A single spark: Persecuted Moldovan activists defy oligarch

Counter-protest against Plahotniuc’s regime took place in Chisinau

During the October 21 rally organized by the Democratic Party of [Moldovan oligarch Vlad] Plahotniuc in the center of the capital, a counter-protest against the current oligarchic regime took place. Young people chanted “Jos Plahotniuc” [“Plahotniuc out”].

Pavel Grigorchuk (left, with fist raised)
Earlier, representatives of the non-parliamentary opposition published an appeal on social media, noting that everyone who wanted to express their attitude towards Plahotniuc and the gangster regime in power had the opportunity to do it directly at the Democratic Party rally.

“Under threat of dismissal, state employees from all over the country are being forced to come to the central square in Chisinau. This is the perfect time to organize a flash mob to demand ‘Jos Plahotniuc’! After all, Plahotniuc himself, for the sake of his money, will bring those who hate him.

“And for the people in Chisinau, and the opposition as a whole, this is a unique opportunity to protest Plahotniuc and all his goons,” the post said.


Police carried out a ‘cleansing’ of the square at the time of Plahotniuc’s speech about the fourth way for Moldova

Dozens of police officers used force against several activists who publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with the actions of the oligarch and leader of the ruling Democratic Party, Vladimir Plahotniuc.

The incident occurred on Sunday, during the “national assembly” of the Democratic Party in the central square of Chisinau. Nobody approached the activists until Plahotniuc appeared on the scene. A few minutes before the oligarch took the stage, dozens of policemen, led by one of the police chiefs, Maryna Maxiana, grabbed activist and former political prisoner Pavel Grigorchuk, demanding he leave the area of the Grand National Assembly. 

At the time of the “special operation of the police” to clean up the area, Plahotniuc announced his strategy “On the fourth way for Moldova.”

[In his speech, the oligarch stated: “For 27 years, there were only three directions in which the politicians of the Republic of Moldova tried to lead people: towards the EU, the Eurasian path and the path of unification with Romania. For too long, Moldova has been waiting for someone from abroad to build a future for it.”

[Announcing his programmatic vision, the oligarch said that those present at the Square had gathered, “in order to go along a new path, which no one had yet dared to offer us. This is the path for Moldova, by Moldova, the path that will lead citizens to solve their specific problems, our problems.”]


Chronicle of one protest, two against all

By Alexander Roshko

[Translator’s note: Alexander Roshko and Pavel Grigorchuk are members of the “Petrenko Group” of former political prisoners who are banned by court order from attending protests. Despite this, they led the anti-oligarchy speak-out in Chisinau’s central square on Oct. 21.]

In the life of every person there probably comes a moment when you cannot keep silent anymore. When you can no longer put up with what is happening around you, you no longer want to be an outside observer, and decide to declare your position openly. Despite the presence of very real risks.

I’m tired of it. How long can you keep quiet?

City center. The square. A lot of people. More than half of them have no idea what is happening and why they were brought here. An incredible amount of party tinsel in the form of flags, artificial roses and other paraphernalia. All of this is false, pretentious and so unreal that it’s disgusting. Rumpled people look at their watches, waiting for the end of this “event,” in which they unwittingly became participants.

Involuntarily — because it is unlikely that people voluntarily got up at 4 o’clock in the morning to arrive at the central square of the country and give praise to the party that brought them to poverty.

There are two of you. To say that it is not scary – that would be too much. Of course, there are some concerns. We don’t know how this will end.

You pass among those present in the square. You hear obscene words addressed to the authorities and the leader of this very party. However, all of this is quiet, people cautiously looking around. But that’s not important. The main thing is that there is no “national” love and support, all this is a farce, a fake, a lie …

You go further and occupy a convenient place, from which you can see the stage and the “benefactors” speaking on it. During the speech of one of them, you begin to declare your position, which, to put it mildly, does not coincide with the opinion of those who pour sweet words from the stage. Slightly stunned citizens turn toward you. Like, how so? You? Two? Against such a colossus? But the faces clearly read approval and solidarity. A few people join you, timidly at first, and little by little, about a dozen begin to chant with you. And the same number has already openly expressed their support.

Another person appears. In his hands is a small megaphone and a fishing rod, which he uses as a flagpole for a self-made banner, which he unfolds. On it is the inscription — “Down with the mafia regime.”

An incredible number of journalists appear, whom this small but courageous act has attracted, much more than the falsehoods loudly pronounced from the stage. 

Of course, law enforcement officers stopped this spontaneous protest. An employee in civilian clothes took the banner by force. And one of the police chiefs, along with officers of the Special Forces, pushed you aside. It would seem that detention was inevitable, but the leader of this “operation,” seeing the massive support for the protesters by eyewitnesses, as well as clear disapproval of the actions of the police, did not dare to resort to extreme measures and tried to resolve the issue diplomatically. At the same time, he was not able to clearly explain the reasons for the intervention of the police against the expression by citizens of their opinion, which is guaranteed by the Constitution.

While confrontations with the police continued, the rally was over and already on the faces of the people there was a feeling of joy and relief at the fact that it was over and they can do other, more pleasant and useful things.

Of course, your actions did not bring a lightning-fast result, you didn’t move mountains, or change the regime in a moment. But you saw what hatred those who were brought to the square by force have for the authorities. You have seen the support for the statements against this regime. So, all is not lost and Moldova has a chance to free itself from this gathering of usurpers.


Translated by Greg Butterfield

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