| 24 May 2024, Friday |

Moldovan president calls for tougher policing to tackle pro-Russia protests

Moldovan President Maia Sandu approved granting law enforcement new powers to crack down on public rallies on Tuesday, saying they were destabilizing the country and aimed at imposing a pro-Russian administration.

In recent weeks, thousands of people have gone to the streets and put-up tents outside parliament and Sandu’s mansion, demanding the resignation of Sandu’s pro-Western administration and expressing their outrage at growing prices.

Sandu asked government to amend legislation to give more powers to law enforcement agencies but did not specify what those powers would be.

“Betrayal of the motherland will be severely punished. Those who sow panic and want war will be punished according to the law,” Sandu said.

She said the protesters “promise Moscow to establish a government that will be loyal to Russia”.

Sandu defeated her Russian-backed rival to win the 2020 presidential election in Moldova, which borders Romania and Ukraine, and has pursued pro-Western policies, including pushing for membership of the European Union, that have put her at odds with Moscow.

In a simmering conflict over energy payments, she has criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while Russia has threatened to shut off gas supplies.

Sandu’s detractors argue that she should have negotiated a better gas agreement with Russia, Moldova’s principal supplier.

“We are doing everything we can to keep our country peaceful and stable,” Sandu stated. “But the strain on us is increasing by the day. There are increasing efforts to destabilize the situation and separate us.”

Russia has had peacekeeping forces stationed in Transdniestria since the early 1990s, when pro-Russian rebels wrested control of the province from Moldova.

  • Reuters