September 22: Honorary member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and former Moldovan deputy Grigory Petrenko, who was arrested for participating in an anti-oligarchy protest September 6, was invited to attend the session of the Parliamentary Assembly to be held from September 28 to October 2 in Strasbourg, France.
Petrenko was invited to the Strasbourg session as a former deputy chairman of the Group of the Unified European Left (UEL) in PACE to report on the human rights situation in Moldova.
The invitation came from Chairman of the Group of the UEL Marinus Cox, who asked Grigory Petrenko to participate in the “meetings of the group in the fourth session from September 28 to October 2 in Strasbourg, as the ex-deputy chairman of the Group of the United European Left in PACE, to report about current development in the human rights situation in the Republic of Moldova.”
Recall that Grigory Petrenko was awarded the title of “honorary member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe” in June 2015 in Strasbourg. At the same time, current PACE President Anne Brasseur awarded Grigory Petrenko the “Medal of the Parliamentary Assembly for Merit” (Pro Merito).
Grigory Petrenko was a member of the Moldovan PACE delegation until 2007. In addition, he was a member of the Group of the Unified European Left, and for the last two years was its vice-chairman. He was delegated from the Parliamentary Group to the Monitoring Committee of the Assembly. For several years, he served as co-rapporteur of PACE on Albania and on the Subcommittee on Nagorno-Karabakh.
Grigory Petrenko, leader of the opposition party Red Bloc, former MP and honorary member of the PACE, was among seven protesters detained by police on September 6. Police used brutal force against protesters in front of the Prosecutor General’s Office to prevent them from setting up a tent encampment on the sidewalk in front of the public institution for a peaceful non-stop protest against the oligarchic regime. They were placed under arrest for 30 days.
The arrest of the leader of the opposition party sparked a wave of criticism both in Moldova and abroad. Demands for the release of political prisoner Grigory Petrenko and the other young men who were arrested at the September 6 protest have already been received from several deputies of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, politicians in Germany, Georgia, Hungary, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. Many Moldovan politicians, journalists and analysts have publicly called for the release of the political prisoners. In a number of cities around the world, rallies have been held in solidarity with the political prisoners, with the demand for their immediate release from detention.
EU Ambassador to Moldova Pirkka Tapiola said that he was aware of the fate of the political prisoners, and that he is closely monitoring the situation.
Translated by Greg Butterfield