“Cancel the fines!” How the first protest rally took place in Chisinau during the emergency
By Nadezhda Koptu
The first protest during the state of emergency and quarantine took place in Chisinau. Its participants demanded that the authorities abolish the fines that citizens were issued for violating quarantine measures, release political prisoners and support doctors. NewsMaker reports on how the protesters complied with sanitary standards and communicated with the police, and when they intend to hold the next rally.
|Pavel Grigorchuk (with megaphone) during April 29 protest.
The protest was organized by the association Dreptul la Dreptate (“Right to Justice”). One of the founders of the association, Pavel Grigorchuk, received permission from the city hall to hold a protest on the morning of April 29. The action was held in Stefan cel Mare Park. Grigorchuk made markings on the sidewalk so that the protesters maintained social distancing. He made markings with chalk, and measured the distance with a shovel handle.
While Grigorchuk was marking the pavement, police began to gather near the park. Some of them stood behind the fence. “Why are you behind the fence? Come to our flash mob. Christ is risen!’ one of the protesters addressed the police. But the police did not answer …
“Cancel the fines!”
The protesters’ main demand was the abolition of fines for violation of quarantine measures. Grigorchuk stood with a megaphone right at the monument to Stefan cel Mare. He said that recently his acquaintance was fined 75 thousand lei for selling takeaway coffee. At the same time, Grigorchuk noted that during the consideration of the vendor’s appeal in the Appeals Count, there were about 30 people in the hall, despite the quarantine.
“I’m sure that most of the people who received these fines cannot pay them. We demand that the authorities abolish fines that amount to €1 thousand (for individuals — 22.5 thousand lei) in a country where the average salary in the economy does not even reach €500. It’s a mockery,” said Grigorchuk.
Wiping the megaphone with a disinfectant cloth, he handed it to Andrei Chirtoaca. He came to protest with a poster: “Please cancel the fines.” Chirtoaca said that he was illegally fined (Chirtoaca was fined 25 thousand lei for a walk in the Valya Morilor park, while it was forbidden to be in the parks). He called on citizens to join the protests and talk about the abuses of police and judges who impose fines. “They can’t shut our mouths,” said Chirtoaca. He also said that it was difficult for those who were fined to defend their rights in court: “Police impose fines, the first court cancels them, and the Appeals Chamber restores them. You are not given the right to defend yourself. ”
He was supported by Alexander Roshko, vice-chair of the European Left Party. He said that fines are imposed “selectively” and in violation of the law. Then all the protesters began to chant: “Anulare!” (Repeal!)
The protesters were also outraged that the authorities are poorly protecting healthcare workers who are fighting the coronavirus. Grigorchuk noted that in Moldova almost a third of those infected with coronavirus are doctors and medical workers. “When the authorities say that only 29 of them will receive compensation, it’s just a mockery,” he stressed. Grigorchuk also noted that doctors daily put their health and the health of their loved ones at risk.
Roshko called the doctors heroes, noting that the authorities “humiliate doctors without providing them with means of protection.”
“Free political prisoners”
The protesters also demanded the release of “political prisoners.” Eduard Rudenko, a lawyer and co-founder of the Dreptul la Dreptate association, noted that before the coronavirus epidemic, he sent a list to the Prosecutor General’s Office of criminal cases that were brought for political reasons. Rudenko said that despite the fact that the Prosecutor General’s Office responded to the received document, “many on the list remain under arrest.”
“I find it difficult to understand why the prosecutor’s office is not working. No pandemic can stop the work of the prosecutor’s office and the release of these innocent people ”said Rudenko.
Grigorchuk emphasized that during the general meeting of prosecutors, Prosecutor General Alexander Stoyanoglo noted that there was a “political component” in the cases of Olga Punga, David Davityan and Valery Kuku. “They are in prison because the courts are not currently considering their cases. And this despite the fact that the prosecutor general declared a violation of their rights,” said Grigorchuk.
Roshko added that he considers it “unacceptable” that there are still “political prisoners” in Moldova. Then the protesters began to chant: “Libertate!” (Freedom!)
“Will we sit at home on the couch?”
Not only civic activists, but also politicians joined the protest. The mayor of Balti, the leader of “Our Party” Renato Usatii, and his supporters came. He refused to speak, noting that he came “just as a citizen.”
Grigorchuk, in turn, appealed several times to the parties “Platform Dignity and Truth” (DA) and “Action and Solidarity” (PAS), inviting them to join the protests. He also addressed the leader of the DA Ungheni organization, George Petik, and recalled that in the spring of 2019 they were sitting in neighboring cells. Grigorchuk urged Petik to join the protests. He noted that an impromptu protest alone is not enough to attract the attention of the authorities. Grigorchuk called on all citizens to join the protests.
“Let’s consult: should we continue to go to protests, should we urge our friends and colleagues to come to the courts? Maybe even to the houses of judges and prosecutors? They live in very nice houses, in palaces. Come to officials to demand justice? Or should we continue to do nothing, sitting at home on the couch?” he addressed the crowd.
The protesters decided that the action should continue. The next protest was scheduled for Sunday, May 3.
“No more than three”: Anti-fine protesters face fines
Participants in the April 29 protest rally in central Chisinau face fines. This was reported by the police, noting that the protesters violated the ban on gatherings of more than three, although they kept their distance.
The police said an investigation is ongoing. “During the rally, the participants kept their distance, but there were more than three of them. This violates the order of the emergency commission, according to which it is allowed to be in parks from April 27, but in groups of a maximum of three people. All those guilty will be punished in accordance with the law,” the police said.
Recall that on April 29, the first protest rally during the state of emergency and quarantine took place in Chisinau. Its participants demanded that the authorities abolish the fines that citizens were issued for violating quarantine measures, release political prisoners and support doctors.
The protest was organized by the association Dreptul la Dreptate (“Right to Justice”). One of the founders of the association, Pavel Grigorchuk, on the morning of April 29 received permission from city hall to hold a protest. The action was held in Stefan cel Mare Park. Grigorchuk made markings on the sidewalk so that the protesters maintained social distancing.
The action was attended by several dozen people. The vice-chair of the European Left Party, Alexander Roshko, lawyer and co-founder of the Dreptul la Dreptate association Eduard Rudenko, Balti mayor and Our Party leader Renato Usatii and others came.