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A Study of Language, Identity, and Social Media
Jason Gordon, 2011
Introduction ............................................................................................................................................ 3 Part 1 – A “Twitter Revolution” ................................................................................................................ 4 The Outcome ....................................................................................................................................... 4 April 2009 Elections ............................................................................................................................. 5 “Twitter Revolution” ............................................................................................................................ 6 Moldova and ICTs ................................................................................................................................ 8 Communication Technologies and Political Mobilization ...................................................................... 9 E-Mobilization, Flash Activism and Smart Mobs ............................................................................... 9 Flash Activism ................................................................................................................................ 10 Smart Mobs ................................................................................................................................... 10 Was Moldova’s “Twitter Revolution” a Smart Mob? ....................................................................... 11 Threshold Theory ........................................................................................................................... 11 Collective Action, and the Internet ................................................................................................. 11 Leveraged Affordances .................................................................................................................. 12 Theory 2.0...................................................................................................................................... 12 Social Media .................................................................................................................................. 13 Will the Revolution be Tweeted? ................................................................................................... 13 Participant Perspectives .................................................................................................................... 15 Interview Subject Valentina ........................................................................................................... 15 Interview Subject: Irina .................................................................................................................. 16 Survey Results ................................................................................................................................ 18 Summary of Responses ...................................................................................................................... 20 Tweet Data ........................................................................................................................................ 21 #pman Content Analysis ........................................................................................................................ 22 Summary so far ..................................................................................................................................... 23 Part 2 – Moldova’s Identity Issues .......................................................................................................... 24 Two Moldovas ................................................................................................................................... 24 Soviet Period...................................................................................................................................... 25 Republic of Moldova .......................................................................................................................... 26 Moldovans or Romanians: A National Identity Crisis .......................................................................... 26 Identity and Language in Moldova ..................................................................................................... 29 2
Post-Soviet Identity Shift .................................................................................................................... 30 Communist Party Comeback: The 2001 Election ..................................................................................... 32 Economics ......................................................................................................................................... 32 Russian/Minority Fears ...................................................................................................................... 33 Communist Party Platform................................................................................................................. 35 Returning to the Present: The Communist Party until 2009 .................................................................... 36 Why the Protest? ............................................................................................................................... 37 Moldova Today .................................................................................................................................. 38 Marian Lupu .................................................................................................................................. 39 Conclusion............................................................................................................................................. 39 Further Research ................................................................................................................................... 40 References ............................................................................................................................................ 41 Appendix ............................................................................................................................................... 44 #pman Content.................................................................................................................................. 44 Word Clouds...................................................................................................................................... 51 Timeline of Events ............................................................................................................................. 53
On April 6th, 2009, a peaceful protest was called in Moldova in reaction to what some claimed were fraudulent parliamentary elections that led to the reelection of the incumbent Communist Party. Characterized as a “flash mob,” the gathering on April 6th quickly swelled to a large protest on April 7th with an estimated 30,000 participants. The events gained international attention as many journalists and technology pundits began asserting that they were organized using the social networking tool, Twitter. Headlines included “Moldova’s Twitter Revolution,” “Protests in Moldova Explode, With Help of Twitter,” and “Moldovans Turn to Twitter to Organize Protests.” How central was Twitter and other social networking technologies to the organizing of these events? How did participants perceive the events? What was the political motivation behind them? This paper seeks to answer these questions about the events of April, 2009 but also to situate them in the context of Moldova’s complex history and identity. Rather than concentrate only on the role of Internet Communication Technologies in a single event, this paper strives to explore the role of identity
politics in Moldova, especially in relation to Moldova’s Communist Party (PCRM) that, though weakened, still enjoys broad support from the populace. Part 1 of the paper will focus on the April, 2009 events dubbed the “Twitter Revolution.” After a brief historical overview of the event followed by a theoretical discussion of the role of ICTs in political mobilization (e-mobilization), qualitative data from participants will be examined as well as an analysis of the #pman tweets that caught the attention of the international media. Part 2 will delve into Moldova’s history, discussing the question of national and ethnic identity in Moldova, especially their association with language. This will set the background for a discussion on the Communist Party’s 2001 electoral victory and subsequent dominance of national politics. Lastly, I will draw conclusions from the preceding sections and discuss how a convergence of identity politics, youthful idealism, and Web 2.0 technologies brought about a “Twitter Revolution” in Moldova.
Part 1 – A “Twitter Revolution”
In September of 2009, Vladimir Voronin, the iron-willed leader of the Communist Party of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) resigned as Moldova’s president, ending the eight-year reign of Europe’s only remaining communist party to hold power. Voronin’s resignation was required by Moldova’s constitution after a coalition of western-leaning parties, the Alliance for European Integration (AIE), eked out a victory in July of 2009 in heavily-contested parliamentary elections, winning 53 seats to the communists’ 48. The bitter campaign saw the two opposing camps trading accusations of treason and dictatorial designs. “I hand over power to the hands of the new authorities with a heavy heart,” Voronin said in a statement on Sept. 11, 2009. “I do not believe that politicians who have made an alliance only on the basis of emotions of denial and complete denigration of their own country, with the only goal of distributing posts, are able to put forward a new positive program” (Stern, 2009). This historical change in the landscape of Moldovan politics was brought about by the parliamentary elections of April, 2009 and subsequent protests dubbed the “Twitter Revolution” by Western pundits.
April 2009 Elections
On April 5, 2009, parliamentary elections took place in Moldova. The next day, exit polls showed the Communist Party winning a majority, an outcome that would allow them to maintain parliamentary dominance and nominate the new president. A small group of young Moldovans decided to organize an "I am an anti-Communist" flash-mob, described as a sudden silent assembly to mourn the "no future" situation they believed would occur if the communist party remained in power. Consisting of members of local NGOs (ThinkMoldova and Hyde Park) who were already employing social networking in their fight for democracy and free speech in Moldova, these social entrepreneurs perceived that the “rigged elections” ruined their hope that Moldova would continue on the democratization road towards EU membership. The news about the planned “silent protest of mourning” was transmitted via online and mobile technologies, including Twitter, Facebook, blogs, SMS, but also face-to-face discussions1. On the evening of April 6, approximately 15,000 people showed up at the protests calling for another election as well as pro-European and pro-democratic measures. News of the unexpectedly large gathering quickly spread and on April 7, a crowd of approximately 30,000 converged on the National Assembly Square (Piata Marii Adunari Nationale -PMAN) in Chisinau, the symbolic center of Moldova’s capitol city. Even though the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) issued a statement that the election results were fair, many were convinced the elections were rigged by the Communist Party and demanded a recount. Moldovan state television “ignored the protests most of the day” despite violence directed at police forces and vandalism of the Presidential and Parliament buildings (Popescu, 2009). Moldovan president Vladimir Voronin condemned the violence and called the events “an anticonstitutional coup” organized by the leaders of opposition parties. Further declarations by the government also incriminated Romania as being involved in organizing and sustaining the crowds (Barry, 2009). As protests continued into the night of April 7th and the following day, police arrested more than 200 young people. There was no official information about these arrests but in a short period, three young people were reported dead. The uncertainty of what was happening to those arrested contributed, among other factors, to diminish the number of protesters in the following days. By the fifth day (April 11), the crowds had dissipated to a few hundred.
See http://youtu.be/ITSToizDgvA for a discussion featuring Natalie Morar, one of the organizers, Jared Cohen of the State Department, and Jack Dorsey of Twitter
The political fallout from the protests resulted in a recount of election votes. No great frauds surfaced and the Communist Party remained in power. However, because the newly elected Parliament lacked by one seat the number to elect the next president2, it was dissolved and elections took place again in July 2009. This time, the Communist Party lost its majority to a newly formed coalition dubbed the Alliance for European Integration (AIE), composed of four parties who pledged to work together to forge stronger ties with the EU (Schwirtz, 2009). Vladimir Voronin stepped down as President in September, 2009. Despite a further election in November 2010, the AIE continues to lack the seats necessary to elect a president and Moldova’s political crisis continues.
The #pman hashtag began at 7:40 in the morning on April 7th by Vitalie Esanu, a software developer in Moldova: “Morning, I propose we use the tag ‘pman’ for messages from the national assembly square.”3 Vitalie attended the event on the previous night (April 6th) arranged by Natalie Morar and her colleagues at the pro-democracy NGOs Think Moldova and Hyde Park to protest the results of the previous day’s election. A young journalist, Natalia Morar used SMS and social networking tools including Twitter to spread the word about the protests against the election results. Morar intended to call together all the young people in Moldova who didn't vote for the Communist party to come into the streets with candles to commemorate a national day of mourning. Morar expected about 300 people to come, but she about 15,000 people ended up attending the “national day of mourning.” In a blog post, Vitalie described the peaceful mobilization on April 6th4:
“I was there on the evening of April 6th, 2009, in the square, without a candle (I’m not a fan of these things being displayed in public), and I remained wide-eyed with wonder. There were so many people.”
At the time, there was an estimated 100 Twitter users located in Moldova. 5 As the protests in Chisinau turned violent (police clashes and the vandalization of the presidential and parliamentary buildings), the news about #pman spread over the Internet and it was only a matter of hours until election protests in a relatively unknown country were dubbed the ‘Twitter Revolution” by the international media (Morozov, 2009). Even though it started as a communication channel for people attending the protest, the hashtag
2 3 4 5
The so-called “Golden Vote” Tweets and other subject data were translated from Romanian by the author http://www.esanu.name/vitalie/ According to a Google Search of Twitter users who state their location as either Chisinau or Moldova
#pman on Twitter quickly evolved into a hub for people around the world to get the latest information about what was happening in Chisinau. Approximately 32,000 tweets were sent through #pman from its creation on April 7 through April 12, 2009 when the protests ended. Protests in small, poor Moldova would normally not capture the attention of the international media. Using Twitter was "a great way to get attention on the events because it was the flavor of the month in social media and mentioning cool new tech was a great way to get journalists to cover an event they might otherwise miss” (Zuckerman, 2009). Most of the articles about the events in Moldova mentioned Twitter first in the list of social networking sites (SNS) used by protesters, even though other SNS such as Facebook, LiveJournal, and Faces.md were more actively used in Moldova (Ionescu, 2009). The events in Moldova were dubbed the "Twitter Revolution" because in the midst of the events and rapidly spreading news, it was believed that Twitter played a crucial role in organizing the demonstrations (Morozov, 2009). In his blog, Vitalie Esanu states:
Although the mobilization of the protestors wasn’t only done through Twitter (I personally learned what was going on through Twitter), but also other social networks and SMS. However, “Twitter Revolution” sounds cool.
Esanu submitted an email with Morozov’s article attached to the editor of TechCrunch, a popular site for technology news, and “Student Protests are Turning into a Twitter Revolution” soon appeared on the site’s front page6. Esanu attributed the wide distribution of this article via RSS and syndication on other sites to the explosion of interest in the #pman tag on Twitter and the subsequent coverage of the “Twitter Revolution” by CNN. The fact that tweets were publicly accessible allowed for a large number of people to get to the information and interact with the existing social and informational networks. NGOs and many young people of Moldova were not only present at the protests but some were actively engaging with Twitter readers about the protests. All this led journalists and media analysts to believe that Twitter was a tool used during the events and for its organization. The role Twitter played in the events at Chisinau continues to be contested- some believe it was less about the organization of a social movement as proffered by media outlets but more as a platform to rapidly spread the news about the protests to a global populace who may have never otherwise known they were taking place (Serbanuta, 2009). Esanu agrees with this last argument in the conclusion to his blog post with the following:
Thus, the “Twitter Revolution” began to be used and given as an example in all conferences on social networks. But, one thing should be clarified: In our case, Twitter did not have a role in organizing, but rather informing people outside Moldova…The name “Twitter Revolution” was preferred only because it was cool, because it was more appealing than “Facebook Revolution, “Odnoklasniki Revolution,” SMS Revolution” or “Social Network Revolution.” It was rather a new type of marketing for promoting an event, a crucial event for the destiny of a community.
Moldova and ICTs
The graph above, derived from the World Bank’s data on Internet use, shows the phenomenal growth in Internet access within the country in the last decade. 7 Mobile telephone use in the country is even higher, approaching 70% of the population as of 2008. According to the most recent report by theOpenNet Initiative8, a collaboration between Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, and the SecDev Group, Internet users in Moldova have “largely unfettered access despite the government’s restrictive and increasingly authoritarian tendencies. Evidence of second- and third-generation controls is mounting. Although filtering does not occur at the backbone level, the majority of filtering and surveillance takes place at the sites where most Moldovans access the Internet: Internet cafes and workplaces.” In a 2010 report, ONI made mention of the government response during the April 2009 events:
Even though Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, Internet and cell phones are used extensively by opposition and civil society groups to organize protests and voice their opinion. After the parliamentary elections on April 5, 2009, thousands of Moldovans attempted to gather in Chisinau’s main
square to protest the results. The authorities disconnected cell phone coverage in the main square. More than 10,000 Moldovans9 joined in on Twitter (some with GPRS technology on their mobiles) to share their opinions and spread the news of Chisinau’s political protests. The authorities attempted to shut down a number of Web sites for a few days, demonstrating a resolute hand in dealing with protesters. This incident, like others that have transpired in the region (e.g., the Ukrainian Orange Revolution), reveals the growing role of the social media in Eastern Europe as a tool for organizing protests and diffusing them online. At the same time, it creates the concern that governments in the region, aware of the increasing importance of social media, might attempt to close down free speech outlets anytime they feel threatened (ONI report, 2010).
Since the 2009 events, Moldovan authorities appear to have recognized the political and social importance of the Internet. Of the main political parties, all are using Web sites as mobilization tools and some are making extensive use of social networking tools like Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter. 10 According to ONI, there is also evidence that Moldovan security forces have developed mechanisms to monitor Internet content.
Communication Technologies and Political Mobilization
Communication technologies have been studied and considered powerful factors shaping political mobilization since the democratic uprisings of the 1980s in the former Eastern Bloc when overseas satellite television brought news of events to local dissidents that went unreported at home. Fax machines were considered important mobilization tools for Chinese students in the 1989 demonstrations. Handheld video cameras are also cited as being important tools of documentation in early 1990s (Chadwick, 2006) . These one-to-many technologies gave social movement organizers the ability to reach wider audiences at reduced costs. Is the Internet as a complex, many-to-many medium simply another technological tool that enhances traditional mobilization techniques or does it represent a qualitative break that changes the dynamics of mobilization? Researchers are divided on the issue but all recognize that the Internet and the e-mobilization that it affords are potentially game-changers for traditional collective action theories. E-Mobilization, Flash Activism and Smart Mobs One way of characterizing the “Twitter Revolution” in Moldova is as a form of e-mobilization called “flash activism.” E-mobilization refers broadly to the use of Internet Communication Technologies by interest groups and social movements for political organization, recruitment, and campaigning (Chadwick, 2006). This definition could refer to both the use of the Web in organizing and directing
It is unclear how ONI calculated this number. From April 7 to April 12, less than 2,000 unique users participated in the #pman twitter discussion and it can be safely assumed that the majority were not located in Moldova. 10 https://sites.google.com/site/moldovaelectionanalysis/home/results-and-conclusions
more traditional offline action and direct action that takes place only in the online world (e.g. e-mail campaign, online petitioning). Flash Activism In their book, The Net Effect: How Cyberadvocacy is Changing the Political Landscape, Daniel Bennett and Pam Fielding describe activism facilitated by the Web. Claiming that with the Internet, anyone can become an activist, Bennett and Fielding suggest that social movement or protest organizers no longer need to cultivate the ongoing allegiance of participants in a structured organization but can rather mobilize rapidly at low cost on demand. Like a flash flood or cascade, the power of flash activism is argued to come from the massive influx of participation that becomes possible when participation costs are lowered so that many more sympathetic individuals are wiling to participate (Bennett & Fielding, 1999). In Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, Clay Shirky makes a similar argument that ICTs have dramatically decreased both the cost of and the need for managing collective actions (Shirky, 2009). Participants in flash activism also appear to be less attached to traditional social movement organizations and less driven by affiliation to organizers of collective action. One example of flash activism is the phenomenon of “Smart Mobs.” Smart Mobs The most famous example of a Smart Mob is the 2001 People Power II (EDSA II) protests in the Philippines. Protesting the failure to impeach then President Joseph Estrada, over 1 million Filipinos took to the streets. Over the course of the next four days, the crowd used cell phone text messaging to coordinate a peaceful protest that forced Estrada to resign. Demonstrations during the Ukraine’s Orange Revolution offer another example of an organized protest movement facilitated by both Web sites and text messaging. In November, 2004, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians protested electoral fraud, spending nearly two weeks outside day and night in freezing temperatures. Coordination of activists via SMS allowed organizers to mobilize supplies and support. According to Chadwick, Smart Mobs indicate the potential of mobile Internet technologies:
Unlike traditional computers connected to the Internet, which are often used by solitary individuals sitting in a quiet corner, mobile technologies are deeply embedded in the context of everyday experiences. In the shopping center, the café, or the street corner, talking and texting are woven into the fabric of everyday social space in a way that large bulky computers will never be. In this sense, mobile use of the Internet is a much more obviously social form of technology (Chadwick, 2006, p. 128)
Was Moldova’s “Twitter Revolution” a Smart Mob? Smart Mobs have been argued as “organized spontaneity,” a blend of both decentralization and coordination that combines the physical presence and spontaneity of the crowd with the collective intelligence of an organized group (Chadwick, 2006). Though little information is available on the mobilization on the evening of April 6th, the larger protest from the morning of April 7th took place with limited Internet coverage in the square and a signal shutdown in the area affecting mobile phones. The only way to access the internet was to go into a shop or café with WiFi capability. The McDonald’s near the square was rumored to be popular for this. Without access to SMS or online communications, it is difficult to argue that the crowd was coordinated through mobile ICTs. Those on Twitter during the protest described going back to an office or home to upload pictures, videos, as well as update statuses. For example, Evisoft (Vitalie Esanu) tweets: #pman I took a few photos, I just arrived at McDonalds for WiFi. Without coverage in the square, it is difficult to capture the coordinating affordance of mobile communications. Thus, Twitter and other social media updates from the crowd were more reports of what was happening rather than attempts to direct and coordinate others. Threshold Theory Argued by Granovetter and others, threshold theory attempts to explain why people get involved in riots, strikes, protests, and other forms of collective action. The theory holds that individuals with relatively high thresholds (risk averse) are only likely to join if the risks are relatively low. Instances where the Internet plays a role in collective action could be said to reduce threshold effects for some individuals, making collective action more likely to occur. As Rheingold argues, this is because the Internet functions as a highly efficient way of simultaneously informing many others that you are engaging or are about to engage in action (Rheingold, 2003). This has the potential to lead to an acceleration in mobilization as it did in 2001 in the Philippines. Rheingold’s “swarm” argument, closely related to Bennet and Fielding’s flood, appears to apply to Moldova. Many participants reported first hearing about the protests through online social networks and being encouraged by others that posted of their own participation11. Collective Action, and the Internet Classic theories of collective action are based on traditional rational choice assumptions. Individuals are seen as rational actors trying to maximize their utility. Olson argued that collective action was difficult
See “Participant Perspectives” section
for many segments of society and involved a clear cost-benefit analysis of the costs of actions with the potential rewards. Olson’s theory suggested that most interest groups are attempting to secure “public goods,” those that benefit everyone, no matter how much or little they might contribute to their production. The “free rider” problem in relation to such goods states that individuals have the incentive to free ride on the actions of others: why should I contribute when I can benefit just as well by letting others do the work? Thus, Olson saw that some groups might never form because the costs of organizing would be too high to offset the free rider problem (Olson, 1994). The Internet may be changing this calculation according to recent collective action scholars. First, the Internet reduces communication costs significantly. “The Web can allow communication, coordination, and information sharing at very low initial costs” (Earl & Kimport, 2011, p. 10). Second, the Web allows for coordinated action without copresence of organizers and participants in physical time and space.
“This means that the processes by which individuals become participants are potentially quite different when Web usage comes into play; more specifically, the likelihood that sympathetic beneficiaries of contentious action will free ride on the actions of others is reduced. Free riding may not exist or may do so to a much lesser extent when it comes to online activism” (Earl & Kimport, 2011, p. 28)
Leveraged Affordances In their book, Digitally Enabled Social Change, Earl and Kimport examine the use of the Web in activism. The framework they base their analysis on is that of leveraged affordances:
How people use technologies, through effectively or poorly leveraging a technology’s affordances, makes a difference to social processes. Technologies don’t change societies or social processes through their mere existence but rather impact social processes through their mundane or innovative uses, and the ways in which the affordances of the technology are leveraged by those mundane or innovative uses. Another way of saying this is that it is people’s usage of technology-not technology itself-that can change social processes (Earl & Kimport, 2011, p. 14)
Theory 2.0 One possibility that Earl and Kimport found evidence of is a “supersized” activism on the Web where individuals and groups take advantage of the sharply reduced costs of organizing and participating in protest actions on the Web. For example, it is extremely easy to create a petition on the Web and direct people to sign it or to start an email campaign via a listserv. Another kind of activism that Earl and Kimport found on the Web they labeled Theory 2.0 as it changes “the fundamental theoretical processes that drive activism.” They argue that in Theory 2.0 examples, the engine driving protest might look very different from traditional activism. If the reduced costs of emobilization are combined with the ability to coordinate action without being copresent in time and 12
space, the potential exists to produce a new kind of activism that is broader, more temporary, and involves less personal sacrifice that more traditional social movement activism (Earl & Kimport, 2011). Shirky’s unmanaged collective action, Rheingold’s threshold theory, and Bennett and Fielding’s flood of activism, are all different yet similar ways of describing Theory 2.0 e-mobilization. Social Media Social media refers to a set of online tools that support social interaction between users. In contrast to traditional media such as books and television that deliver content to a large population but do not allow users to share content, social media facilitates participation and dialogue between users who generate original content. Social media takes a number of forms including audio, video, text, and images. Blogs, podcasts, bulletin boards, instant messaging platforms, and wikis are examples of the kinds of technologies that facilitate social media. Prominent examples of social media applications include Facebook.com, Twitter.com, Flickr, Youtube, and Wikipedia.12 A pithy account of the interaction between the technology and social practices that occurs in social media was found in the literature of Social Network Analysis:
Within social technologies, a complex interplay between social practices and technological infrastructures takes place. Architects will tell you that the physical design of a building or city can dramatically influence the ways in which people interact with one another. Teaching a course in a room with seats arranged in a circle versus seats arranged in rows facing the front invites a different form of participation from students. Although physical layout does not wholly determine the forms of interaction, it does make certain interactions easier and others more challenging. Similarly, the sociotechnical infrastructure, or platform, that underlies online activity influences social interaction. Admitting so is not technological determinism. Rather it is a solid materialism that recognizes that technologies change the fabric of the material world, which in turn changes the social world (Hansen, Shneiderman, & Smith, 2010, p. 11).
This change in technology that facilitates a change in the social world could be considered a kind of soft determinism. As discussed by new collective action theorists looking at the Web, these technologies change the incentives and create opportunities for both new degrees and new kinds of participation. Will the Revolution be Tweeted? With this background, we can begin to analyze some of the arguments for and against the importance of Twitter in April 2009 events. As the media’s appetite for the events increased rapidly, a number of technology commentators began to speculate on the meaning of Moldova’s Twitter Revolution. For cyber-utopians, this was another example, like the Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, where ICTs were
enabling political change. For cyber-realists, this was another case of wishful thinking on the part of technology pundits. Evgeny Morozov, Foreign Policy blogger on the interplay between technology and global politics, started the “Twitter Revolution” meme and was quick to defend it against cyber-realist arguments that pointed to the small number of Twitter accounts holders who have stated their location as Moldova.
In my view, people who point to the low number of Twitter users in Moldova as proof of the mythical nature of the subject have conceptual difficulties understanding how networks work; on a good network, you don't need to have the maximum number of connections to be powerful -- you just need to be connected to enough nodes with connections of their own. As such, the number of Twitter users in Moldova is important, but not particularly relevant -- or even very illustrative of anything. The fact that so few of them actually managed to keep the entire global Twittersphere discussing an obscure country for almost a week only proves that Twitter has more power than we think. That only 80 users have blown this story out of any proportion to me looks like the clearest indication that our public sphere is getting democratized; I think it would be an even more powerful example if there were only 8 users. 13
Morozov goes on to challenge the claim made that Twitter participation is easily quantifiable and shutoff from other media platforms. Many of the #pman tweets were in fact links to other Web sites including blogs, YouTube videos, media sites, and Facebook. One critic of the “Twitter Revolution,” Daniel Bennet argued that Twitter couldn’t have had much of an effect because, as stated earlier, there was little to no mobile phone coverage in the square, leaving out the possibility of Twitter having much of an organizational role.14 Morozov responds:
Another crucial innovation missed by most analysts of social media's role in the protests seems pretty straight-forward to me: the Twitter revolution proved that the public square -- the usual place where riots and rallies take place -- may no longer be the focal point of organizational efforts. It's still important but the balance of power has shifted away from it by giving the audience of the protests a virtual role to play as well. Twitter may not have played a role in coordinating events in the square. But there was NO coordination in that square - all reports look like it was total chaos and anarchy. With or without Twitter, there was nothing to organize as the genuine political agenda seemed to be amiss. But to prioritize the internal organizational elements of this story is to entirely miss out on the crucial role that Twitter played in mobilizing the masses outside of and far away from the square (and, in part, getting some of them TO the square in the first place). I can think of many situations, in which what is happening outside -- and especially what is being discussed outside -- is far more important than what is happening inside the rioting crowds.
Coordination of a massive collective action event that is temporary and doesn’t involve the physical copresence of organizers and participants fits well with Earl and Kimport’s Theory 2.0 version of
activism. As Morozov points out, the “Twitter Revolution” didn’t just describe the sudden appearance of a massive crowd assembled in Chisnau’s National Assembly Square, but also the spread of news and information to the Moldovan community around the globe. As is predicted by the new collective action theorists, Twitter and other social network tools didn’t just change the degree of participation but also the kind.
To attain first-hand knowledge of the action, interviews were conducted with Moldovans residing in Seattle who participated in the events in the Moldovan National Assembly Square in 2009. The interviews are supplemented with questionnaires sent out through the author’s contacts in Moldova.
Interview Subject Valentina:
In 2009, Valentina15 was a student at major University located in the center of Chisinau. She describes herself as Moldovan. Though a fluent Romanian speaker, Valentina’s parents are Russian (her primary language at home). On the morning of April 7th, someone interrupted Valentina’s class and said everyone must go to the National Assembly Square. Valentina described the request as mandatory and though she doesn’t normally go to political events, she felt compelled to accompany her classmates. Valentina did no express any sympathy with the protestors or the Communist Party but she described many of her classmates as being passionate about the event. The scene she described was chaotic – “we didn’t know where we should go, what we should say. I didn’t really feel safe. Some people were really aggressive with national flags and banners.” Fearing for her safety, Valentina decided to leave after about an hour to go home. When asked about her political identity, Valentina replied, “Mostly people who speak Russian support Communists. My family supports communists because they are Russian. I don’t think any of them is really good…it was messy before and is still messy.” After arriving home, Valentina noticed a lot of activity on Facebook. Many of her friends and classmates were posting status updates, videos, and links. She assumed that many people found out about the event because of Facebook as that is how many of her peers gather information.
Pseudonyms are used to protect the identity of study participants
Valentina stayed home the following day because of the violence but stayed up to date by watching the news on TV and following Facebook. When asked about the aftermath of the event, Valentina didn’t feel that Moldova was much better off: The biggest change is the Communist party was no longer the leading party. I wouldn’t say it was better before but at least the wages were higher and the pension funds were working better. The social protection is not as good as it was. We don’t have a president now and nobody really knows who is in charge. The country is still politically and economically unstable. Valentina also described an increase in nationalistic behavior, “Russian speakers are more discriminated now than before. The communists were more balanced. The new ruling coalition tried to close Russian schools.” When asked about the title, “Twitter Revolution,” Valentina said that was an exaggeration. She didn’t use Twitter at the time and the local media simply called it, “The April Events.” “They didn’t call it a revolution. No one was talking about revolution probably because it sounds too radical.” Valentina described a fair amount of fear and uncertainty during and after the events: We were also scared about the follow-up. They were doing a lot of investigations. There were video cameras and recordings of the events and they were searching for those people in the universities. There were arrests and the university forced some participants to leave (those who threw things or entered a building). I think it was the leading party [communist party]. They wanted to prove that these actions were provoked by the opposition party. There were other rumors that it was provoked by the communist party. Both sides were blaming each other. After being asked whether she felt safe commenting about the events using social media, Valentina jokingly replied, “Everybody was confident that the police officers were not checking Facebook.” Interview Subject: Irina Irina is in her mid-30s and runs an NGO in Chisinau. Born in the USSR in what is modern Ukraine, Irina identifies herself as Moldovan. Her family speaks Russian but she uses Romanian regularly for work. Irina first heard about the events through Facebook and Twitter as posts were made calling for people to go to Chisinau’s city center. She had been using Facebook since 2006 and started using Twitter in
2008. Irina was active on the #pman Twitter discussion starting on April 8th after many temporarily lost access to Facebook. The Internet was shut down - some specific websites. We started to promote the software that hides your IP because they blocked based on IP. I went [to the square] on April 7th around lunchtime. Irina described her motivations for going to the National Square: The elections on April 5th showed the communists winning again. It was depressing for me…it was the first time for me in my country when I was walking down the street and even the buildings were irritating me. I had never had such feelings before. I organically don’t like the idea of having a communist government so I wanted to be there with people who felt the same way as me. Arriving by herself, Irina described hearing sound grenades and smelling tear gas. The confrontation was already over when I got there. The destruction to the Parliament and President Building had already occurred. Irina moved towards the Cathedral across from the main square to hear some of the speakers from the opposition parties. Some politicians claimed there were provocateurs sent by communists but I didn’t see anything like that. Politicians said to stop the violence. There was a sense of unity from the politicians’ speeches. Irina also described a Baptist Bishop who gave a moving speech: “He spoke of Easter, hope, and nonviolence. We were afraid of bloodshed. The Prime Minister had said that if you go and destroy buildings, we cannot guarantee there will not be bloodshed so some people were scared.” After sunset, Irina went home. In the morning, she heard that many young people who stayed on the streets were arrested. Irina decided not to go out the next day or afterwards because of the fear of surveillance and manipulation: Other politicians said to stop coming because there would be people there trained to manipulate the crowd and make the opposition look bad. The opposition parties and youth organizations said not to go out. It was dangerous to go out on the street because there were secret police in civilian clothing – you never knew who was around you. 17
Irina’s view on the impact of the events were cautiously optimistic: It lowered the popularity of the communist party very much. They could not elect a president so a re-election had to be called where they lost the majority. The [political] fight now is very cruel. The democratic parties need to mature and the communists are taking advantage. I am worried about the upcoming local elections in Chisinau. When asked about the label, “Twitter Revolution,” Irina was positive. “For me, it was very real. We had an acronym or hashtag: #pman…people were updating from a café or shop.” When asked about other participants in the #pman discussion on Twitter, Irina replied that she felt there were locals but also many Moldovans from the diaspora were participating. Survey Results Survey respondents, who were physically present in the Square, were young. The oldest respondent is 23 making her age at the time of the events 21. Most respondents identified themselves as Moldovan while one described herself as Romanian. Whether this was an ethnic or national description is unknown. When asked what the native language was of the participant, the majority answered Romanian with a small minority claiming Russian. The majority of respondents heard about the event through social networks, especially Facebook and Odnoklassniki.ru. One respondent said he heard from a classmate at his university. Motivation: All survey respondents stated their motivation for attending the event as being linked to a wish to express their grievances towards the Moldovan Communist Party in power. For many, it was the first time participating in a political event and most described themselves as politically inactive. “A wish to change the regime and demand better living standards in Moldova.” “Discontent over election results. I am young and communism should remain a disease of the last century.” Description of Participation: Some respondents were terse in their description of events. One simply stated, “revolution.” Others gave a more detailed account:
April 6th was very peaceful and beautiful. It was like an intimate gathering. I met many friends and acquaintances. We talked together, we lit candles; it was very nice. On April 7th, I was near the Parliament. Opposition leaders had come and we were urged to follow them to the National Assembly Square where there was some audio equipment. Soon after we began making our way, my mother called and told me that some people were destroying the parliamentary building and she was worried about me. I went to her place of work in the center to show her I was okay. After that, I went home and watched TV, horrified by what was going on. I could not believe that people were manipulated by the agitators and started destroying everything in their path. When I saw those young policemen, my heart broke with pity. The following days…terror…at the University, they collected data on students who were absent. Many students disappeared. I feared for my future and my friends and I couldn’t access social networks. Another respondent described the events on April 7th as also taking a turn for the worse due to the action of some provocateurs: On April 7th, there was a huge crowd of people, mostly students, who wanted at most a change in leadership, like the opposition parties such as: The Liberal Party, the Liberal Democratic Party. The opposition politicians tried to speak and make the young people understand what they wanted from this event. However, at the initiative of other young men, with their faces hidden, almost everyone there began to destroy state buildings, the Presidency and the Parliament. Social Media: For most respondents, the impact of social media was in informing them of the events: “Facebook – informed me about the event and made me determined to participate” “They helped me to see and tell others about the event and create my own conclusions.” “With the help of Facebook and Odnoklassniki, the youth called others to come out to the Great National Assembly Square, including mobile networks like Orange, Moldcell. These all were down after a certain time, when a lot of people had gathered in the Square.” What changed? Most respondents expressed a mixed view of the outcome: “The events showed that people aren’t happy, but regime change has not led to the changes that were expected.” “The Communists lost power! Though a political crisis continues to persist.”
“I don’t think anything changed actually…” “The events made possible Moldova stepping into a new political era, oriented towards Europe.” “The events created a bad image about Moldova in the world, and all because the desired outcome wasn’t met, a peaceful movement against the PCRM.” Some respondents described a more personal impact: “I arrived at the conclusion that the media in our country is directly subordinate to those in charge and it doesn’t always reveal the truth.” “This event prompted me to fight for what I truly believe.” Twitter Revolution? Respondents in general disagreed with the label “Twitter Revolution” calling it “false” or “incorrect.” One stated that only a very few used Twitter as an information tool: “None of my friends were informed *about the events+ through Twitter.”
Summary of Responses
Though a small sample of the estimated 30,000 present during the April, 2009 events in the center of Chisinau, the interviews and questionnaire responses shed some light on the role of social networks and the motivation of participants. Prevalent themes among participant responses include: Importance of social media in hearing about the events Many participants mentioned hearing about the protest on Facebook or other social networks. These posts and links were cited more than once as providing strong motivation to go physically to the Square. Online social networks were also cited as important for keeping track of events. Anti-communist motivation Most participants cited a wish to express dissatisfaction with the election results and the ruling communist party. Interestingly, many claimed not to be politically active and that this was their first time to attend a political event. Internet down Many participants mention the internet outage that prevented access to independent media and social network sites. Mobile phones were also confirmed as being useless in the Square. Agitators, police in civilian clothing 20
Many respondents mentioned the theme of plain-clothes police and young agitators who started the violence and vandalism of state buildings. Some felt these young people were trying to make the “legitimate” protestors and opposition, who advocated a peaceful protest, look bad. Fear about authorities’ response Respondents expressed concern about the state’s response, especially after the news of arrests and beatings in the early morning of April 8th. Participants felt fearful to go back out after the arrests and warnings that instigators were on the street. Uncertainty about outcome Respondents had mixed opinions about the outcome of the events. Though some expressed enthusiasm that the Communist Party of Moldova lost its majority at the next election, many were disappointed that there was not a more dramatic change towards political and economic stability.
Over 5 days (April 7 to April 12), 32,107 tweets with the #pman hashtag were generated from 1,979 unique users to organize, discuss, and promote the events in Moldova.16 Each user posted an average of 6 tweets on April 7th and by April 12th, a smaller set of users posted an average of 15 tweets. Though no geographic data is associated with the Tweets, the language of the majority is Romanian with English coming in a distant second. As Russian is a popular language in Moldova, the small number of tweets in Russian indicates the network of people involved in the #pman content are primarily Romanian speakers. In the Appendix, a series of Word Clouds show the most common terms used in the #pman Twitter discussion each day. Romanian remains dominant throughout the discussion, indicating, as Ethan Zuckerman points out in his blog, that the conversation stayed focused on the events in Chisinau rather than shifting to an English-dominated discussion about the wonders of Twitter. Dominant URLs posted to #pman link to Romanian language blogs describing the event, opposition party Web sites, Romanian streaming TV, Romanian news stories about the event, and Youtube videos uploaded by those present in the Square. Clearly, the #pman Twitter content was produced by and written for Romanian-speakers. The paucity of Twitter users stating their location as being in Moldova suggests that either the majority
I owe access to the #pman tweets and preliminary analysis to Ethan Zuckerman from the Berkman Center: http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2009/04/09/unpacking-the-twitter-revolution-in-moldova/
of users active on #pman are Romanian nationals or that the Moldovan diaspora (many of whom reside in Romania) was actively using Twitter to track and react to events in Moldova.
#pman Content Analysis
While only a fraction of the content, the tweets from the three users in the appendix 17 are indicative of #pman on April 7th. Many of the original tweets come from evisoft, Moscovici, and others that are in Chisinau but not always in the Square, where there was little Internet access and almost no cell phone coverage. Other users post “Retweets” of this original content to spread the information to their followers, thus gaining more interest in #pman.18 Tweets that are not direct or secondhand reports appear to be coming from those with access to Romanian television, which, in contrast to Moldovan state television, covered the events in detail. Once pictures, video, blogposts, and Web articles began appearing, links to this content began to take up an increasing majority of tweets. As with any partially anonymous Internet discussion, deliberate disinformation and provocative commentary is also in evidence. For example, user “gr” tweets: Russia's 4th army tanks, based in Tiraspol, are moving towards Chisinau. #Moldova #pman Moldavian navy choppers "engaged to restore order in the capital". Pictures coming soon. #moldova #pman As Moldova is a land-locked country with no navy, others quickly pointed out “gr” and others as posting fake information. On April 8th, the discussion begins to shift a little towards speculation about arrests and the state response, and warnings over agitators in the streets. In later days, some dissenters appear in the content maligning the protestors’ actions, generating heated debate. Though there are a few renewed calls for mobilizations, the crowds never reappear to the degree they did on April 6th and 7th. While it seems that Twitter could not have played much of a role on the ground organizing, the content does play a role in spreading the story throughout the globe. As more people joined the #pman discussion and tweeted using the #pman hashtag, the #pman network grew rapidly. The rise of #pman to the top of Twitter’s trending topics, closely followed by journalists and techies, also contributed to the attention. Indeed, if just a minority of the #pman tweeters had a healthy following, it wouldn’t have
17 Appendix, #pman Content 18 Retweets make up approximately 25% of tweets on April 7th
taken long for all Moldovans living abroad who use Twitter or Facebook (which can be integrated with Twitter to post Tweets) to have become aware of the events.
Summary so far
The foregoing leads back to the question – was this a Twitter revolution? It’s important to avoid the pitfall of technological determinism. The story that reads, “Tweets were sent, revolution happened” may appeal in its simplicity but history warns us against such accounts. One possibility is that Twitter and other social media didn’t mean much at all but were merely a sideshow in a typical political protest. According to this view, the “Twitter Revolution” was just media hype. As Vitalie Esanu stated in his blog post, “Twitter Revolution sounds cool and journalists love to be on the cutting edge of the next big thing.” On the other hand, participant responses and the #pman content suggests that social media did have a powerful role, both in mobilizing people in Moldova to physically go to the Square and in capturing international attention as first-hand accounts and news stories were amplified through these networks. Natalia Morar, one of the organizers of the original protest on April 6th, states: Twitter was used as a way of informing and keeping in touch with people who were interested and cared about what was happening in Moldova. By using Twitter, members of the Moldovan diaspora, many of whom live in Romania, were able to remotely participate in the protest simply by tweeting about it.19 Natalia hints at another interesting angle on the social media story. Twitter and other tools broadened the repertoire of contention by giving Moldovans abroad the ability to participate virtually in the events, confirming Earl and Kimports’ theory that taking advantage of the technological affordances of the Web can lead to qualitative changes in political activism. The real power of Twitter in the Moldovan context could be the ability of expatriates and others around the world to follow the events in real time, raising awareness of the protests and pushing Moldovans abroad to go out and vote at the next parliamentary elections. In order to have a more complete picture of the April, 2009 events, Part 2 will look beyond the “Twitter Revolution” headlines at the issues driving Moldovan politics to try to come to some understanding of the grievances that led so many to come out in opposition to the Communist Party’s election victory.
Part 2 – Moldova’s Identity Issues
According to popular legend, the name "Moldova" derives from the adventures of Dragos, a semimythical Transylvanian prince who wandered into the lands east of the Carpathian mountains in 1359. When Dragos's hunting party came upon a wild ox in a mountain stream, his favorite hunting hound, Molda, gave chase to the beast and drowned in the ensuing melee. In memory of the event, Dragos named the river "Molda" and took the ox's head as his seal; after exploring the area beyond the Carpathians, Dragos would again remember the hound and give the name "Moldova" to the principality which he established in the region. From such inauspicious beginnings, the Principality of Moldova emerged in the fifteenth century as one of Eastern Europe's major powers (King, 1994).
The territory of Moldova (Moldavia) is a historical borderland. Located on the periphery of Europe, Moldova today signifies two separate political units, one the region of Moldova in eastern Romania, and the other the Republic of Moldova between the Prut and Nistru rivers. Both share a common history and culture, tracing their origins to the medieval principality of Moldova. Together until 1812, the territories were separated when the present day Republic of Moldova was annexed by the Russian Empire and renamed Bessarabia. Reunited for a brief time between 1918 to 1940 and from 1941 to 1944 during a period of great upheaval, both territories have generally been led on divergent paths with the area west of the Prut uniting with Romania and Bessarabia undergoing prolonged bouts of russification that continued through its time as a soviet republic. Thus Bessarabia, which forms the core of the modern Republic of Moldova, was excluded from the political and social processes that formed the modern Romanian nation-state (Lewis, 2004).The figure above, representing all the territories once collectively called Moldova, shows the present-day Republic of Moldova shaded green.
After Bessarabia’s incorporation into Romania in 1918, it remained a point of contention between Bucharest and Moscow. Never fully recognized by either the western powers or the Bolsheviks, conflict over the region resulted in a breakdown in Romanian-Soviet negotiations in 1924. The Soviets then established a "Moldovan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic"(MASSR) on the eastern bank of the Nistru River inside Ukraine. The MASSR served as a ‘bridgehead of Soviet influence’ in Bessarabia. According to Soviet propagandists, the de jure western border of the MASSR was the Prut River, thus including all of Romanian "occupied Bessarabia" in the autonomous republic. The existence of the MASSR was used by the Soviets as evidence of the fact that, far from being part of a single panRomanian nation, Moldovans and Romanians actually formed two wholly separate ethnic groups speaking separate east-Romance languages (King, 1994). In June 1940 the Soviet Union forcibly annexed Bessarabia and merged portions of the territory with part of the existing MASSR, the strip of land east of the Nistru known today as "Transnistria." In the new Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic (MSSR), Soviet policy focused on creating barriers between the Moldovans and the Romanians west of the Prut River. Famines and forced deportations in the 1940s, "voluntary" relocation of Moldovans in the 1950s and 1960s, and the in-migration of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians altered the demographic landscape, resulting in a republic more "Soviet" than Romanian. The Cyrillic script, replaced with Latin after 1918, was reintroduced in 1941. Soviet historians discovered ancient links between the Moldovans and the other nations of the USSR. Soviet linguists stressed the fundamental differences between the Moldovan and Romanian languages, views rejected by scholars outside the USSR (King, 2000). These demographic changes exacerbated a migration that began in Tsarist Russia of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians into Chisinau and other urban centers. This resulted in a dominance of the Russian language in politics, economics, education, and Soviet modernization efforts in general. Urban Moldovans today still tend to adopt a Russian linguistic and national identity. The rural population, in contrast, has tended to maintain its traditional identity, a mixture of ancient Moldovan culture and its younger Soviet extension. Others, both urban and rural, hold onto a suppressed Romanian-identity (Ciscel, 2007).This pattern had an outsize effect on the long political struggle for independence, characterized as a battle between those with a pro-Russian Moldovan identity and those with a pro-Western Romanian identity.
Republic of Moldova
In the late 1980s as Gorbachev began changing the political climate in the USSR with glasnost and perestroika, an upsurge in nationalist movements led to instability throughout the Soviet system. The Baltic States and others that had prior experience of independent statehood experienced the strongest nationalist sentiments, as did heavily urbanized republics like the Ukraine, Armenia, and Georgia who experienced less russification. Moldova and other republics where the titular nationality was primarily rural had a less intense and later-budding national movement. Nonetheless, by 1988-89, a Moldovan Popular Front Movement had formed around Moldova’s cultural elite and young Romanian-speaking anti-communist intellectuals. Changes were rapid once begun. By January 1989, Romanian was declared the state language of the republic (authorities recognized that Moldovan and Romanian were not distinct languages as claimed by the Soviets). Included in the 1989 “language laws,” the Latin alphabet was also reintroduced. According to Charles King, an expert on the region, the language laws were the first sign of political fracturing both within the Popular Front and between the Romanian-identifying intellectuals and the rest of the population:
For many ethnic Moldovan/Romanian intellectuals, the adoption of the language laws represented a historical affirmation of the "true identity" of Moldova's majority. In the words of the Popular Front, "[T]he historic name of our people, which we have carried for centuries-a right to which chronicles and manuscripts, historical documents from the modern and contemporary periods, and classics of Marxismleninism testify – *is+ ROMANIAN and the name of our language THE ROMANIAN LANGUAGE.” (King, 1994)
The Popular Front began to distance itself from the government, claiming it was not moving swiftly enough to pull Moldova out of the Soviet Union, and began openly calling for union with Romania. Soon the Front transformed itself into a political party, claiming "The natural evolution in the last few years of the movement for national liberation could only culminate in embracing of the ideal of national unity and the restitution of the Unitary Romanian State...” Alarming Russians and other ethnic minorities in Moldova who saw little benefit in uniting with Romania, the Popular Front soon lost much of its support. In June, 1990, the Moldovan parliament declared sovereignty and by Spring 1991, the former communist party official, now pro-independence Mircea Snegur, was elected head of state. Moldova declared independence on August 27, 1991 (Lewis, 2004).
Moldovans or Romanians: A National Identity Crisis
After the initial euphoria of Independence, it soon became clear that the newly formed Republic of Moldova had many challenges to face. First in line was to resolve the national identity and language
questions that were plaguing political dialogue and preventing needed reforms. Due to its history as a borderland between empires and the trading back and forth between Russia and Romania, Moldova has a fairly diverse populace. The last Soviet census data from 1989 shows the following: Moldovans Ukranians Russians Gagauz Bulgarians Jews Roma 64.5% 13.8% 13.0% 3.5% 2.0% 1.5% 0.3%
During the Soviet era, almost all of the population gained at least partial fluency in Russian, especially the urban dwelling elite. Russian was seen as a more cosmopolitan language used for interethnic communication throughout the USSR. After the language laws were passed and the radicalization of the pro-Romanian movement became apparent to ethnic minorities, many of whom were more comfortable speaking Russian than Moldovan/Romanian, a counter movement began in the Russian-speaking areas of Transnistria (Pridnestrovie in Russian) and Gagauzia. These regional tensions have led to armed conflict and separatism in the case of Transnistria, a Russian-dominated sliver of the country east of the Nistru river, where an independent yet unrecognized Soviet-style republic continues to exist (with Russian support).20 Gagauz and Bulgarians have peacefully negotiated for a degree of autonomy. The overall result is a country experiencing a prolonged identity crisis (Ciscel, 2007).
The first major issue for the Russophones, as for the Moldovans, was the language law. Under that law, Moldovan was made the sole state language, raising its symbolic status above that of Russian. Moldovan was also to be the main business language. Finally-and most significantly for future developments-all political leaders, economic managers, service workers, and some others would, within five years, have to be bilingual. Separatist violence occurred because Russophone elites had much to gain, especially increased power and career opp ortunities for themselves, by pro moting it. They also had much to lose-their jobs, their influence, and their perquisites-if they submitted to the language law. Transnistrian elites therefore chose to challenge the authority of the Moldovan government: within weeks, city councils in the Transnistria region had voted to defy the language law, and Tiraspol, the future Transntrian capital, formally invited the others to joi n it in moving toward secession (Kaufman, 1996)
According to King, cleavages related to language and national identity created a significant obstacle to consolidation and in turn, to institutional stability and economic development (King, 2000). In response to PanRomanian intellectuals, movements began to coalesce around a pro-Russian “Moldovan” identity. This movement contained radical fringes that expressed a desire to move towards Moscow but it was centered in the newly formed Agrarian Democratic Party, largely former Communists of the agro-industrial elite. Stressing that Moldova should not become a mere region or province within Romania or Russia, many Agrarians maintained the Soviet view that Moldovans were ethnically separate from Romanians. By 1994, the political elite were divided among those in the pro-Romanian and pro-Moldovan camps. An inflection point occurred in an Agrarian campaign event that year when President Snegur both denied the possibility of political union with Romania (a reversal of his earlier position) and called the ideology of pan-Romanianism “betrayal.” He went on to accuse radical writers and historians of doubting "the legitimacy and historical foundation of our right to be a state, to call ourselves the Moldovan people." Later in the address, Snegur goes on to affirm the existence of a distinct Moldovan ethnos and spoke approvingly of the distinction between the Moldovan and Romanian languages:
There has been a lot of commotion about the language spoken by Moldovans in the Republic of Moldova. Of course, we have the same language as our brothers in Romania. But by the same token one cannot deny that there are certain nuances [to the Moldovan language] ... [I]n my opinion as an average speaker of this language, we cannot deny that our brother or our sister speaks a little bit differently from the way we do. The acceptance of this difference was characteristic throughout history and I do not know why we are doing all we can to forget it now… (quoted in (King, 1994).
Snegur deftly staked out a position between the radical pan-Romanianists and the fringe pro-Russian movements. Charles King characterized the speech as a smart political move but one that could have potentially dangerous consequences:
With the former pulling Moldova towards Bucharest and the latter towards Moscow, an indigenous "Moldovanism" seems the only recourse for a government committed to maintaining its own independence. For Snegur in particular, cultivating an indigenous Moldovan nationalism will yield
favorable results in the next presidential elections, when his most likely opponent will be the present parliamentary speaker, Petru Lucinschi; both Snegur and Lucinschi were born in Moldova, but the latter spent much of his political career outside the republic and will thus be vulnerable to attacks from the "native son" incumbent. The "Moldovanist" conception of national identity, however, places the president in a double-bind: not only does it further alienate the pan-Romanianist intelligentsia, who now promise to keep the contentious issue of national identity at the forefront of political discourse, but it also threatens to undermine the non-ethnic, civic basis for statehood which is essential to avoiding further inter- ethnic conflict. For the past four years, Snegur and other top Moldovan officials have worked to stress the civic, multi-ethnic character of the Moldovan state as a way of allaying the fears of the minority populations that the ultimate end of Moldovan independence is union with Romania.
The 1994 election proved a turning point in the national identity crisis. Though it didn’t end the ethnolinguistic tension, the government seemed to embark on a path to create a decidedly civic and multi-ethnic state. This surprised Western observers who were certain the Romanian unification was inevitable due to the close cultural relationship and the pro-Romanian character of the independence movement (Cash, 2007).
Identity and Language in Moldova
From the proceeding review of Moldovan history, the complexity of identity within this tiny country is apparent. Summing up, the Soviet era theory of ‘‘Moldovanism’’ emphasized that the languages were distinct, and therefore, Moldovan was a distinct identity separate from Romanian (King, 2000). Contemporary Moldovanism recognizes that the two languages are not distinct; however, the similarity in the languages does not mean that there is not a separate Moldovan identity. Regarding language, Article 13 of the 1994 Constitution reads:
1. The national language of the Republic of Moldova is Moldovan, and its writing is based on the Latin alphabet. 2. The Moldovan State acknowledges and protects the right to preserve, develop, and use the Russian language and other languages spoken within the national territory of the country. 3. The State will encourage and promote studies of foreign languages enjoying widespread international usage. 21 4. The use of languages in the territory of the Repubic of Moldova will be established by organic law.
Why did language become such a contentious issue and important identity marker in Moldova? Partly, this can be explained through elite competition. Political posturing by elites on both the pro-Romanian and pro-Russian sides led to ideological arguments about the links between ethnicity, language, and culture. Whether blaming Soviet denationalization efforts or Romanian meddling in sovereign affairs, political and cultural elites in Moldova impeded the consolidation of Moldovan identity based on multiethnicity and multilingualism (Ciscel, 2007). Luckily, reformed communists were forced to articulate a
The Constitution of the Republic of Moldova as found in English on http://www.president.md/const.php?page=8100&lang=eng
platform of ethnic moderation to displace competitors from power and prevent an escalation of ethnic conflict.
The positive reception of the ethnic moderates' campaign message depended upon the generally weak support accorded to ethnic extremists and generally benign attitudes toward the members of other ethnic groups. It also relied upon the existence of other, non-ethnic concerns within the population, which made possible alternative appeals that cut across majority/minority boundaries (Crowther, 1998).
Throughout the 90s, language continued to play an important role in identity and politics. Charles King writes “Moldova *remains+, even a decade after independence, the only country in Eastern Europe in which major disputes existed among political and cultural elites over the fundamentals of national identity.” A significant segment of the titular nation and the titular political elite continues to question the very idea of separate statehood and a distinct Moldovan identity, advocating instead the option of unification with Romania. He writes further that “there is no distinct literature, no separate language… yet, most Moldovans feel themselves to be something other than simply Romanians” (King, 2000).
Post-Soviet Identity Shift
In David Laitin’s Book, Identity in Formation: the Russian-speaking populations in the near abroad, he lays out a modern theory of identity that is diametrically opposed to the primordialist views of 20th century figures like Stalin. In the academic literature, this view is termed constructivism:
The notion of constructing an identity is modern. Although the ancients raised identity issues, it was not until the nineteenth century, with Nietzche and Hegel, that social theorists began considering the transformation of identities and the emergence of new identity categories. Walt Whitman articulated the revolutionary idea that each individual has within him- or herself a nearly infinite set of identity possibilities. George Katec suggests that this idea is quintessential to the democratic age (Laitin, 1998).
This view of a constructed and therefore malleable social identity (label that a person assigns him or herself) entails the possibility of what Laitin calls identity shift. Social identities are distinct from personal identities. They are constructed from available categories that both divide and unite people in a society. These include national identities, ethnic identities, religious identities, class identities, and in the case of Moldova, linguistic identities. According to Laitin, issues of social identity only become part of public discourse when the categories themselves become fuzzy. At such times, “Self-appointed boundarykeepers arise to redefine these categories so that rules of inclusion and exclusion, as well as the behavioral implications of belonging to this or that category, can be clarified” (Laitin, 1998).
Just as a personal identity crisis can lead an individual to seek out stable identity categories to cling to, a national identity crisis forces individuals to seek out stable social identities. Laitin quotes Erikson, a psychoanalyst and identity-theorist:
identity formation *as+ a process…by which the individual judges himself in the light of what he perceives to be the way in which others judge him in comparison to themselves and to a typology significant to them; while he judges their way of judging him in the light of how he perceives himself in comparison to them and to types that have become relevant to him.
Identity is given in the sense that we have little choice in our upbringing – families, communities, schools, and the “possibilities of an age” all define identity. Yet, identity is adjustable. In early adulthood especially, youth try on different identities to see how they feel before adopting one permanently. In this sense, Laitin sees common ground between primordialist and constuctivist view on identity. Identity shift can occur when exogenous events like the fall of the Soviet Union prompt individuals to question their social identities. Particular to the Moldovan case, Laitin discusses when conflict between identities becomes unavoidable:
Multiple identities can coexist within a person only insofar as choice is not necessary. Yet when actions or behaviors consistent with one identity conflict with those of another identity held by the same person, as they do when the two identities represent antagonistic groups on the political stage, people are compelled to give priority to one identity over the other (Laitin, 1998).
Before the independence movement, many ordinary Moldovans may not have thought much about their national or ethnic identity. Whether a Russian-speaker, a Moldovan/Romanian-speaker, or bilingual, Moldovans were unlikely to identify based on language alone. But with independence and concurrent elite conflict over the linguistic/national identity of “Moldovans,” people were forced to choose between competing identities, a European-based Romanian-leaning identity or a Moldovanbased, Russian-leaning identity. Laitin argues that “in the modern age, national projects have usually involved the reinsertion of a folk language as part of the core identity of people who are descendants of speakers of that language, most of who rely principally on a more cosmopolitan state language.” Russian was the cosmopolitan language of the Soviet Union. When nationalists threatened its status during the independence movement, many Russian-speakers found themselves identifying based on their opposition to state-imposed Romanian. Laitin writes of two issues relevant to identity in nationalist politics:
Nationalist politics involve two interrelated identity issues. First is the issue of a “national revival” in a relatively homogeneous region in a culturally heterogeneous state….A second issue in nationalist politics
involves the “assimilation” of members of minority groups, or immigrants, into the new national culture. In both national revivals and assimilation cascades, there are political pressures to alter one’s identity.
Though Moldovan was the national language and increasingly important during the Soviet period, Russian always retained its status as the language of wealth and power in the state. A reversal of fortunes that replaced Russian primacy with a new Latin-based Romanian (as opposed to Cyrillic Moldovan) must have been a fearful idea for Russian speakers, especially for the many ethnic Russians in present day Transnistria who maintained Russian as their primary language throughout the Soviet period. Matthew Ciscel, a linguist and researcher builds on Laitin’s theory as they pertain to Russians in Moldova:
Before perestroika, a person of Russian ethnic origin could easily feel at home in Moldova and even identify herself as Moldovan. But, as the Romanian Moldovans began to press for independence and greater ethnic differentiation, the ethnic Russians would one by one decide that their Russian character was at risk in the new environment. Eventually this would reach a tipping point and a cascade of ethnic Russians in Moldova would no longer feel at home, nor would they identity as Moldovans.
The national movement and 1989 language laws were the exogenous event that sent the Russianspeaking minorities into a process of what Laitin calls identity shift. No longer were they simply Moldovans who spoke Russian, they were Russian-speakers with much to lose if the nascent country decided to unite with Romania. Some scholars have argued that in such a case where language use and social status are inextricably meshed, political tension over language policy is especially susceptible to identity-based conflict (Ciscel, 2007).
Communist Party Comeback: The 2001 Election
Outlawed from 1991 until 1994, the discredited but reformed Communist Party saw its popularity soar from 10% voter support in the 1996 presidential election to 50% in the 2001 parliamentary election when it returned to power. Peculiarities in Moldovan electoral law translated this 50% support at the polls into a 70% share of the seats in parliament, an overwhelming majority (Pepper, 2001). A combination of factors might help explain the unprecedented free and democratic election of a Communist Party. I will focus on three: Economics, Russian/minority acculturation fears, and the sophisticated campaigning of the PCRM.
The first and possibly most important factor that contributed to the rapid rise of the Communist Party’s popularity was “the total pauperization of the population.” Accompanying the crises of ethno-linguistic 32
identity following independence was severe economic malaise. Moldova’s economy did not improve during the transition years and the conditions for economic growth were not created. Instead, real GDP in 1999 shrank to 33.7 percent of the 1990 level (Barbarosie, 2001). As the Wall Street Journal put it, "Moldova’s improvised, political and managerial classes failed to pursue market reforms with any consistency. That failure led to economic collapse and general pauperization, which the electorate perceived to be consequences of market economics, not of the absence thereof." On top of Moldova’s bungled reform attempts, the Russian financial crisis of 1998 hit the country hard. The collapse of the Russian Ruble, in which many Moldovans had trusted their savings, devastated the economy. At the time, Russia and other former Soviet Republics accounted for 75% of Moldova’s exports and provided 78% of its imports (King, 2000). The Moldovan Leu also lost much of its value. Many Moldovans conflated democracy with economic prosperity and were greatly disillusioned when this prosperity was not realized. The transition from a command economy to a free market economy was particularly difficult for older Moldovans. Prices rose sharply for food and other consumer goods, while salaries went unpaid, the value of pensions dwindled and the Moldovan currency plunged in value. Young educated Moldovans fled to neighboring countries seeking work and much higher salaries than they could hope for in Moldova (Pepper, 2001). Moldovans became increasingly dissatisfied with economic conditions and blamed the worsening situation on the political ineptness of successive “democratic governments,” which for many, especially the pensioners, created nostalgia for the economic security of Soviet times. For others, it created a desire for change even if it meant the return to power of self-proclaimed communists.
In his book Nationalism Reframed: Nationhood and the National Question in the New Europe, Rogers Brubaker described Stalin’s “nationalities planning” as institutionalized multinationality where the Soviet State “actively institutionalized the existence of multiple nations and nationalities as fundamental constituents of the state and its citizenry” on a sub-state rather than a state-wide level. The Soviet Union never defined the citizenry as a whole in national terms, although it did define the component parts of the citizenry in national terms. The intent was to “harness, contain, channel, and control the potentially disruptive political expression of nationality by creating national-territorial administrative
structures and by cultivating and co-opting, and (when they threatened to get out of line) repressing national elites” (Brubaker, 1996). Brubaker describes some of the problems resulting from the interrelated yet distinct and antagonistic nationalisms characteristic of post-Soviet states. He termed this relationship the “triadic nexus.” The triadic nexus consists of nationalizing nationalisms, transborder or homeland nationalisms, and national minorities. “Nationalizing nationalisms involve claims made in the name of a ‘core nation’ or nationality, defined in ethnocultural terms, and sharply distinguished from the citizenry as a whole.” In Moldova’s case, this refers to ethnic Moldovans. Transborder or homeland nationalisms occur when a state asserts that it has the right or even the obligation to “monitor the condition, promote the welfare, support activities and institutions, assert the rights and protect the interests of their ethnonational kin” in another state and claims that these responsibilities transcend the boundaries of territory and citizenship. Russia has supported ethnic Russians in Moldova, especially in the breakaway region of Transnistria. National minorities (for example the ethnic Bulgarians or Gagauzi in Moldova) have their own nationalisms. These national minorities insist the state recognize their distinct ethnocultural nationality and claim collective, nationality-based cultural or political rights. The post-Soviet reorganization of political space has caused tens of millions of people to become residents and citizens of new states where they are considered as belonging to an ethnic nationality foreign to the new state. According to Brubaker, this is particularly difficult for Russians who were once a privileged national group throughout the Soviet Union but have been transformed into minorities of uncertain status in non-Russian nation-states (Brubaker, 1996). Following Brubaker’s argument, we can see how Russians in Moldova exist both within the category of transborder nationalisms and minority nationalisms. The Communist Party succeeded in part by gaining strong support from the Russian, Gagauzi, and other ethnic minorities. The image above shows Communist Party support by region in the April, 2009 election. The darker areas correspond to a larger percentage of the population voting for the PCRM. The southeast region (dominated by Gagauzi and 34
Bulgarian) and the northern Ukrainian-dominated areas strongly support the Communist Party. In addition to economic incentives, the Communist Party continues to campaign on themes that play on the fears of ethnic minorities, claiming that nationalist parties seek a “Moldova for the Moldovans.” This tactic was in evidence following the April, 2009 protests. State-run newspaper Moldova Suverana ran a piece equating both participants and the opposition parties with fascist Romanians retaking Chisinau in 1941.22
Communist Party Platform
Communists in Power – Order in the Country, Welfare in Families! was the slogan of the PCRM 2001 campaign. Listed priorities included strengthening the sovereignty and statehood of the Republic of Moldova, pursuing an economic course to revive the economy and provide work, stopping thievery and corruption, and promoting social justice and interethnic understanding. While maintaining a market economy, the PCRM promised to raise pensions and salaries for government workers, set price controls on essential products, and reinstate free medical care (Anderson, 2003). Soon after gaining power, the revived Communist Party began to act on its additional campaign promises to propagate the old Soviet policies of russification and Moldovan distinctiveness. In February of 2002, parliament brought Russian back as a mandatory subject in school curriculums. The government also issued reworked history books emphasizing the role of Russia and Russians in Moldova’s history over that of Romania (Ciscel, 2007). While Russian-speaking minorities were no doubt heartened by these moves, thousands of pro-Romanian protestors took to the streets of Chisinau to protest. Again, we see linguistic and ethnonationalist identities combining in Moldova to create division and tension. The pro-Russian character of the PCRM was also evidenced by its foreign policy. Drawing closer to Russia, the newly-elected president, Vladimir Voronin, rejected EU integration, calling it a “delirious idea.” He instead stated intentions for closer integration with the CIS region: "[T]he whole of Europe is uniting, while the former Soviet republics are divorcing.... That's not normal. We must unite, feed ourselves, and begin developing normally" (Ournet, February 26, 2001). Disputes with Russia over the Transnistria issue would later prompt a move away from Russia and towards Europe but the PCRM maintains a pro-Russian and anti-Romanian identity.
The overwhelming electoral victories of the Communists in 2001 and again in 2005 have reshaped the dispute between pro-Russian elites, determined to maintain Soviet era identities and more or less proWestern elites of the opposition. For the first decade of independence, any possibility of a Western orientation without reunification with Romania was rare in the elite competition. However, it is just this stance, characterized by both continual independence and gradual disengagement from Russian influence, which many Moldovans recognize as optimal (Ciscel, 2007). To sum up the Moldovan Communist Party’s popularity in the first decade of the 21st century: Moldovans experienced a deeply painful economic period during the 1990s that many attributed to corruption and mismanagement by nationalist, democratic parties. Most Moldovans don’t see themselves as Romanians. For better or worse, most Moldovans recognize the cultural and linguistic similarities but feel that a divergent historical experience has forged a unique Moldovan identity. Ethnic and linguistic minorities especially don’t sympathize with the pro-Romanian groups and were quick to vote for the PCRM when it played to their acculturation fears. The PCRM ran an effective and positive campaign that appealed to both minorities and everyday Moldovans who longed for a sense of social and economic stability.
Returning to the Present: The Communist Party until 2009
According to the PCRM’s platform, the party “struggles for the socialist development of Moldova with an ultimate goal to build a communist society.” However, starting in 2004, the PCRM has responded to outside pressures to modernize and in the last several years, has little to distinguish it from a typical European social democratic party. Even its ingrained pro-Russian, conservative orientation has undergone changes in rhetoric. Most Western observers see little “communist” about the PCRM. Even the Economist now labels it a “centre-right party” (Economist, 2009). Worries of a return to authoritarianism after the 2001 election were borne out as “Moldova's scores on democracy, electoral practices, civil society, independence of the media, and independence of the judiciary worsened,”23 according to Freedom House. But, since 2005, the downward spiral has stopped and the trend reversed as the Communist Party began making efforts to strengthen its partnership with both the United States and the European Union. All of these together signal an ideological transformation, marked by a
Freedom House Moldova Country Report: http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=47&nit=396&year=2006
preference to shed its “communist” heritage and a tendency to integrate post-Soviet Moldova in European institutions and structures.
The party hardly resembles communists of old: Its leaders have embraced free market economics and speak often of closer ties with the European Union. But they also have struck a chord among large portions of the population by combining a nostalgia for the past, a reputation as a guarantor for stability and a pinch of populist politics — by raising pensions every year, for example (though these increases do not keep pace with inflation) (Stern, 2009).
Many observers have little negative to say about the modern PCRM. It is described as a party of competent and professional technocrats, as compared to political amateurs in the opposition. It is the only party with a multi-ethnic electorate. Opposition parties have relied entirely on ethnic Moldovans with little attempt to reach out to “Russian-speaking voters.” The PCRM has actually lost ground in recent years with many Russian-speakers who view its Western-orientation as betrayal. To offset smaller pro-Russia parties (perhaps more aptly described as anti-EU parties), Voronin advertised the PCRM as Russian’s favored political party with photo-ops both with Putin and President Medvedev, popular figures among most Moldovans (Socor, 2009).
Why the Protest?
So why the anti-communist protest in April, 2009 when the PCRM again proved its popularity among the electorate? Was the “Twitter Revolution” simply a mass of young people yearning for change? In a poor country with few opportunities, many young Moldovan have become embittered by their limited options. The location of the protests, Chisinau, is the seat of the pro-Romanian intellectuals and over 70% of the city’s population is ethnically Moldovan/Romanian. Though the PCRM managed to win two mayoral elections in Chisinau (2005 and 2007), city politics has long been dominated by pro-Western voices who gain support from the young, educated, pro-European population in the city. For many, language and identity issues still resonate strongly. As the PCRM, described by some as more opportunist than communist, seemed to move back towards Russia in early 2009, the opposition and the independent Romanian-language media was quick to remind its supporters about the forced Russian-language learning and historical revisionism of the early 2000s. Having grown up after independence, most young adults in Moldova identify with a European worldview and see the communist party and its links to Russia as a regressive element.
The events on April 6-12, 2009 were likely a combination of disappointed expectations on the part of Chisinau’s young people, the perception of electoral fraud,24 and the language and identity issue combined with new internet communication technologies that helped facilitate collective action. Research into the motivations of participants shows that anti-communist sentiment and social media were important aspects of the mobilization. Identity was also discussed by participants. Valentina, for example, associated the PCRM with Russian speakers and the opposition parties with pro-Romania and pro-European attitudes. The response on the part of the authorities including intimidation, arrests and deaths following the event were damaging to the PCRM and Voronin in particular who was characterized as attempting to seize dictatorial power by the opposition. On his part, Voronin, backed by Russia, blamed the unrest on the EU and Romania in particular, expelling the Romanian ambassador and asserting that Romanians would need visas in the future to enter the country (“Moldova recount ‘confirms result’,” 2009).25
Opposition elites seemed unprepared for the April election protests but when they found their voice, they were quick to join with protestors in claiming electoral fraud. The recount, which verified the PCRM’s strong performance, was boycotted as it didn’t address the allegedly fraudulent voter lists. After two failed attempts to elect a new president, the PCRM-dominated parliament was forced to call new elections for July, 2009. 26 The new elections resulted in the PCRM losing its parliamentary majority to a coalition of opposition parties (AIE). Voronin stepped down as interim President in September, signaling to many the beginning of the end for the PCRM as Moldova’s dominant party. Subsequent elections in 2010 have resulted in more political deadlock as the AIE coalition now lacks the seats necessary to elect a president and the PCRM leadership is blocking calls for a constitutional change to return to a direct popular vote for the president. Mihai Ghimpu of the Liberal Party (member of the AIE coalition and unambiguous supporter of a common Romanian-Moldovan ethnic identity) continues to serve as acting president throughout the deadlock. The global financial crisis has exacerbated Moldova’s current political crisis. Moldova’s GDP dropped nearly 7% in 2009 while unemployment doubled.27 The current Prime Minister, Vladimir Filat, was quoted as saying “the country cannot take another round of
The investigative newspaper, Ziarul de Garda, published witness reports of “dead men voting” of voter lists containing the names of deceased voters as well as those not present in the country voting within their constituencies. Over 400,000 ballots were called into question by the report. 25 Relations normalized after Voronin left office in September, 2009. A new Romanian ambassador to Moldova was approved in February, 2010. 26 61 votes (a three-fifths majority) are required to elect a president. The PCRM held only 60 seats.
elections.” On February 8, 2011, Moldova’s Constitutional Court released the ruling coalition from having to elect a president in the near-term, allowing more time for the development of a long-term strategy.28 Marian Lupu Central to the AIE’s progress, Marian Lupu, a former Communist Party speaker of parliament, has taken inspiration from Mircea Snegur, Moldova’s first president who found a middle ground between proRomanian and pro-Russian groups. In June 2009 Lupu announced his departure from the Communist Party. Brought in immediately as head of the Moldovan Democratic Party, Lupu was placed first on its electoral list for the upcoming elections in July. In explaining the switch, Lupu expressed outrage at the human rights abuses following April's post-election protests. He claimed that the national interest could not be monopolized by a single party and used as an instrument of manipulation, dividing society into "patriots" and "betrayers" (Socor, 2009). A change in political rhetoric has accompanied Lupu’s transition:
Marian Lupu, a refugee from the Communist Party, who positions his Democratic Party as the socialdemocratic alternative has actively courted both Russian speakers in Moldova and Russian leaders in Moscow. Both the Liberal Democratic and Democratic parties have eschewed ethnic nationalism and the politics of language and, in doing so, remind Moldovans of their country’s longstanding multiethnic harmony: Romanian and Russian speakers, Ukrainians in the east, Gagauzian Turks in the south, and Soroka, with a sizable Roma (gypsy) population, nestled in the hills above the Nistru river, all coexisting peacefully (Rojansky, 2010).
In addition to not playing identity politics, Lupu is working with a young reformer named Shevchuk in Transnistria who has expressed hopes for a future with the rule of law in the separatist region, "where the powerful are just, the weak are protected and all have work."
The Communist Party’s loss of power and the political crisis that has followed has opened up new avenues for the understanding of Moldova’s politics and identity. Elites like Lupu appear more reluctant to play on people’s fears and are instead focusing on more pragmatic national priorities, still confused by the continuous pull between Russia and the European Union. Centrist politicians like Lupu and also current Prime Minister Filat are bringing hope to observers that the “Twitter Revolution” and
subsequent changes in the political landscape may bring “opportunity to help transform Moldova into an unqualified post-Soviet success story—proof that a prosperous, pluralistic, democratic state can exist in the space between East and West (Rojansky, 2010). Moldovan reality from the independence movement through the present is characterized by uncertainty about national and linguistic identity (Ciscel, 2007). As Charles King writes in his seminal work on the Moldovans, “how one imagines the Moldovans has never been a straightforward issue. In most periods in fact, the various projects for cultivating a sense of nationhood among them have turned out rather differently from how the designers had planned” (King, 2000). The Communist Party of the Republic of Moldova came to power in part, by playing on linguistic and ethnonational fears of both Russianspeaking Moldovans and ethnic minorities. It stayed in power by downplaying its original Russianidentity promotion and adapting to the changing political climate. Thanks to Moldovan youth empowered by social media, the PCRM is now back in the opposition. Anti-communist sentiment, lack of opportunity, and pro-European identity politics helped NGOs mobilize students and other young people to protest the April, 2009 election results and put the Alliance for European Coalition in power. Though a political stalemate continues, reformed politicians like Marian Lupu and the support of European partners leads some observers hopeful that Moldova will be able to overcome its historical divisions and emerge a stable, democratic state. Until then, young Moldovans have learned the power of social media-enabled protest to bring about political change and they will be watching.
The meaning of social media in protest can vary based on the political and social environment. A stable framework for analyzing the role of these emerging technologies in political action across countries has not yet emerged. One possibility for further research on the “Twitter Revolution” is Social Network Analysis. Social Network Analysis uses network theory to view social relationships as consisting of nodes and ties. The structure of a social network can be identified and analyzed by mapping the relationships (nodes and ties) in the network. The #pman content consists of Twitter users (nodes) with varying numbers of followers (ties). A map of this network could reveal the influence or authority of some users in driving the popularity of the #pman hashtag by looking at both the number of Tweets and how many followers they reached. This could lead to more directed interviews that isolated those with the most influence within the network. An important question in the Moldova Twitter Revolution context is the nationality of the users (Moldovans abroad or Romanians?). A social network analysis would also
facilitate the isolating of influential users to determine their geographic location at the time of the protests. In addition to network mapping of #pman Twitter users, a more comprehensive and random sampling of attitudes of participants on the ground would provide more data to support conclusions about motivations to participate.
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http://ecfr.eu/content/entry/commentary_an_eu_response_to_moldovas_twitter_revolution_popescu / Rheingold, H. (2003). Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution. Basic Books. Rojansky, M. (2010). Why Moldova Matters. Carnegie Commentary. Retrieved March 19, 2011, from http://www.carnegie.ru/publications/?fa=41467 Schwirtz, M. (2009, July 31). Communists Lose in Moldova Vote. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/31/world/europe/31moldova.html?em Serbanuta, C. (2009). Access of all and for how long. Shirky, C. (2009). Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (Reprint.). Penguin (Non-Classics). Socor, V. (2009, April). Ten Reasons Why the Communist Party Won Moldova’s Elections Again. The Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved March 19, 2011, from http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=34821 Stern, D. L. (2009). Moldova, where Lenin still stands. How the Communist Party has held on to Moldovans’ votes. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/europe/091007/moldova-communists-gagauzia Zuckerman, E. (2009, April). Unpacking “The Twitter Revolution” in Moldova. My heart’s in accra. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2009/04/09/unpacking-thetwitter-revolution-in-moldova/
To give a glimpse of the #pman content, below are selected Tweets from some of the more prolific users (tweeters) on April 7th in chronological order:
Evisoft (originator of #pman hashtag, located in Chisinau)
http://22.214.171.124:8000/listen.pls Listen directly to what’s happening in #pman A train with youth from Ungheni is coming to #pman RT Thousands of youth protest in Chisinau now. Throwing stones in Presidency building and fighting with police. #pman Filat urges anyone standing in front of the presidency and those employed by the state to not let the situation get out of control #pman RT: @BreakingNews: Reuters: Moldovan protesters hurl stones, smash windows of presidential building #pman On the way to #pman to take some live photo, facebook follow me A rumor circulates through the crowd that a girl has died in #pman in a taxi, going to the office to charge my iphone and upload pictures from #pman #pman organized over internet. Twitter, facebook, blogs rules! #pman tag has arrived as the most popular tag today on Twitter. My cool idea of this morning worked, now the whole world will know Starnet has sold out, closed tcp/ip. Many have accessed Moldova to see #pman RT #pman Dear Romanian television tells you live on TV that internet access was blocked in all of Moldova. Retweet this please #pman soon Voronin will accuse Twitter and Facebok of mixing in the internal affairs of the state of Moldova Those on stumbleupon, digg, reddit, delicious, make yourself public with #pman to popularize the event on other social networks http://neteffect.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/04/07/moldovas_twitter_revolution #pman #pman I sent an email to techcrunch to make public the revolution on twitter… #pman Voronin said this operation is well thought-out, well organized, and well paid for, LOL, he
knows nothing about social networking
Moscovici (Tweets posted in English, located in Chisinau)
Protesters are injured. The Presidency building is damaged and protesters get inside. Police prepares to fight back. Chisinau, Moldova #pman @valeriu Protesters enter the Presidency building through broken windows. Chisinau, Moldova #pman Leaders of the protesters together with opposition parties to form a team of negotiators to talk with the president. Chisinau, Moldova #pman Photos from anti-communist protests in Chisinau, Moldova http://www.unimedia.md/?mod=foto&id=3 #pman Police brings reinforcement to fight anti-communists protesters in Chisinau, Moldova. Protesters resist with stones. #pman Police retreats to regroup. Over 10 thousands protesters hold positions in front of the main official buildings in Chisinau, Moldova. #pman Presidency building is broken. The door is unlocked. Police uses gas to resist protesters. Chisinau, Moldova. #pman Political leaders will meet soon to discuss the situation. No state official came to talk to protesters. Chisinau, Moldova. #pman Video from anti-communist protests in Chisinau, Moldova http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9676ubIVwc #pman Protestors must use wet cloths to resist the teargas. Chisinau, Moldova #pman [translated from Romanian] Opposition leaders to gather in the main square. Protesters to move from official building to the main square. Chisinau, Moldova #pman Follow the anti-goverment protests in Moldova on Twitter - #pman Increasing international interest for anti-communist protests in Chisinau, Moldova #pman Protesters cannot communicate. Cell-phone connection is blocked in the main square in Chisinau, Moldova #pman Photo: Presidency building destroyed in Chisinau, Moldova http://www.unimedia.md/?mod=foto&id=3 #pman
RT29 @Limmonica: First European revolution on youtube. Chisinau Moldova. Digg it http://digg.com/d1o8VD #pman Moldovan students from Romania to protest in Chisinau but stopped at the border by Moldovan border-guards. Altercations at the border. #pman #pman is the acronym for Piata Marii Adunari Nationale, name of the central square in Chisinau, Moldova RT: @zerolab: spunetile protestatarilor sa-si acopere fetsele cu bandane si glugi pentru a nu fi persecutati ulterior #pman There are rumors army will be involved in 1-2 hours to resist anti-communists protesters in Chisinau, Moldova #pman Over 300 policemen behind the Gov building waiting to fight anti-communist protesters in Chisinau, Moldova #pman Protesters control the Presidency building in Chisinau, Moldova #pman Twitters request CNN to cover anti-communist protest in #Moldova #Chisinau #pman At least 20 protesters in hospital severely injured during anti-communist protests in Chisinau, Moldova #pman Police reinforces the Gov building. Protesters leave oficial buildings to move to main square in Chisinau, Moldova #pman Oposition leaders speak in front of the protesters. Pavlicenco sais protesters should take over the public TV #pman Anti-communist TV channels blocked in Moldova #pman Army strikes protesters in Chisinau, Moldova. Same say there are victims. #pman Local press reports army to open fire on anti-communist protesters in Chisinau, Moldova garda.com.md #pman Dramatic photos from anti-communist protest in Chisinau, Moldova - zzzop.wordpress.com #pman People in Moldova don't know about the anti-communist protests in capital. Public TV not covering the protest. Internet is down. #pman Romanian and EU flags on top of the Presidency building in Chisinau, Moldova #pman Pro-communist TV channels brain-wash the public in Moldova #pman Some Moldovan politicians blame youth NGOs to organize protests yesterday that emerged as violent
RT stands for “Retweet” or the reposting of a former tweet, usually by another user
today. #pman Moldovan public TV to show and blame protesters. #pman RT @vchiperi Deutsche Welle reports Voronin prepares "a special intervention" tonight against protesters in Chisinau, Moldova #pman Russia is "worried" about the anti-communist protest in Chisinau, Moldova #pman Protesters report first arrests. #pman Protesters report the Parliament meeting hall is burning. #pman Protesters peacefuly listen to speeches in the main square. #pman RT@SoacraMica Moldovan authorities to review election results. #pman Moldovan president blames opposition for anti-communist protests. He doesn't know youth used social media to gather for protests. #pman Presidency & Parliament buildings burning now in Chisinau, Moldova. Despite darkness protesters still in the main square. #pman Dark in Chishnau. Protesters report police dressed as civilians attack individual protesters. #pman Some private providers didn't stop access to internet, while the state providers did. #pman RT @andreigusan: The girl supposed dead by the Moldovan TV from smoke asphyxiation was saved by the paramedics. #pman Protesters report police attacks protesters in darkness. Severe fights between police and protesters now in Chisinau, Moldova. #pman It's getting calm now in Chisinau, Moldova. #pman Protesters going home. Everything is calm now in Chisinau, Moldova. #pman RT @vchiperi: gunshots (?) heard in the center of Chisinau, Moldova #pman Cable TV provider to shut down the transmissions of Romanian TV channels (ProTV and Realitatea) covering protests in Chisinau, Moldova #pman Some reports blank shots fired in Chisinau, Moldova to dismiss protesters #pman
Olyvine (Tweets posted in English)
The site of the television channel covering the protests in Moldova http://www.protv.md/ goes down. 47
#pman @valeriu Protesters enter the Presidency building through broken windows #pman #alegeri RT @valeriu: The police starts attacking the crowd of protesters #pman Leaders of the protesters together with opposition parties to form a team of negotiators to talk with the president. Chisinau, Moldova #pman RT @BreakingNews Reuters: Moldovan protesters hurl stones, smash windows of presidential building #pman #fb From http://www.jurnal.md/ picture of the law enforcement forces http://www.jurnal.md/thumb/1239097478_43894500-165x165.jpg #pman RT @valeriu Police, caught up by the protesters flees leaving behind shields, helmets, etc #pman Photo coverage of the protests: http://www.unimedia.md/?mod=news&id=10249 #pman Live stream of Internet radio station http://www.voceabasarabiei.net/ covering protests http://126.96.36.199:8000/listen.pls is down #pman RT Moscovici: Presidency building is broken. The door is unlocked. Police uses gas to resist protesters. Chisinau, Moldova. #pman RT @valeriu protesters advised to use face masks against tear gas and the other substances used by Police #pman RT: @tudordarie: Video coverage of Moldovan #pman protests http://unimedia.md/?mod=news&id=10249 (site appears down) RT @Moscovici: Video from anti-communist protests in Chisinau, Moldova http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9676ubIVwc #pman Advice to Moldovan media covering #pman to use YouTube instead of their own sites that all appear down Romanian TV covering the protests in Moldova http://tinyurl.com/c6ytyo with video of the siege of the Presidential building #pman RT @GeoAtreides: Al Jazeera: Violent protests after Moldova poll: http://twurl.nl/povfyi (expand) #pman RT @Moscovici Protesters cannot communicate. Cell-phone connection is blocked in the main square in Chisinau, Moldova #pman Video of the siege of the Presidency and crowd of protesters breaking in http://tinyurl.com/cy9sup #pman Rectification #pman does not yet work on flickr but here are the latest : 48
http://www.flickr.com/photos/84202503@N00/sets/72157616460787480/ All independent TV channels in Moldova have been blocked #pman Finally, protests in Moldovan appear in Google News' coverage http://tinyurl.com/dgzxqw #pman RT @HotNews_ro 14:15 (GMT+2) Protesters have broken into the office of the president Voronin #pman http://cli.gs/m4HqZm According to http://www.antena3.ro/ Romanian TV Channel a person and two policemen have been killed in Chisinau #pman RT @vchiperi: #pman moldovan internet providers (telemedia) are shutting down external channels, resisting huge traffic demands All hope is on Romanian media to cover the #pman protests for the outside world. All Moldovan independent info sites are down University rectors have been briefed to keep their students off the streets #pman After fellow students were not allowed to go back to Chisinau, Moldovan students gathered in Piata Universitatii (Bucuresti) #pman Protests have now been reported in Balti too, Moldova's second largest city #pman from @Ena_ RT @Moscovici Protesters are talking to soldiers trying to convince them not to atack the crowd. #pman RT @vchiperi: #pman video - An employee of the Special Forces lynched by the crowd http://stireazilei.md/c-0-147 http://twitpic.com/2yd0m - Photo of special police near the Presidency. #pman RT @Pionerul The police are moving towards the protesters from sfatul tarii street parallel to #pman trying to encircle them RT @kosmopolit: Radio warns parents not to take kids out as special forces are to intervene in #pman with 30.000 protestants From @IuliaNamashco: in #pman a grenade thrown by the police has torn apart one of the protester's leg RT @vchiperi: #pman State Moldovan TV starts broadcasting news bulletin, portraying a negative barbarian image of protesters RT @endofnow: #pman unimedia (Moldovan source of info) is back. Hosted internationally at http://unimedia.info/ The police is preparing to take over the Parliament. Right now, it is controlled by the participants at the protest. #pman RT @vchiperi: #pman police sends Moldova State TV staff home, reinforcing the building, expecting 49
storm RT @Moscovici (who is in Chisinau): Police reinforces the public TV. Journalists are sent home. Fights expected. #pman Via @kosmopolit: Marian Lupu (MD's PM) says situation is a "coup d'etat" attempts, accusing Romania & US to be behind the protests #pman Moldovan president Voronin is blaming Romania's and US' intervention in organizing #pman. He doesn't know about social media. via @evisoft Stop the useless commentary on #pman which is for reports from the Square and the latest news. A little respect! Translated from Romanian Radio Free Europe's coverage of the #pman protests http://tinyurl.com/d33b74 Un articol din Radio Europa Libera The #pman protesters, now calm have gathered & reorganized in Piata Marii Adunari Nationale the main square in front the Government building More great photos of #pman from Unimedia's reporters: http://unimedia.info/?mod=foto&id=2 According to http://www.jurnal.md/ more than 80 policemen have been injured during the #pman clashes From http://unimedia.info 21:58GMT+2 Fires still burning in a few offices of the Parliament building.Chairs being taken out #pman @Moscovici Still no internet in Moldova, except from cell phone providers. #pman Just spoken to my parents in Chisinau about #pman still no Internet or cable TV, only state television& NIT to watch who are not covering ... @depestetot You are not in Chisinau while @Moscovici is #pman STOP the spam and disinformation, check before RT @notdang confirms shots are been fired as we speak in #pman Rt @vchiperi: #pman - fire still visible in parliament building, more firemen machines brought to place Great article analyzing the twitter revolution happening on #pman from Nicu Popescu. http://tinyurl.com/analyz Will the EU respond? RT @bbcnews Moldova's president accuses neighbour Romania of stoking violence erupted in Chisinau on Tue http://tinyurl.com/coc39d #pman An article from the Irish Times http://tinyurl.com/ctbcl4 about #pman and its echoes in Ireland, where an estimated 6000 Moldovans live
Word Clouds representing top terms in #pman Twitter Content April 7 Chisinau Moldova RT Protesters Twitter Anti-communist Presidency Moscovici April 8 Moldova Chisinau Twitter Voronin RT Romania Revolution Protests
April 9 Moldova Chisinau Comunistii Voronin Vineri Romania Search Televiziunea April 10 Moldova Mixman2009 Chisinau Voronin Romania Search People Twitter
April 11 Moldova Chisinau Voronin Dinescu People Protest Romania Nordastelo April 12 Moldova Chisinau Revolutie Redkokane Blogspot Search Blogspot Voronin
Timeline of Events
6th of April - Flash-Mob
A group of civil society activists organized a Flash-Mob. It was planned that the participants would light a candle as a symbol of the death of communist power. The Flash-Mob was organized for only a small period of time. The organizers of the Flash-Mob planned for a maximum of 500 participants - the message was transmitted by internet, sms.
Participants gathered from all over. About 10,000 young people formed a pacifist protest in front of the Parliament and Presidency. The organizers kept participants calm and announced a real protest on 7th of April, starting at 10 am.
7th of April – Fights (#pman tag starts)
This day started with a lot of participants in front of the Government Building (near the Main Square of Chisinau). It seems to be a peaceful protest. At 11:00 am, the crowd moved in front of the Parliament and Presidency. It appeared that a lot if instigators (plain-clothes police?) were included near participants and a fight between the crowd and the police was imminent. (UPDATE 22:45, local time) The firemen have the situation under control.30 (UPDATE 22:05, local time) Vladimir Voronin asked for the help of the West to establish order in Moldova. This news comes from Interfax/Reuters. Voronin met on Tuesday evening with ambassadors in Chisinau (UPDATE 21:58, local time) A fire is burning in a few offices on the 1st floor and a few on the upper floors. Some chairs are being taken out of the House of Parliament. (UPDATE 21:53, local time) Both the police and firemen are staying in the back of the presidency and not acting. (UPDATE 21:51, local time) Two offices on the 5th floor are burning at the moment. It seems like we are talking about the same young provocateurs that were threatening the journalists not to film them. (UPDATE 21:46, local time) There are still people near the presidency and the parliament. There is a fire burning in one of the floors in the House of Parliament! (UPDATE 21:41, local time) Vlad Filat, president of Liberal Democrat Party: "The Communists want to change the discussion from fake elections to violent actions, because the police could not assure the public order." Dorin Chirtoacă, vice-president of the Liberal Party says that there were provocateurs among the young people that threw the first stones and made a peaceful action turn violent. (UPDATE 21:00, local time) Right now everything is quiet in PMAN. Tomorrow at 10 a.m., the protest will continue and will probably be monitored by opposing parties.
Daily timelines are in reverse chronological order. Most information is derived from the Moldovan independent news agency, UNIMEDIA
(UPDATE 20:17, local time) Check out two more photogalleries - Gallery 3, Gallery 2. ((UPDATE 20:09, local time) New Video: Protestors gathered and reorganized in the PMAN (Piata Marii Adunari Nationale), the main square in front of the Government building. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDu_-RQdprU (UPDATE 20:08, local time) EU's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana declared that the EU is concerned about the latest events in Chisinau and requested a stop to the violence. Ghenadii Ziuganov, one of the political leaders from Russia, declared that secret services from Western countries were involved in organizing the protest. (UPDATE 19:50, local time) The President, Vladimir Voronin, accuses opposition parties of preparing a coup. On the other hand, the opposition parties, Liberal Party, Liberal Democrat Party, Moldova Noastra Alliance, declared that the protesters have organized themselves through the internet (social networks, twitter, forums) and SMS. Also, at the meeting between the Communist and opposition Parties, Marian Lupu, former Parliamentary President, representing the Communist Party, has recognized that the opposition parties were not involved in organizing the protest. (UPDATE 19:32, local time) Today, students from "Hiperyon" Lyceam in Durlesti (a locality connected to Chisinau) were requested to provide letters if they missed their lessons. Most likely, these students participated in the protest. The Director of the Education Department from Buiucani, Chisinau requested the director of the Lyceum to lock the doors of the Lyceum during the lessons. (UPDATE 19:24, local time) Dorin Chirtoaca, vice-president of the Liberal Party, made a call to protesters for a peaceful protest. Vlad Filat, president of Liberal Democratic Party, requested the Central Election Commission refrain from publishing the final election results, until all the petitions for reevaluating the election results from opposing parties are examined. (UPDATE 19:19, local time) New Videos: The young people break cognac bottles from Voronin's office and throw documents out the windows http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOyUc2S9nEQ The police and the protesters throw stones at each other http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlMpXuqPOJc (UPDATE 19:19, local time) Opposition leaders - Serafim Urechean, Dorin Chirtoaca and Vlad Filat - have convinced some of the protestors to leave the Presidency and Parliament and go to the PMAN (Piata Marii Adunari Nationale), the main square in front of the Government building. Right now, in the PMAN, there are 15-20 thousand protesters. (UPDATE 19:06, local time) While 30,000 young people took over the Parliament and Presidency, the national television was broadcasting a concert. 55
(UPDATE 19:01, local time) Today, the internet has been blocked in Moldova. People from other countries could not visit sites hosted in Moldova. Also, Moldovan internet users did not have access to them. The situation persists right now. UNIMEDIA, one of the most visited news portal from Moldova, usually is accessible at http://unimedia.md, but the current server is down, so we relocated a part of the website on http://www.unimedia.info hosted outside of Moldova. (UPDATE 18:58, local time) Hundreds of young people protested today in Ungheni and Balti31 and supported the protest in Chisinau. They declared that the elections were fake. Also, some buses with Moldovan students in Romania wanting to participate in the Chisinau protest were not allowed to enter Moldova. (UPDATE 18:51, local time) The Civil Coalition for free and correct elections "Coalition 2009" considers parliamentary elections from Moldova on April 5, 2009 as not fully correct and even if we exclude the Transnistrian incidents, then we still cannot consider the elections to have been free and correct. (UPDATE 18:16, local time) New videos. Instigators took the Presidency 7 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0Bj0f2XOAs Instigators took the Presidency 6 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSk_qFoL7pY Instigators took the Presidency 5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7PSZ4v76GU (UPDATE 18:16, local time) The Communist Party has an agreement with opposition. 1. The opposition leaders will try to go to Parliament and convince the participants to stop the vandalism of the building. 2. The Communist Party assures a transparent check of the election results. Opposing parties do not identify themselves with the actual protest. They say the communist party has come to governance through a democratic process, so they should leave through the democratic process too. (UPDATE 18:16, local time) Hundreds of young people have found an abandoned truck for transporting policemen on one of the center streets. They have destroyed the truck and turned it around. (UPDATE 18:13, local time) The political leaders of the opposition party are trying to calm down the crowd. They said Moldova does not need violence and blood. We can achieve our goals of repeating elections by legal and pacifist means. The participants are very hard to control.
Second and third largest cities in Moldova
(UPDATE 18:09, local time) Dorin Chirtoaca, mayor of the Chisinau and vice-president of the opposition Liberal Party, is giving a speech in front of the participants right now. (UPDATE 18:07, local time) Opposition political leaders are now in a meeting with President Vladimir Voronin and Marin Lupu, former Parliamentary President and representative of Communist Party. The opposition requests to repeat the elections. (UPDATE 17:46, local time) The participants keep vandalizing the Parliament. They are taking out computers and paper. In the National Assembly, there are thousands of people. Opinion leaders are giving speeches trying to calm down the crowd. (UPDATE 17:37, local time) Take a look at some videos: Instigators took the Presidency 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wxj4WxOvRf0 Instigators took the Presidency 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URdlhoI5MFo Instigators took the Presidency 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnDcnccmyQw Slogans of the participants at the protest: "Voronin leave us" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ffzsg5nDZ0Q Some fights in front of presidency http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9676ubIVwc (UPDATE 17:34, local time) The police are preparing to take over the Parliament. Right now, it is controlled by the protest participants. (UPDATE 17:31, local time) The national television is covering the protest. They are trying to manipulate public opinion by showing only the opinions of those against the demonstrations. (UPDATE 17:27, local time) Take a look to a photo-gallery from the event. (UPDATE 17:16, local time) President Voronin begins his speech on national television. He says, he will find the organizers and they will be held responsible. (UPDATE 17:06, local time) In Moldova, all internet connections are down. Mass-media is blocked. Local television cannot broadcast. The national TV is broadcasting a silly dancing show.
8th of April - Arrests
President Voronin said on public television that they have recorded everyone who participated at protest and everybody will be punished. This day can be described as the "day of arrests". Young people, in bus stations, at schools and universities have been kidnapped by people in civilian uniform, and taken in unknown directions.
(UPDATE 22:16, April 8, local time) The Central Election Committee has published final elections results. The Communist Party has obtained 49.48% of the votes. This will assure them 59 or 60 seats. The president is elected with 61 seats. The Opposition party has the opportunity to block electing the new president. If this happens three times, Parliament will be dissolved and new elections will be organized. (UPDATE 22:12, April 8, local time) In PMAN there is a declaration transmited from hands to hands. Participants declare that the protests are uncolored (not political). Also, they request a Constitutional judgement of the President Vladimir Voronin.
1) We are many; we are young; we are united! We will go until the end! 2) You can no longer control us! 3) We are tired of binding a totalitarian regime; maintained by fear and terror! 4) Communism is guilty of the largest genocide in history! 5) We do not want to be lead by those who have murdered and deported our parents and grandparents! 6) We are asking for the resignation of president Voronin and the banning by law of the criminal communist party! 7) We do not want extreme solutions--we are asking for the judging of the president by Constitutional law! 8) We are not executing anyone's politics, and we have not been paid by anyone! 9) We do not have political colour--we are pure and transparent! 10) Down with the communist magnets who are sending us to work illegally [abroad in foreign countries without a work visa] and stealing our money from Western Union. 11) The luxury furniture and parquet from the Presidency and Parliament were bought from percentages from foreign exchange [now is charged a fee when converting currency]. 12) We do not want Italy, Portugal, or Spain! 13) We do not want Canada or Moscow! 14) We want to work and be paid in our country! 15) We want a state based on respect and confidence, not fear and blackmail. 16) Down with fear, Moldavians!
(UPDATE 21:44, April 8, local time) At this time, president Vladimir Voronin is holding a speech for 15 minutes on the national television during the main news broadcast in the country. He accuses Romania for trying to organize a "coup d'Etat." Also today, Vladimir Voronin had a meeting with universities rectors where he criticized them for letting students participate at the protest (at the end, rectors applauded). (UPDATE 20:04, April 8, local time) Iurie Ciocan, Central Election Committee secretary, has confirmed for UNIMEDIA that they have received the request for access to electoral lists from the Liberal Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Moldova Noastra Alliance. The Committee WILL offer opposition parties access to the lists.
(UPDATE 19:59, April 8, local time) The internet attack was also confirmed by Info-Prim Neo News Agency website. (UPDATE 19:57, April 8, local time) Today, http://unimedia.md was attacked today from IP's which belongs to secret services from Moldova. Take a look at this image: http://unimedia.md/sys/img/news/sis.jpg. http://unimedia.md is one of the most visited news sites in Moldova, written in Romanian. It is hosted in Moldova. http://unimedia.info is an english source about protest from Moldova and it is hosted in USA. (UPDATE 19:50, April 8, local time) After authorities declared Filip Teodorescu, Romanian ambassador, as persona non-grata in Moldova, Mihnea Constantinesc was proposed as the new ambassador. (UPDATE 19:23, April 8, local time) The crowd calms down. Protestors go back to their initial position. Some of the protestor representatives are in negotiations with police. (UPDATE 19:15, April 8, local time) The airport customs did not permit a correspondent of Radio Romania to enter Moldova at the international airport Chisinau. (UPDATE 19:12, April 8, local time) It seems like Facebook.com (one of the source for spreading information about the protest) was blocked by Moldtelecom, the main internet provider from Moldova where the Government is the main shareholder. (UPDATE 19:08, April 8, local time) Today, the Government adopted a decision to request visas from Romanian citizens trying to enter Moldova. The Visa regime will be applied from Thursday, 9 of April. (UPDATE 19:06, April 8, local time) Arrested protestors were beaten bloody by police, put in cars and taken in an unknown direction. (UPDATE 19:00, April 8, local time) The police started to arrest small groups of participants from the sides. Participants at the protest put pressure on the police to release them. (UPDATE 18:53, April 8, local time) The usual train route between Chisinau and Bucharest was interrupted today for an indefinite period, because of "technical" issues. (UPDATE 18:28, April 8, local time) Emma Nicholson, deputy of European Parliament, said in an interview to BBC related to faking elections: "The problem was that it was an OSCE report, and in the OSCE are, of course, the Russians, and their view was quite different, quite substantially different, for example from my own". She was an observer at the elections. Emma Nicholson also quoted: "When we stopped the count [...], at about 1 am, it looked like communist party was going to have 35%, and the opposition parties [...] - 40-45%". (UPDATE 18:14, April 8, local time) Today, in the back of Government was parked cars of secret 59
services, which had 2 different registration numbers, from Moldovan and Transnistrian authorities. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qCkRUCafm4
(UPDATE 17:55, April 8, local time) At this time, in PMAN, the situation is tense. One group of protesters, with their faces covered , call for violence and start to throw PET bottles at policemen. Other protesters are trying to stop the first group. (UPDATE 16:15, April 8, local time) Today the crowd is smaller and calmer. Right now in PMAN there are about 2000 young people. There are no political leaders, so the participants are trying to organize themselves. Community workers are cleaning up the Presidency and Parliament buildings. A lot of people are just walking around and taking photos of the burned Parliament. (UPDATE 16:11, April 8, local time) We added a new photo-gallery regarding todays protest. (UPDATE 13:19, April 8, local time) About 200 young people were arrested last night by police. (UPDATE 12:25, April 8, local time) About 4000 young people are now in the central square of Chisinau, protesting against the fake elections. (UPDATE 11:35, April 8, local time) The young people from Chisinau lyceums are not allowed to get in the street. (UPDATE 11:00, April 8, local time) About 1000 young people gathered in the central square of Chisinau. The police took control over the Presidency and Parliament this morning. The border with Romania was closed this morning. (UPDATE 01:00, local time) UNIMEDIA added the gallery #4 from night protest!
9th of April
On 9th of April appear the first proofs of Police involvement in the protest. There are a lot of questions that do not have any answers yet. Why were police on the roof when some participants at the protest hung EU and Romanian Flags? Why couldn’t the police defend Parliament and Presidency - were there too few police at the protest? Who were instigators and who guided them?
10th of April - Journalist attacks
After a journalist wrote about the mysterious presence of police on the roof of Parliament, attacks were directed at the journalist. In this day, a lot of journalist were expelled, arrested, questioned, others from Europe could not enter Moldova. The only journalists who have free access to Moldova are journalists
from Russia. They did not have any problem at customs.
11th of April - PMAN calm
PMAN was calm. Nothing was really happing. It seems everybody was afraid even to talk about the protest.
12th of April - Opposition Common Meeting
An assembly was held in PMAN where leaders of the opposition spoke. Approximately 5,000 participated. The peaceful meeting is over. Opposition leaders condemned the Communist Party for falsifying election lists, persecuting journalists, arresting and beating protestors, instigating violence and vandalism, and being more concerned about PCRM’s image than public safety.
Map of Protest Area
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