(Reuters) - Moldova’s Communist rulers arrested 193 opposition protesters early on Wednesday and riot police regained control of the presidential offices and parliament, ransacked in anti-government riots.
President Vladimir Voronin accused the opposition -- which favours closer ties with the West -- of attempting a coup, after violent protests against his ruling Communist party’s weekend election victory swept the capital of Europe’s poorest country.
ANDREW WILSON, SENIOR POLICY FELLOW AT LONDON-BASED EUROPEAN
Russia has already made statements supporting the communists. In different places the Russian media has spun the line that this is a Western plot with particular local elements of Romanian inspiration. Voronin himself appears to be playing that line very strongly today...
The EU special representative is in Chisinau, but whether he will have enough clout on his own remains to be seen. But while he is there, people like (EU foreign affairs chief) Javier Solana are reluctant to intervene themselves.
It’s unclear whether the agreement announced yesterday to recount the vote has stuck. It would be a good thing if it was delivered on. I don’t there is a much doubt that a recount would change the margins, but not the overall result, because clearly the Communist party is ahead. The EU could possibly be involved in some kind of more general roundtable process, in particular to address some of the structural problems in the electoral campaign and press all sides to respect non-violence and constitutional principles, which includes outgoing president Voronin stepping down, given that his two terms are over.
(On Transdniestria) part of the background is that President Voronin has swung towards Russia somewhat. There was a kind of deal on Transdniestria very much shaped by Russia’s priorities, as opposed to the 5 plus 2 process which is broader. Europe should be pressing to keep that process rather than the Russian alternative.
Anti-Romanianism is big political force in Transdniestria. That’s why Voronin has been playing the anti-Romanian card to try to mobilise anti-Romanian feeling not just in Transdniestria but in Moldova as a whole.
EDWARD PARKER, HEAD OF EMERGING EUROPE SOVEREIGNS AT FITCH
There’s already a fair bit of political risk built into Moldova’s “B-” rating but if the unrest is prolonged and severe and impacts the economy, we would expect to take some ratings action...
(The protests) may increase regional tensions but whether it will ratchet them up to something more serious remains to be seen...
”The worsening economy may have contributed to the social unrest, though the spark was political. Like other countries, Moldova is suffering from the global slowdown which is hitting public finances and employment...
Moldova’s external debt is fairly high, though not out of line with many small developing economies at about $4 billion (2.7 billion pounds) or about 70 percent of 2008 GDP.
NICU POPESCU, EUROPEAN COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS POLICY
“Moldova may be small, but the survival of its democracy matters for the whole of Europe. Javier Solana must immediately travel to Chisinau to mediate between politicians and protesters before any further blood is shed.”
”Judging by the slogans shouted in the squares, plenty of Romanian flags in the hands of organisers of these outrages, their aim is to discredit the achievements in strengthening the sovereignty of Moldova.
“The Russian foreign ministry hopes that common sense will prevail, public and constitutional order will be restored in the next few days and the choice of the Moldovan citizens will be confirmed by all politically responsible forces”
”I call on all sides to refrain from violence and provocation. Violence against government buildings is unacceptable.
”Equally important is the respect for the inalienable right of assembly of peaceful demonstrators.
“International election observers noted in their preliminary findings that the elections met many international standards and commitments, but that further improvements were required.”
JOANNA GORSKA, DEPUTY HEAD OF EURASIA FORECASTING, EXCLUSIVE
”We would expect the demonstrations to continue for several more days and possibly become more violent. The government is accusing the opposition of orchestrating the demonstrations but in reality they appear more spontaneous, mainly student based. In the short term, that might make them more violent. We wouldn’t expect them to attack commercial property because that is not their focus but they might go after government offices and the main state television station, possibly also the Russian Embassy as Russia was the first to congratulate the government on winning the election. But even if they were to rerun the election we would expect broadly the same result.
”The causes of the crisis are not economic but the economic crisis has exacerbated it. Moldova is very dependent on remittances and they have fallen sharply. Foreign direct investment was increasing until 2008 but again that has been affected by the crisis.
“The government has accused Romania of sending people across to support the demonstrations. We believe this is unlikely, although some Romanians may be coming across spontaneously. In terms of the Transdniestria dispute, there may not be any direct impact but obviously to resolve that you need stability in Moldova.”