Thousands take part in protest against pro-Western government: Moldova
The country is facing one of the worst cost-of-living crises, alongside the struggle to attain Russian gas imports due to EU sanctions.
Sunday witnessed a wave of thousands protesting high inflation and fuel costs outside Moldova's government in the ex-Soviet state's main square in Chisinau, as they demanded pro-Western President Maia Sandu and her government to resign.
The protesters amounted to around 20,000 although according to the opposition, the count was twice that with police presence amounting to 6,500. This sets a record as the largest protest since Sandu was elected to office back in 2020, a time when Moldova was observing a state of eliminating corruption after which Sandu vowed to guarantee EU membership, which in turn brought in hefty amounts of aid to the country.
Dinu Turcanu, an opposition member, said, "Moldova is now in clinical death, to which the current authorities have brought it."
Speaking of Russia, Moldova purchases gas supplies from Russian gas giant Gazprom under a contract drawn up last year and the price fluctuates on a monthly basis, and as spot prices differ from season to season, they have skyrocketed this year. This led the country to suffer from critical economic difficulties due to the cost of energy prices that increased by 29% in September after increasing to almost 50% in August. The country endured a growth estimate of zero in 2022, hit by high inflation of 34.3% and interest rates of 21.5%.
Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita stated this month that the economy is anticipated to reach a growth of 1.5% next year.
Moldova's prosecutor general has been removed and its former President, close to Moscow, was placed under house arrest ever since pro-western Sandu took office.
In light of the economic cripple and Sandu's inactions, protesters blamed the President for failing to negotiate a more reasonable gas price with Russia as they set up over 120 tents outside government headquarters and insisted on remaining in place until she resigns and calls early elections.
"Sandu's biggest shortcoming is being unable to communicate with ordinary Moldovans," Analyst Vitalie Andrievschi told Reuters. "Sandu and her government are unable to assume their share of responsibility and punish those clearly unable to do their jobs."