April 7 in Moldova
I think I was part of something important yesterday, but I’m really not sure.
April 7, 2010 was the one-year anniversary of protests in Chisinau when the Communist party won the elections (as usual). There were accusations of fraudulent voting tactics, but no one really seems to be able to say for sure. I wasn’t sure if the one-year anniversary would be a commemoration or another series of riots.
Still, I wandered downtown to Stefen Cel Mare Street that morning to see what was going on and got swept into a crowd gathering in front of some government building. Politician after politician spoke, all in Moldovan, so I had not a clue what they were saying. The only words I recognized were “communisti” and “Republika de Moldova” and “democrati” and “liberatado” (forgive the likely misspellings here). I followed the crowd and applauded after each speech. But as far as I know for sure, I could have been applauding the statement “Long live communism!”
But I don’t think I was. The speakers were using the words “criminal” and “Voronin” (the deposed president and head of the Communist party here) too closely together to be doing anything other than condemning the violence (and deaths) that followed last year’s elections. (Incidentally, Voronin headed off on a two-week vacation on April 6…getting out of Dodge, I guess.)
I actually had a pretty good spot up front to view the speeches. I just drifted with the crowd to get my position and didn’t even need to use Moldovan crowd maneuvering tactics. These people are absolutely masterful at working their way through crowds. They have no sense of personal space and are adept at throwing an elbow or smoothly gliding sideways to push through the crowd to maneuver themselves where they want to be.
Interesting to see that the crowd was made up of people of all ages, since the original protests seemed to be more by younger people and students. There are still questions about what happened on April 7. Did Romania help incite the riots against the communists? Did the communists stage this themselves to try to make Romania look bad? (And the relationship between Moldova and Romania has been strained over the last year, so that isn’t far-fetched.)
I listened to speeches…watched the wind blow the blue, red, and yellow of the Moldovan flag overhead…looked at the displays of photos from last year’s protests. I’m an outsider to this political event, but may have seen an important moment in Moldova’s history. Time will tell.