in an authoritarian manner" for Moldova to study a subject called the History of Moldova instead of the History of Romanians, and for the exclusion of topics like the deportation of Moldovans by the Soviets, as well as naming the Soviet Union an "occupier."

Some ruling Alliance representatives have said they would try to re-introduce the History of Romanians in schools after the Communists eliminated it from the curriculum.

Former secret service head: Communist head Voronin had plan to assasinate Ilie Ilascu, told me to gather compromising materials about party members

Former secret service head Valeriu Pasat recently held a press conference in which he launched a series of accusations against Communist head and former President (2001-2009) Vladimir Voronin.

Mr. Pasat said that he was arrested in March 2005 at the orders of Mr. Voronin and released in 2007 at Mr. Voronin's orders, as well.

Mr. Pasat argued that Mr. Voronin had at least three reasons to order his imprisonment and allegedly try to get rid of him while he was in jail.

First, right after Mr. Voronin came to power, Mr. Pasat allegedly refused to gather up information about Party of Communists members and give it to Mr. Voronin, who wanted to have it in order to blackmail his party members.

Second, because in the summer of 2001, Mr. Pasat stopped Mr. Voronin's attempt to sell weapons that would have ended up in the hands of Chechen rebels.

Third, Mr. Pasat avered that Mr. Voronin's family tried to buy the Cuciurgan electrical plant, which was later privatized by Russian company RAO ES, where Mr. Pasat ended up working.

Mr. Pasat also mentioned that Vladimir Voronin had a plan to assassinate former political prisoner Ilie Ilascu [Imedia: who was caught by Transnistrian authorities during the civil war in 1992 and let go years later] after staging an operation to save the other Moldovan political prisoners held by the separatists in the Hlinoaia prison.

Communist M.P. Vladimir Turcan confirmed to Stirea Zilei today that a file of information on him had begun to circulate in 2001, noting that everything it included was false. Mr. Turcan said he went to Mr. Voronin at the time and asked him why the file ended up on his desk. "Mr. Voronin didn't answer me. He just said that he didn't believe the materials were true," Mr. Turcan added.

Editorial about Moldova in a local paper in small U.S. town

The Corydon Democrat, a paper in the small Southern Indiana town of Corydon, recently hosted an editorial about the fall of the Berlin wall. A considerable part of it was dedicated to Moldova.

It can be read here.

22-year-old Moldovan K-1 fighter dies after sparring session

Vitali Mitu, a 22-year-old Moldovan K-1 fighter, collapsed and died last Thursday after a sparring session with K-1 champion Semmy Schilt in a Romanian gym.

A fuller story is available here.

Here is an excerpt:
“Mitu has suffered from acute interstitial pneumonia as well as a lung edema and acute bleeding,” Professor Dan Dermengiu, of INML “Mina Minovici,” the forensic institute of Bucharest, told Romanian sports site “Our examination has not shown any type of chest pains. Also there are no traumatic injuries that have been caused by a strike, but only some minor marks stemming from the resuscitation attempts.”

Increasing signs of power struggle emerge in Transnistria

A few days ago, on November 18, the Transnistrian legislature (called the Supreme Soviet) unanimously rejected an attempt by the separatist region's President Igor Smirnov to call a referendum for the creation of a new local Constitution.

The Constitution would have strengthened Mr. Smirnov's positions in the breakaway region by mentioning nothing about term-limits for heads of state and by creating a bicameral legislature whose upper house would in essence be controlled by the President.

Ultimately, the Supreme Soviet and Mr. Smirnov agreed to form a conciliation commission which will include representatives from the Transnistrian Parliament, Government, and Presidency. This commission will seek to perfect Mr. Smirnov's project.

Analysts have said that Transnistria is thusly becoming the site of increasing political conflict, which is an interesting phenomenon considering the fact that political life in the region thus far seems to have been dominated by Igor Smirnov.

Oazu Nantoi, for example, told Imedia that the recent conflict could signal the end of the Smirnov era in the separatist republic. [Imedia: a detailed interview with Mr. Nantoi is available in English via our subscription-only service].

Chisinau has not yet commented on the events in the breakaway region, which has had de facto independence since 1992, when it split off from Moldova after a short but bloody civil war.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev: E.U.'s Eastern Partnership is harmless, but pointless

RIA Novosti, a Russian news agency, recently posted a news story in which it quotes President Dmitri Medvedev as saying that the European Union's Eastern Partnership is harmless, but pointless.

Mr. Medevedev stated: "Needless to say, if they discuss anti-Russian scenarios, I as president will not like that. But I hope that our partners will refrain from this. Otherwise, let them discuss whatever they want."

The European Union started the Eastern Partnership program as an attempt to bring six non-E.U. members closer to European standards. These countries include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Moldovan authorities and analysts have occasionally expressed their disagreement with the country's inclusion in the group of six because Chisinau has sought a more privileged relationship with the E.U. that would involve a clearer schedule for integration. Those objections seem to have subsided, however.

Mr. Medvedev's statements also come at a time when the new Moldovan Government has been visibly more pro-Western than the previous Communist one, and as Russia has been mulling over whether it will give support to the new authorities or not.

Chisinau Wine Festival first contest of its kind in the CIS region to be granted the patronage of the International Organization of Vine and Wine

The International Chisinau Wine and Spirits Contest has been given the patronage of the International Organization of Vine and Wine (O.I.V.), according to a unanimous decision of the Executive Committee of 23 October 2009.

The festival is thusly the first one of its kind in the Commonwealth of Independent States to have been granted the honor.

Full story here.

Ancient Danube prehistoric artifacts discovered in Moldova on exhibit in New York City

The New York University's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World is currently hosting an exhibit entitled "The Lost World of Old Europe: The Danube valley, 5 000 – 3 500 BC," which includes a series of ancient Danube prehistoric artifacts discovered in Romania, Bulgaria, and Moldova.

The Moldovan artifacts were provided as a result of an agreement with local museums.

Full story here.

UNESCO report: Moldova has achieved gender parity in terms of the number of researchers

A recent report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says that "although the number of researchers working in developing countries over the last five years has increased by 50 per cent, women only occupy a very small percentage of these positions in some regions."

Along with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Serbia, Moldova is one of the few countries in Europe that have achieved gender parity in this regard.

Full story here.

Independent news website hacked into

Ziarul de Garda's website was hacked into on Sunday. The hacker posted an unauthorized picture on the site, along with aggressive messages.

Both the independent paper's archives and the main page have been reestablished.

Authorities are investigating the case.

Estonia-based think-tank: "Moscow continues interfering in Moldova's politics"

The International Center for Defense Studies, a Tallinn-based think-tank, recently published a report saying that Russia is still holding on to a notion of "near abroad" when it comes to the former Soviet republics, considering them a "zone of exclusive interest."

A fuller story is available here.

Romanian periodical: Moldovan celebrities vote in Romanian presidential poll

Financiarul has an interesting report about some Moldovan celebrities and leading politicians like Chisinau mayor Dorin Chirtoaca, who voted in the presidential election yesterday.

The full text is available here.

Incumbent Basescu sweeps up an overwhelming 90 percent of Moldovan vote

Unimedia writes that incumbent Traian Basescu won more than 90 percent of the ballots cast by Romanian citizens living in Moldova.

Just under 9,000 Romanians voted in Moldova, which constitutes one of the highest turnouts in the world and makes up for about 10 percent of the total diaspora vote.

Mr. Basescu is followed by National Liberal Crin Antonescu and Social Democrat Mircea Geoana, both of whom received under four percent.

UPDATE: Nearly 90,000 Romanians living abroad vote in presidential election, 8,700 of them reside in Moldova

NewsIn writes that according to data provided at 10 p.m. (Bucharest and Chisinau time), 88,500 Romanians living abroad voted in the Romanian presidential election. This is an all-time high, considering the fact that turnout during the presidential election in 2004 was 39,000. Voting will continue until 7 a.m., Bucharest and Chisinau time, because Romanians living in the U.S. are still voting.

Moldova had one of the highest turnout rates: 8,700 people voted there, which makes up about 10 percent of the total number of diaspora voters.

About 25,000 people voted in Italy and 20,000 voted in Spain.

Romania opened 13 polling stations in Moldova.

According to exit poll data, incumbent Traian Basescu and Social Democrat Mircea Geoana will go on to the second round.

No data on the preferences of Romanians living in Moldova is available yet.

75,000 Romanians living abroad vote by 8 p.m., Chisinau and Orhei polling stations register some of the highest turnout in the world

By 8 p.m. (Bucharest and Chisinau time), about 75,000 Romanians living abroad had voted in the presidential election and the referendum , according to the most recent data from the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Polling stations nr. 1, 2, and 4 in Chisinau, as well as the one in Orhei, have registered some of the highest turnout in the world.

According to the latest data available for Moldova specifically, by 6 p.m. more than 6,300 Romanian residents in Chisinau and other cities in the country had voted.

According to exit polls, incumbent Traian Basescu and Social Democrat Mircea Geoana were the top two vote-getters, and will head off in a second round in December.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

High turnout by Romanians living abroad registered in Moldova, Embassy could ask for an extension of the voting time beyond 9 p.m.

Unimedia writes that Romanians living in Moldova have come out to vote in very large numbers. About 5,000 people had voted by 5 p.m., which, according to HotNews, is twice the total turnout during the parliamentary elections in November 2008.

The Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry says that very high turnout abroad was also registered in Italy, Spain, Spain, Belgium, France, Hungary, the United Kingdom, and Austria. By 5 p.m., about 50,000 Romanians living abroad had voted.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry has also posted a series of pictures of Romanians voting abroad, including from Moldova. They can be accessed here.

About 12,000 Romanians had voted in Italy by 4 p.m., and about 9,200 Romanians had voted in Spain by 3 p.m.

Some exit poll data has already been leaked by Realitatea. Polls close at 9 p.m.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Moldovans with Romanian citizenship to vote in presidential election tomorrow

Moldovans with Romanian citizenship will be voting in the Romanian presidential election tomorrow. The main contenders, according to recent polls, are incumbent Traian Basescu, Social Democrat Mircea Geoana, and National Liberal Crin Antonescu.

If no candidate manages to get 50%+1 of the vote, a second round will be organized between the top two vote-getters.

It is unclear how many Moldovans hold Romanian citizenship, but the number is probably in the tens of thousands.

Imedia will be providing up-to-date information on how Moldovans voted.

Story about Scottish charity that will drive a truck of Christmas presents to Moldova

The Press and Journal, a Scottish newspaper, has a story on a local charity organization that will deliver Christmas presents to Moldovans and Romanians.

Last week, the organization delivered a truck of toiletries to orphanages in Moldova.

More details are available here.

U.S. Ambassador to Romania has family roots in Chisinau

U.S. Ambassador to Romania Mark Henry Gitenstein attended the inauguration of a kindergarten in the county of Constanta (Romania), which was rebuilt by U.S. soldiers at the Mihail Kogilniceanu military base in the area.

Mr. Gitenstein said during the inauguration that he had family roots in the cities of Braila (Romania) and Chisinau (the Moldovan capital).

Adevarul writes that Mr. Gitenstein said that his paternal grandparents were from Braila and Chisinau. [the link to the Adevarul story was broken, but a cached version is available if you Google "Mark Henry Gitenstein" and "Chisinau."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Moldovan P.M. meets Vladimir Putin

Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat met with his Russian countepart Vladimir Putin in Yalta (Ukraine) today.

The officials talked about the Transnistrian conflict, bilateral economic ties, and the 150-million-dollar loan the Kremlin promised to Chisinau.

Initially, the loan was worth 500 million dollars, but the sum was reduced after the new ruling Alliance for European Integration came to power.

Mr. Filat said that he expects "pragmatism" in Russian-Moldovan ties.

Mr. Putin added that the domestic political conflict in Moldova should not affect "simple people who want to live their lives."

More details will be available after Mr. Filat returns to Chisinau.


Man wearing anti-swine flu mask robs bank at gunpoint

The Riscani branch of Victoriabank, the largest bank in Moldova, was robbed at gunpoint today, writes Novosti-Moldova.

The Interior Ministry told the news agency that a man wearing an anti-swine flu mask walked into the bank at around 4 p.m., threatened to shoot the cashier, stole 13,037 lei (about 1,200 dollars), and then disappeared.

Bank employees notified the police only half an hour later.

Authorities are looking for the suspect.

Story about schools in Alabama helping Moldovan girls

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has posted a story about the medical help provided by a couple of schools in that state to a few Moldovan girls. The full story is available here.

Eighth person dies from swine flu complications in Moldova

Moldovan authorities have announced that an eighth person has died from A(H1N1) complications. The man, a Ukrainian citizen, was visiting his sister in Moldova.

Over 1,000 Moldovans have already been diagnosed with the swine flu. There are over 2,000 suspicious cases.


Story about Moldovan attempt to fight A(H1N1) with garlic and onions makes it into the New York Times, Washington Post, other media outlets

The story about Moldovan authorities giving garlic and onions to soldiers to ward off A(H1N1) has made it into a few major media outlets, and seems to be a rather popular story across the globe.

The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and others have written about this story.

Additional news stories are available here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Associated Press: Moldovan soldiers given onions to fight swine flu

The Associated Press has published a story in which it describes the various ways in which the country is trying to ward off A(H1N1).

It says: "Defense Ministry chief doctor Col. Sergiu Vasislita says about 0.9 ounces (25 grams) of onions and 0.5 ounces (15 grams) of garlic will be added to each soldier's daily diet. That roughly corresponds to a small onion and a couple of garlic cloves."

More details here.

World Health Organization: Moldova displaying "very high" clinical activity and "increased critical illness" in dealing with A(H1N1)

The European bureau of the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that Moldova has reported a "very high" intensity of clinical activity regarding the management of the A(H1N1) outbreak in the country between November 2 and 8, as well as "increased clinical illness."

If influenza-like illnesses are calculated in proportion to the population, Moldova registers a relatively high rate, placing in the first six or seven places in Europe.

Further details are available on

Communist symbols need to be banned: NGO headed by Democratic Party deputy president Oleg Serebrian

The European Movement, a non-governmental organization headed by Democratic Party (DP) deputy president Oleg Serebrian, held a press conference today, during which Mr. Serebrian asked for Communist symbols like the hammer and the sickle to be banned.

Another DP member, Igor Klipii, noted that a draft law stipulating such measures "needs to be initiated before early legislative elections, because it would be a crime if we allowed what happened in the last few months to go by unnoticed, and for the Party of Communists to have an electoral campaign in which it manipulates with the same dogmas and demagogic ideas that still, unfortunately, hold sway in Moldova."

Mr. Serebrian added: "remove the Communist hammer and the sickle and then try to show me where the Party of Communists is located in the electoral list. If they [Imedia: the Communists] cause new legislative elections, they need to take that responsibility."

The DP deputy head is suggesting that the Communists' popularity is considerably tied to the symbols they use, which many Moldovans nostalgic for the Soviet Union recognize and have an emotional attachment to.

Communist M.P. Grigore Petrenco said that the DP was thusly trying to "intimidate and blackmail" his party to vote for a head of state.

The ruling Alliance for European Integration has 53 seats in the 101-seat legislature, eight short of the 61 it needs to elect DP head Marian Lupu President. Those eight votes can only come from the Communists. The DP has, in the last few weeks, been trying to convince the Communists to vote for a President, but the former ruling party has refused. In fact, Communist head and former President (2001-2009) Vladimir Voronin decided to go on vacation a few days ago. He is currently in the Czech Republic with his wife.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Number of A(H1N1) infections crosses 1,000 mark

Authorities have announced that more than 1,000 Moldovans now have the A(H1N1) virus.

Seven people have died from complications.

More than 2,000 Moldovans have been suspected of having the virus until today. Close to 200 are currently being investigated.


Moldovan and Romanian politicians talk about Chisinau's European future during debate, some predict "a long and painful reform" in the country

A few Moldovan and Romanian politicians and experts met in Bucharest recently to discuss Chisinau's European future.

During the debate, former Romanian Foreign Affairs Minister Adrian Cioroianu said that "I foresee a long and painful reform in Chisnau. In the summer of 1989, Moldova was ahead of Ceausescu’s Romania in terms of democratization and transparency. Bucharest was being kept in the dark, while Chisinau had opened up a window towards the world. I believe that from that moment on, the situation started to worsen and the Republic of Moldova is today the story of a failure."

Other politicians speaking included Democratic Party M.P. Oleg Serebrian; Ion Bulei, head of the Bucharest Institute of Political Science and International Relations; and Dan Dungaciu, a leading Romanian expert on Moldovan affairs.

Their statements are available here.

Democratic Party head and presidential hopeful Marian Lupu to head to Russia, Brussels

Democratic Party head Marian Lupu, who is also the ruling Alliance for European Integration's presidential candidate, announced he would head for Sankt Petersburg on November 20 to attend a United Russia congress. Mr. Lupu's party is developing strong ties with the ruling party in Russia.

Mr. Lupu will then head to Brussels to meet with numerous European officials.

Some analysts have said that Mr. Lupu may be going to Russia for the second time in the last few weeks to garner the Kremlin's support for his presidential bid. Until recently, Moscow had close ties with the Party of Communists, but seems to have become more friendly toward Mr. Lupu and the Democrats. The Alliance needs eight Communist votes to be able to elect Mr. Lupu.


Moldova-born artist to present work during a Budapest exhibit about the Hungarian capital's foreign art community

Alexander Tinei, a Causeni-born Moldovan, will be presenting some of his work within the Revolutionary Decadence exhibit, hosted by Budapest's Kiscelli Museum.

The exhibit highlights the foreign art community in the Hungarian capital.

More details about the nature of the exhibit are available here.

Moldova to attend Danube summit in February 2010

Moldova will be attending the "Danube Summit" in February 2010. The Summit is a E.U.-financed project intended to facilitate cooperation between Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Ukraine, and Moldova.

Full story here.

EBRD to lend 15 million Euros to Moldovan bank, money will go toward bank's small and medium enterprise funding portfolio

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has decided to offer C. B. Moldindconbank (MICB) 15 million Euros to help it develop its portfolio of loans for small and medium enterprises.

A more detailed story is available here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fund for victims of April repression donates apartment to family of young man who was killed during the repression campaign

The April 7 Fund, coordinated by the Liberal Democratic Party, donated an apartment to the family of Valeriu Boboc today. Mr. Boboc died as a result of bodily harm inflicted on him around the night of April 7-8.

After authorities announced that the Party of Communists won legislative elections on April 5, peaceful protesters came out into the street on April 6 and 7 to demonstrate against alleged election fraud. At one point on April 7, a group of violent protesters began throwing rocks at police officers in front of the Parliament and Presidency, eventually made their way into the buildings, and set a few floors on fire.

On the night of April 7, authorities started a mass repression campaign that ended in the arrest of about 700 people and the torture and beating of around 300 of them, according to a Soros Foundation report.

Valeriu Boboc's death was tied to the police repression on that night, although it is still unclear who killed him. Authorities initially denied that Mr. Boboc had died because of violent beatings, but pictures of the dead body reveal a large hole in his head. One of these pictures made their way onto the front page of a major Romanian daily (caution: the picture is rather shocking).

Valeriu Boboc's wife and father thanked Prime Minister Vlad Filat, who is Liberal Democratic Party head and was the one who handed the keys to the apartment over to Ms. Boboc.

"I hope that my son's death will also mean the death of Communism in Moldova," said Valeriu's father Victor, who urged Mr. Filat to find those responsible for his son's killing.

Valeriu Boboc had a wife and a young child.


Duty free company to open up numerous stores at the Moldovan border, hopes the country "will one day become a major market for luxury goods"

Le Bridge Travel Retail, a duty free company, will open up a number of duty free stores at the Moldovan border and in the Chisinau airport, the country's major international hub.

Le Bridge representative Franck Arif said that "I believe Moldova will one day become a major market for luxury goods. It lies at a crossroads of 100 million people in Europe."

Full story here.

Poland to offer Moldova 15-million-dollar loan for budget deficit and infrastructure investments

Global Insight announces that during a November 16 meeting with Speaker and interim President Mihai Ghimpu, Polish Ambassador to Chisinau Krzysztof Suprowicz said that Warsaw would offer Moldova a 15-million-dollar loan for the country's budget deficit and for infrastructure projects.

Poland also donated a batch of computers to the Moldovan legislature.

Mr. Suprowicz added that his country would like to offer more assistance to Chisinau to encourage it on the path of reforms that would materialize in stronger ties with the European Union.

Previously, Germany announced that it would provide Moldova with considerable financial assistance. Romania has also promised to help. The IMF has agreed to offer Moldova a 590-million-dollar loan, while the U.S. will provide 262 million dollars within the Millenium Challenge Corporation project.

When the Communists were in power, the Kremlin promised to give Moldova a 500-million-dollar loan, but the sum has been recently reduced to 150 million dollars. The new ruling Alliance for European Integration has expressed its interest in pursuing this loan nonetheless. China has also said it would be willing to provide a one-billion-dollar loan to Chisinau.

Moldova has been affected considerably by the economic and financial crisis, and the economy could contract by 8-9 percent this year.

New border agreement with Romania allows one third of Moldovans to travel to parts of neighboring country without a visa

About 1.2 million Moldovans, which makes up for about one third of the population (without counting Transnistria), will be able to travel to certain parts of Romania after Prime Minister Vlad Filat and his Romanian counterpart Emil Boc signed a small-scale border trade and population flow border agreement on November 13, 2009.

The agreement will become effective 30 days after the two countries finalize their domestic procedural requirements for ratification. Mr. Filat expressed his hope that this would happen before the end of 2009.

Romanian oil and gas company to invest 15 million Euros in Moldova

Petrom, a big Romanian oil and gas company, said during a recent press conference that it would invest 15 million Euros in Moldova in the next five years.

The press conference was attended by Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat, who asked Romanian businesses to invest more in Moldova.

A more detailed report on the topic is available here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Romania to open up a third consulate in Moldova

Prime Minister Vlad Filat said today that Romania would open up a third consulate in Moldova, in the border city of Ungheni. Recently, Chisinau allowed Bucharest to open up two consulates in Cahul (in the south) and Balti (in the north).

Until the ruling Alliance for European Integration came to power, Bucharest had only one consulate, in Chisinau, because Communist authorities refused to allow the opening up of additional ones. As a result, the Chisinau consulate became rather notorious for its long lines.

The three consulates will now allow Moldovans who do not live in Chisinau to make shorter trips to the closer location instead of taking an often expensive and long trip to the capital.

Moldovans need visas to visit Romania. The only exception to this rule is a recently signed bilateral agreement between the two countries allowing Moldovan residents living close to the Romanian border to visit the neighboring country (within 50 kilometers) with a simple permit.


EUObserver commentary: the EU needs a success story in Moldova, Georgia, or Ukraine, a Brussels-based online news portal, posted a commentary today about the European Union's policy in Ukraine and its neighboring country.

Elena Gnedina, the author of the article, says that "unless the EU presents a success story, be it in Moldova, Georgia or Ukraine, it may find even fewer believers in European ideas a few years down the road in the post-Soviet space."

Full text here.

Moldova attending first Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Moldova will be attending the first Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum in Brussels between November 16 and 17.

The event is organized by the European Commission, the European Union presidency, and the European Economic and Social Committee. Its purpose is to encourage stronger ties between the civil society, the members of the Eastern Partnership, and EU members, as well as talk about various social, political, and economic reforms.

The Eastern Partnership is an EU project intended to develop stronger ties and encourage European-style reforms in six countries - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

Twenty Moldovan organizations are supposed to be in attendance, but the list of participants seems not to have been made public.

Germany to offer Moldova 8.5 million Euros

Representatives from the Moldovan and the German Government met in Chisinau today to sign an agreement granting Moldova a financial assistance package worth 8.5 million Euros.

Five million of the sum will go toward the country's Social Investment Fund. The rest will be used for various modernization projects, like improving the state of Moldovan agriculture.

Germany has thus far offered 40 million Euros to Moldova.


General Prosecutor's office drops Communist accusation that Chisinau mayor tried to stage a coup d'etat

The General Prosecutor's office announced in a press release today that Chisinau mayor Dorin Chirtoaca is no longer investigated for attempting to stage a coup d'etat and for causing mass disorders.

Mr. Chirtoaca had been charged with these crimes by the former Communist Government, which said that the Chisinau mayor, along with other anti-Communist politicians and Romania, were behind the mass unrest on April 7 that ended with the vandalization of the Parliament and Presidential buildings.

The General Prosecutor said that it has no evidence to prove Mr. Chirtoaca's guilt.


Communist leader goes on vacation

Stirea Zilei writes that Communist head and former President (2001-2009) Vladimir Voronin has gone on vacation. Mr. Voronin and his wife apparently left for Karlovy Vary (the Czech Republic) this morning, his favorite vacationing spot.

This may not be a good sign for the negotiations surrounding the election of a head of state since the Communist head will not be in Chisinau to meet with Alliance leaders.

Mr. Voronin has stressed that his party will not vote for Marian Lupu for President. Mr. Lupu is the ruling Alliance for European Integration's candidate and needs eight Communist votes to add to the 53 the coalition has to win.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Close to 800 Moldovans diagnosed with A(H1N1), seven dead from swine flu-related complications

According to Moldovan officials, about 785 people in the country have been diagnosed with the A(H1N1) virus. Six have died from swine flu-related complications.


Story on Moldovan teen who received reconstructive surgery in the U.S.

The Daily Reflector, a local newspaper from Greenville, North Carolina (NC) recently posted a news story about a young woman who was brought to NC by a non-profit organization for reconstructive plastic surgery after she burned her fingers and her face.

The full story is available here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Moldova and Romania sign border trade and population flow agreement

Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat and his Romanian counterpart Emil Boc signed a small-scale border trade and population flow agreement today.

The agreement allows Moldovans living around the Romanian border to travel to within 50 kilometers on Romanian territory without a visa. Moldovans currently need visas to visit the neighboring country.

The move indicates an improvement of ties between the two countries after the Communists often had very tense relations with Romania during their time in office (2001-2009).


Reuters story title: "Moldova's Voronin took hens, cow, horse, says leader"

Reuters India has a cover story about the recent conflict surrounding the Presidential residence in Condrita. It begins:

"Moldova is in a flap over accusations by its new pro-West leaders that communist ex-President Vladimir Voronin took hens, turkeys and even a cow with its calf from an official residence when he stepped down."

Full story here.

Democratic Party official: The Communists are "dragons"

Democratic Party honorary head Dumitru Diacov replied to statements made by Communist head Vladimir Voronin yesterday, in which the former President called Mr. Lupu and Mr. Diacov "underage calves" and "crocodiles."

Mr. Diacov said that if the Democrats and the Liberals were crocodiles and snakes, as Mr. Voronin said they were, then the Communist leader is "a dragon."

This exchange seems to be signaling the fact that the Communists will most likely not vote for Mr. Lupu for President, which makes early legislative elections a distinct possibility.


Romanian President signs new law making it easier for Moldovans to get Romanian citizenship

Romanian President Traian Basescu recently signed a new law making it easier for any former Romanian citizen who lost his or her citizenship against his or her will to recover it.

"For example, after Moldova was torn from Romania [Imedia: after World War II], the Romanians on Moldovan territory lost their citizenship. Those who are still alive, and their progeny up to the third generation, can simply ask for Romanian citizenship. We don't need any a lot documents to give it to them," Mr. Basescu said.

The law says that Romanian authorities have to grant citizenship within five months of a request.


Feature on the Moldovan Jewish community

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) recently published a news story about the help it provides to about 170,000 elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union, which it says are among the poorest Jews in the world.

A considerable part of the story deals with a Irina, an elderly Jewish woman who lives in Moldova.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Famous British author and Oxford professor T.G. Ash: Moldova needs to be part of the E.U.

Famous British author and Oxford professor Timothy Garton Ash recently published an editorial in The Globe and Mail, in which he talked about the future of the European Union.

Mr. Ash noted that "increasingly, the key challenges for the EU lie not within its own borders but beyond them. Geographically, the agenda starts with the rest of Europe that is not yet in the EU. Enlargement fatigue is palpable at every turn, but there is still a lot of Europe to be brought in, before “Europe” is really Europe: the rest of the Balkans, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, perhaps Georgia and Armenia, and, as a strategically vital special case, Turkey. Provided they meet all the conditions for membership, we should want these countries to be EU members, in our own long-term enlightened self-interest, as well as in theirs."

Full text here.

Communist head and former President: Lupu and Diacov are like "underage calves," Speaker Ghimpu "had three surgeries on his head"

Communist head and former President (2001-2009) Vladimir Voronin held a press conference today, during which he talked about the political situation in the country. Mr. Voronin has become rather notorious for his outrageous statements during such press conferences. In the past, the former President has said that he would like to stick a rat down Chisinau mayor Dorin Chirtoaca's pants.

After talking about his negotiations with Democratic Party (DP) head Marian Lupu and DP honorary head Dumitru Diacov about the election of the President, Mr. Voronin lashed out and said that Mr. Lupu and Mr. Diacov were being "lied to like a couple of underage calves" because they did not want to form an alliance with the Party of Communists. Mr. Voronin used the Russian word for "underage" in this instance.

Mr. Voronin also noted that the Moldovan people did not vote for the Party of Communists so that "a person with three surgeries on his head" could be appointed Speaker and interim President. Mr. Voronin was referring to Liberal Party head Mihai Ghimpu.


Communist leader and former President: Reporter "needs to punch judge in the head"

Communist head and former President (2001-2009) Vladimir Voronin held a press conference today during which he talked about the political situation in the country.

Mr. Voronin reinforced the fact that his party would not vote for an Alliance presidential candidate. The coalition needs eight votes from the Communists to elect Democratic Party head Marian Lupu, its own candidate.

At one point in the press conference, Mr. Voronin mentioned the case of the Omega news agency reporter who was allegedly assaulted by a Liberal Democratic Party supporter. Omega has been described by independent press monitoring agencies and analysts as pro-Communist.

Mr. Voronin said he could not believe that the judge let the Liberal Democrat go for lack of evidence. "The reporter should go and punch that judge in the head, maybe then she'll have evidence," Mr. Voronin suggested.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Update: The Eastern Europeans, including a Moldovan, charged with credit card fraud, could face up to 50 years in a federal U.S. prison

The Eastern Europeans, including one Moldovan, who were indicted on a charge of stealing over nine million U.S. dollars from a credit card processing company could face up to 50 years in a federal prison.

For an Imedia background story on the topic, see here.

Moldova confirms Eurovision participation in 2010

Moldova has confirmed that it will participate in the Eurovision song contest in 2010.

The country took 14th place last year, when Nelly Ciobanu sang "Hora din Moldova." A "hora" is a traditional Romanian dance. Variations of the dance are also present in places like Bulgaria.

Eurovision is a very important affair in Moldova and a lot of other countries, and it can often take on a political nature.

A Georgian song thought to criticize Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was banned by Eurovision in 2009.

In addition, Azeri authorities interrogated at least one person in Baku after he voted for Armenia in the 2009 final.

Bucharest appoints two more consuls for Moldova

Bucharest has appointed Gentiana Serbu as Romania's consul in Cahul (a city in Southern Moldova) and Dumitru-Nicanor Teculescu as Romania's consul in Balti (a city in Northern Moldova).

Previously, Moldovan and Romanian authorities signed an agreement about the opening of two more consulates in Moldova. A Romanian Government spokesperson said that the consulates would open in January 2010 at the latest.

The only consulate office thus far - the one in Chisinau - has become rather notorious for its long lines.

Authorities hope that the addition of the two new centers, where Moldovans will be able to get visas for Romania, will reduce lines and help non-Chisinau residents reduce travel costs since they had to travel to the capital in the past.

The Communist authorities refused to allow Bucharest to open the consulates and have often had tense relationships with the neighboring country. The new ruling Alliance for European Integration has said it intends to mend ties with Romania.


Headquarters of small pro-Western party vandalized

The Actiunea Europeana [European Action] Movement (AEM), a small pro-Western party that did not gain any seats in the legislature on July 29, announced that unidentified people vandalized its headquarters on the night of November 9-10.

The attackers stole the organization's flags that are normally displayed at the entrance (the party's flag and an EU flag) and destroyed the flag stands.

AEM said it was concerned with "extremist attacks on democratic parties, which seem to have become more frequent lately."

The Movement organized an anti-Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) rally during the CIS summit recently held in Chisinau. Its leader, Anatol Petrencu, is a famous Moldovan historian.


U.S. indicts eight hackers, including one Moldovan, for nine-million-dollar credit card fraud

A grand jury from Atlanta, Georgia (the United States) has indicted eight individuals for stealing more than nine million dollars after hacking into a network used by RBS WorldPay, a credit card processing company.

One of the hackers is from Moldova. His name is Oleg Covelin, 28.

The U.S. Justice Department identified the other suspects as being from Estonia and Russia. One hacker's nationality was not specified.

Other details are available here and here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Presidential election fails, Communists refuse to vote

The presidential election failed to yield a winner today after Democratic Party head Marian Lupu, the ruling Alliance for European Integration's candidate, only managed to garner 53 votes, the total number of seats held by the majority coalition, which is eight short of the 61 he needed to be voted in. The Party of Communists holds the other 48 seats.

Communist M.P. Maria Postoico said her party refused to vote because Mr. Lupu's victory would install "a right-wing anti-social and anti-European dictatorship." The Communist M.P.s then left the building.

New elections will be held within 30 days. If Parliament fails to elect a head of state, legislative elections will be set for 2010.


Romanian presidential candidates running ads on Moldovan news site to reach out to Romanian citizens living in the country

Romanian presidential candidate Mircea Geoana (put forth by the Social Democratic Party and the Conservative Party) is now running ads on Unimedia, a Moldovan news website that gets a lot of traffic.

Incumbent Traian Basescu will soon follow with ads of his own, Unimedia writes.

Moldova has a lot of residents holding Romanian citizenship (often along with Moldovan citizenship). The numbers are unclear, but they are at least in the tens of thousands.

Mr. Basescu and the Democratic Liberal Party (which is often labeled as pro-presidential) are very popular in Moldova. During the last elections for the European Parliament, the Democratic Liberal Party won a majority of the vote. Mr. Basescu's daughter Elena, who ran as an independent but later joined the Democratic Liberals, won about 25%. As a result, Mr. Basescu's party gained about 80 percent of the Moldovan vote. In Romania, the Democratic Liberals gained about 35 percent.

More than 300 Moldovans now have A(H1N1)

The Health Ministry has confirmed that, as of Monday, more than 300 Moldovans have been diagnosed with the A(H1N1) virus. The number of cases has skyrocketed in the last few days, considering the fact that last week authorities were talking about a couple of dozen people with the swine flu virus.

Every educational institution and college dormitory has also been shut down and quarantined as a result of infection fears. School break has been extended by another

Monday, November 9, 2009

Communists hold meeting, decide not to vote for the Alliance's presidential candidate

The opposition Party of Communists held a meeting today, during which it decided to tell its faction in Parliament not to vote for the ruling Alliance for European Integration's presidential candidate. Communist officials refused to give any more details, and promised to provide more information tomorrow.

The ruling Alliance has a slim majority of 53 seats in the legislature, eight short of the 61 votes it needs to vote in Marian Lupu, its presidential candidate. Those eight votes can only come from the Party of Communists.


Former Romanian President Iliescu: Romania has promoted a "hesitant policy" toward Moldova in the last two decades

Former Romanian President Ion Iliescu was recently quoted by Cotidianul as saying that, in the last two decades, Romania has promoted a "hesitant policy" toward the Republic of Moldova.

Mr. Iliescu made the statement in the context of an analysis of Romania's achievements after the fall of Communism. Mr. Iliescu placed Bucharest's ties with Chisinau in the category of failures.

European People's Party Head Wilfried Martens: Democracy is still fragile in Moldova

Wilfried Martens, head of the European People’s Party (EPP) and Belgian Prime Minister during the anti-Communist revolutions of 1989, made a statement today about the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Mr. Martens mentioned that "with this anniversary we must also remember that in Europe there is still work to be done: Belarus hosts the last dictatorship of Europe; democracy is still fragile in Ukraine and Moldova; there are still many unresolved problems in the Western Balkans."

Full statement here.

New checkpoint opens at Moldovan-Ukrainian border

A new checkpoint - Rozalivka - has been opened at the Moldovan-Ukrainian border. Ukrainian authorities have said that the checkpoint is up to European standards and allows night surveillance of the movement of people and automobiles within about a dozen kilometers.

Full story here.

The checkpoint opens as Moldovan authorities have cut border traffic with Ukraine after A(H1N1) fears. The neighboring country has registered a lot of swine flu cases and fatalities.

National Committee for the Prevention of Human Trafficking holds meeting

The National Committee for the Prevention of Human Trafficking met today. Prime Minister Vlad Filat, who presided it, said that the prevention of human trafficking is a priority for the new Government. Mr. Filat also stressed that he would like for prevention strategies to be implemented efficiently.

Reports presented by various officials during the meeting show that, in the first ten months of 2009, authorities registered 452 criminal acts related to human trafficking, including 172 cases of trafficking of adults; 36 cases of trafficking of children; 18 cases of the illegal removal of children from the country; 130 cases of prostitution; and 96 cases of the organization of illegal migration.

Moldova is often mentioned in international reports as an important source of human trafficking. The victims tend to be poor and uninformed. Many of them come from Moldovan villages.


Gas pipeline transiting Russian gas to Europe explodes, deliveries not affected

A gas pipeline that carries Russian gas to Europe exploded in Moldova on Sunday.

Gas deliveries to Europe were unaffected. However, many villages in the raion of Stefan Voda and Causeni no longer have gas.

It is unclear what caused the blast.

Authorities have promised to resume deliveries within 72 hours.

Prime Minister Vlad Filat was at the site of the explosion earlier in the day.

Unimedia has a few pictures from the location.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

BBC feature on Hungarians deported to Moldova by the USSR during WWII

The BBC posted a feature today about scores of Hungarians deported to Moldova by the Soviet Union in 1944.

The Soviets deported about 600,000 Hungarians to labor camps after World War II. About 200,000 died in Soviet captivity.

The story says that "most of the Hungarians from Nyiregyhaza [Imedia: a Hungarian town] ended up in a work camp in Baltsi [Imedia: the largest city in Northern Moldova today], those who survived the journey. And there most of them died - of malnutrition, over-work or disease."

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Former Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski: E.U. must treat Ukraine and Moldova as places of "special importance"

Former Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski (1995-2005) recently wrote an editorial for Project Syndicate, in which he said that "Eastern Europe, especially Ukraine and Moldova, [...] must be treated as a region of special importance."

Mr. Kwaśniewski adds that "it is unrealistic of the EU to expect European outcomes from countries like Ukraine and Moldova without making a full commitment to them."

The full text of the editorial is available here.

The page also includes a link to an MP3 podcast of this editorial.

Alliance candidate is the only person running for President, Communists refuse to nominate someone

Democratic Party head Marian Lupu is the only candidate running for President on November 10. Ion Plesca, head of the Committee for the Presidential Election, told Stirea Zilei that Mr. Lupu is the only person who registered by the deadline.

Mr. Lupu is the ruling Alliance for European Integration's candidate. The opposition Party of Communists has said it refuses to nominate anyone or vote for Mr. Lupu.

Parliament recently changed the law on the presidential election, allowing the vote to be validated even if only one candidate runs for office.

The Alliance has a slim majority of 53 seats in the Parliament, which is eight short of the 61 votes it needs to elect Mr. Lupu. Those votes can only come from the Communists, who have been rather adamant about their refusal to vote.

If Parliament fails to elect a head of state, early elections will be called in 2010.

A recent poll suggests that the four parties making up the Alliance could get a majority again.

A(H1N1) infections skyrocket to over 200 in the last two days

JurnalTV writes that the number of A(H1N1) infections has gone up to over 200, after that number was at about 40 a few days ago. The number of people suspected of having the virus is over 400.

In a related news story, deputy Health Minister Oleg Lozan told Jurnal that authorities have registered a third A(H1N1)-related death.

The Moldovan anti-corruption agency is also investigating pharmacies after complaints of exagerrated prices for anti-flu-masks and anti-viral medicine.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Parliament appoints new National Bank of Moldova Governor

The ruling Alliance for European Integration (AEI), which has a majority in Parliament, voted to appoint Dorin Dragutanu as head of the National Bank of Moldova (NBM) today.

The Party of Communists (PC) harshly criticized the nomination and refused to vote. At one point, Communist M.P. Anatolie Zagorodnii accused Mr. Dragutanu of having "ties and contacts" with the Romanian secret services. Mr. Dragutanu denied the allegations.

Dorin Dragutanu is a Romanian-educated auditor who has worked with PricewaterHouseCoopers Moldova since 1998. He has been one of the company's representatives in Serbia since 2005. He is well-known as a professional auditor, but does not seem to have a lot of banking experience.

Mr. Dragutanu will be replacing Leonid Talmaci, who held the post since the bank was founded in 1991.


Update: Communist M.P. was assaulted by three prostitutes, Interior Minister says there was no political connotation

Interior Minister Victor Catan said today that the three women who attacked Communist M.P. Ina Supac yesterday were prostitutes. Two of the women were underage.

Mr. Catan added that there was no political connotation to the attack.

Ms. Supac said yesterday she might have been beaten because of her Communist party membership.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Communist M.P. beaten in front of Parliament by three young women

Communist M.P. Inna Supac told the press that she was beaten in front of the Parliament building yesterday. Three women, two of them underage, allegedly dragged her down on the ground, kicked her, and took her identification papers.

Ms. Supac said that she thinks the attack might have a political connotation considering the fact that the three women threw away her wallet. She added that several of her colleagues have received threatening letters and phone calls in the middle of the night.

Police have apprehended the three young women and are currently investigating the case.


Poll: Communists would win plurality of votes in Parliament, but Alliance would most likely have majority again

A new poll released by IMAS shows that if early elections are held, the Communists could gain close to 30 percent of the vote. They would be followed by the Democratic Party (12.7 percent), the Liberal Democratic Party (10.2 percent), and the Liberal Party (slightly under ten percent). The Moldova Noastra [Our Moldova] Alliance would not cross the five-percent threshold to win seats.

The percentages are based on the total number of respondents. About 10 percent said they would not vote, and more than 20 percent were undecided.

The numbers suggest the Communists may get a plurality of seats in Parliament, but that the Alliance for European Integration, of which the three parties are part, could have a majority again.

The poll also shows that Marian Lupu, the head of the Democratic Party and the ruling Alliance for European Integration's presidential candidate, is the most trusted politician in the country. He is followed by Communist head and former President (2001-2009) Vladimir Voronin and by Prime Minister Vlad Filat.

Belarus President Lukashenko writes to Communist head, praises him as "wise politician"

Belarus President Alexandr Lukashenko recently sent a letter to Party of Communists head and former President (2001-2009) Vladimir Voronin, in which he said that "I affectionately recall our multiple meetings and contacts, during which I discovered your professional and human qualities. I highly appreciate your talent as an organizer, your ability to identify optimal solutions for the most difficult problems, as well as your truly brotherly attitude toward the people of Belarus. You will always be a welcome guest in our country."

Mr. Lukashenko also praised Mr. Voronin as a "wise politician."

During the recent Communist reign (2001-2009), Moldova and Belarus had relatively good ties. The Party of Communists initially came to power promising to make Moldova part of a Belarus-Russia-Moldova Union. Mr. Voronin later reneged on this promise and said his party now supports European integration.

The new ruling Alliance for European Integration is more pro-Western, and ties with Belarus do not seem to be a priority.


Number of A(H1N1) cases increasing in leaps and bounds in Moldova

Moldovan authorities announced today that they registered 23 more cases of A(H1N1) infections within one day, which brings the total to 65, compared to 42 yesterday. In the last couple of days, the number of swine flu cases has been increasing considerably.

Pharmacies have reported a deficit of anti-flu masks and anti-viral medicine.

Two people have died from A(H1N1) complications thus far.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Two Moldovan citizens in list of top 300 wealthiest Romanians

Two Moldovans are in the "Top 300 Wealthiest Romanians" list released by weekly Capital.

Nicolae Petrov, who is active in the airline business, is 226th. Valeri Moraru, active in the beverage business, is 263rd.


Major Romanian presidential candidate makes statement about Moldova

Crin Antonescu, the Romanian National Liberal Party's presidential candidate, recently made a statement about Romania's foreign policy toward Moldova.

"I think that Moldova can join the European Union quicker than Belarus and Ukraine. I think we can fulfill our commitments to Moldova and that Moldova can fulfill its own commitments toward us," Mr. Antonescu added.

Previously, the Social Democratic Party candidate Mircea Geoana said he wants a "strategic partnership" with Moldova.

Current incument Traian Basescu will meet Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat on November 13-14.

For more information about this topic, click on an Imedia story here.


School vacation extended for another week because of A(H1N1) fears

The school vacation that was supposed to end on November 8 has been extended by another week because of A(H1N1) infection fears.

Authorities have also asked parents with small children to refrain from taking them to kindergarten.

Over 40 people have been diagnosed with A(H1N1) thus far. Two of them have died as a result of complications.

Today, the Computer Science College's Dormitory Nr. 2 was quaratined after a 16-year-old female resident was diagnosed with the swine flu virus. JurnalTV has shown footage of many students in this college wearing anti-flu masks.

Most residents also left the Free International University of Moldova's dormitories after an A(H1N1) suspicion.

The Moldovan health care system has a lot of infrastructure and staff problems. It is unclear how it could handle a potential mass A(H1N1) outbreak.


Protesters chant "We Love You, Russia" in front of Russian Embassy, ask for Russian to become state language

About 200 people, most of them Russian speakers, protested in front of the Russian Embassy in Chisinau today, asking that Russian be made into a state language. The demonstrators also chanted "We Love You, Russia."

Russia is celebrating the Day of National Unity today.

The protest was organized by Valery Klimenko, head of the Ravnopravie [Equity] Social-Political Movement. Mr. Klimenko is a well-known promoter of the interests of the Russian minority in Moldova.

At one point, Mr. Klimenko told journalists that it would be good if "we got rid of" people like Oleg Brega, a well-known civil rights activist, because he had made anti-Russian statements.

Mr. Brega said that Mr. Klimenko's statements are an instigation to inter-ethnic hatred and were meant to intimidate him. He added that he would sue Mr. Klimenko.


Religious group protests ID cards, says ID number is "Satan's code"

About one thousand Orthodox believers gathered in front of the Palace of the Republic today, where legislative sessions are normally held, to ask that a new identification card be released to them.

The current ID card has a unique number for every Moldovan citizen. The protesters think that that number is "Satan's code."

“We are not animals and we must not identify ourselves according to codes and numbers. People have to be identified according to their Christian name," said Serghei Botnariuc, a priest.

The group asked for a new identification card that does not include a number on it.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Website posts interview with Natalia Morari at Alliance of Youth Movements summit

A new interview with Natalia Morari, one of the organizers of the peaceful protests in the wake of the April 5 elections in Moldova, is now available.

Ms. Morari recently attended the Alliance of Youth Movements Summit in Mexico City, Mexico (October 14-16, 2009), where this interview was taken.

U.N. Committee against Torture opens 43rd session, to talk about Moldova

The United Nations Committee Against Torture has opened its 43rd session in Geneva. During the opening, Secretary-General Ibrahim Salama, Chief of the Human Rights and Treaty Branch of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), spoke about some of the developments in the Committee in the past year.

Mr. Salama also mentioned that the Committee would analyze reports about torture practices in Moldova.

Moldova has often been accused of being unable to curb torture, especially in police stations and prisons.

A recent report by the Soros Foundation said that after the violent protests on April 7, police detained about 700 people and tortured and beat about 300 of them. At least one death has been tied to the mass repression, as well. The new authorities have promised to punish the security forces who abused the protesters.

Moldova becomes electoral topic in Romanian presidential election

Mircea Geoana, the Social Democratic Party's presidential candidate, said during an energy forum on Monday that he would like a "strategic partnership" with Moldova, which would include "a very important economic accent."

Mr. Geoana added that he would like Romania to scrap visa fees for Moldovans and adopt a law on citizenship quickly.

Financiarul has a full story about this topic in English.

Mr. Geoana's statements may not have a huge impact on the electoral preferences of Romanian citizens residing in Moldova, however, because his main rival - incumbent Traian Basescu - is very well-liked here.

During the 2009 European Parliament elections, Mr. Basescu's party - the Democratic Liberal Party - and Mr. Basescu's daughter Elena, who ran as an independent but then joined the Democratic Liberals in the EP, won about 80 percent of the vote cast by Romanian citizens residing in Moldova. In contrast, the Democratic Liberals and Ms. Basescu won a combined 35 percent nationally in Romania.

Mr. Basescu will also meet Prime Minister Vlad Filat in Bucharest on November 13-14. In addition, the Romanian President has had rather cordial relations with Chisinau's Liberal mayor Dorin Chirtoaca.

Another A(H1N1)-related death registered in Moldova

A second A(H1N1)-related death was registered by Moldovan authorities on Monday, November 2. A 35-year-old man from the northern raion [county] of Drochia, had recently returned from Moscow and showed swine flu symptoms.

Moldova has had about 30 A(H1N1) cases thus far, and there are fears, especially at the border with Ukraine, which has had a lot more cases and deaths, that the virus could spread quickly through the country.


Two Communist M.P.s: We will not vote for Marian Lupu for President

Mark Tkaciuk and Grigori Petrenco, two leading Communist M.P.s, told the press today that the Party of Communists (PC) will not vote for Marian Lupu for President.

Mr. Lupu is the ruling Alliance's presidential candidate. The coalition has 53 seats in the legislature, eight short of the 61 it needs to elect a President. Those eight votes can only come from the PC.

The M.P.s made these statements after their leader and former President Vladimir Voronin (2001-2009) returned from Moscow. It is unclear what Mr. Voronin did there since no official statements have been made about the visit, but he probably spoke with Russian officials about the election of the President. Mr. Lupu was in Moscow at about the same time, but on a separate visit, which generated rumors that Russia is trying to mend ties between the PC head and the Alliance's candidate.

These ties have been tense ever since Mr. Lupu left the PC in April 2009, amid rumors that he was displeased with not having been nominated for President by his party. The Communists nominated then-Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanii instead.

Mr. Lupu went on to head the Democratic Party, crossed the electoral threshold during the July 29 election, and joined the anti-Communist Alliance for European Integration.


Moldovan Prime Minister to meet with Romanian President on November 13-14, with Russian counterpart on November 20

Prime Minister Vlad Filat was on ProTV tonight, speaking about the current political situation in Moldova and about the various loans that Moldova is seeking abroad. Mr. Filat spoke about the possibility of getting a one-billion-dollar loan from China and another one from Poland.

Mr. Filat noted that he will soon head to Bucharest to meet with Romanian President Traian Basescu between November 13-14, and then go to Moscow on November 20 to speak with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin about a potential 150-million-dollar loan the Kremlin promised to give to Chisinau.

The Government recently signed a 590-million-dollar loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

Moldova has been reeling from the economic crisis, and will be using some of the loans to pay salaries and pensions.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Romanian authorities to use Twitter to release information about voting abroad, including in Moldova

Romania will hold presidential elections on November 22, 2009 and December 6, 2009 (if a second round between the two top candidates is organized).

Bucharest has opened 13 polling stations in Moldova on this occasion. Many thousands of Moldovans hold Romanian passports.

Cotidianul reports that the Foreign Affairs Ministry (FAM) has decided to "tweet" information about voting abroad, including in Moldova, in order to increase transparency.

FAM representatives have said that they will be using Twitter to provide information about the actual organization of the voting process, which is normally not presented in press releases.

The Twitter account can be accessed here.

It is only available in Romanian, however. Imedia will be following the site to check for news related to Moldova.

Moldovan authorities limit border traffic with Ukraine because of A(H1N1) fears

Moldovan authorities have limited border traffic with Ukraine because the neighboring country has encountered serious problems with A(H1N1) infections. Thus far, the Government in Kiev has registered more than 50 deaths related to this virus.

Customs authorities have been given flu-fighting masks and have been instructed to inform authorities if anyone suspected of having been infected with the A(H1N1) virus crosses into Moldova.

Moldova has registered about 20 cases of A(H1N1) infections so far. One person has died from complications related to this virus.

Romanian President signs decree allowing the opening of two more consulates in Moldova

Romanian President Traian Basescu signed a decree today allowing the opening of two more consulates in Moldova - one in Cahul (in the South) and another in Balti (in the North).

Bucharest only has one consulate in Chisinau at the moment, which has become rather notorious for its long lines and overcrowdedness. Many Moldovans coming from outside of Chisinau to get a Romanian visa often have to spend a few days in the capital, sometimes on the front lawn of the consulate.

Communist authorities refused to allow Bucharest to open up these consulates. The new Alliance for European Integration has tried to mend ties with Romania and with the West. Two weeks ago, the Moldovan cabinet allowed Romania to open up the consulates.

Chisinau will also open a Moldovan consulate in the city of Iasi, which is right at the border.

Presidential election date will most likely be set for November 10

Media outlets in Romania and Moldova have reported that Parliament will meet tomorrow to set the date of the presidential election for November 10.

Initially, legislators were supposed to elect a head of state on October 23, but the ruling Alliance delayed the date to change the law on the presidential election. As a result of the changes, elections can be valid even if only one candidate runs. In addition, Parliament cannot be dissolved more than once a year, and no less than 365 after the last time it was dismissed.

This means that if Parliament fails to elect a President, new elections will be called in 2010.

The deadline by which legislators have to elect a head of state is November 11, so November 10 is the latest possible date at which the election could have been set.

The Alliance currently holds 53 seats in the legislature, eight short of the 61 votes it needs to elect Marian Lupu, its nominee. Those votes can only come from the Party of Communists.

Alliance's presidential candidate: I would withdraw if someone convinces me that my candidacy is against the national interest

Marian Lupu, the ruling Alliance for European Integration's presidential candidate, said during a press conference today that he would withdraw from the race if someone convinces him that his candidacy goes against Moldova's national interest.

Mr. Lupu is most likely referring to the Party of Communists, which has thus far said it would not vote for him.

The ruling Alliance has 53 seats in the legislature, eight short of the 61 it needs to elect Mr. Lupu. Those votes can only come from the Party of Communists.

Mr. Lupu just returned from Moscow, where he met with ruling United Russia party representatives. The Alliance candidate said he went there to talk about bilateral ties between the Democratic Party, which he heads, and United Russia. He also noted that he met with Konstantin Kosachov, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Russian Duma and with Segrei Naryshkin, the Kremlin's chief of staff, with whom he spoke about the political situation in Moldova.

Mr. Lupu said that it was "natural" for Russia to be concerned about recent events in Moldova.

Communist head and former President (2001-2009) Vladimir Voronin, who has been one of the most vocal critics of Mr. Lupu's candidacy, was in Moscow at about the same time as Mr. Lupu, but the Alliance candidate said during the same press conference today that he did not meet Mr. Voronin and that United Russia representatives did not bring up the Communist head's visit.

Political analysts have said that Mr. Lupu's and Mr. Voronin's simultaneous visit to Russia is an indicator of the fact that Moscow still has a lot of influence in the country.