By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST/BUCHAREST/CHISINAU (BosNewsLife)– Romania is denying Moldovan accusations that it was involved in violent anti-government protests in Moldova, which left at least one woman dead and injured some 100 others. The denial came after Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin ordered the expulsion of Romania’s ambassador and the introduction of visa requirements for Moldova’s Western neighbor.
In remarks quoted by Russian media, Moldova’s President Vladimir Voronin accused Romania of being involved in violent protests against the ruling Communists, which included storming the parliament building and presidential offices in the capital, Chisinau.
Moldovan television said one woman died and some 100 people were injured in Tuesday’s clashes.
The violence followed massive demonstrations against alleged fraud in Sunday’s parliamentary elections in which the Communist Party claimed victory.
On Wednesday, activists accused authorities of refusing to recount the ballots. But the Central Election Commission said the opposition was welcome to submit proof of its allegations of vote-rigging, and added that an official count would be complete by next Sunday.
A Moldovan official told Russia Today television that anti-Communist demonstrators want to overthrow the government and reunite the nation with neighboring Romania.
Moldova’s president told Russian media that because of Romania’s “involvement in the protests,” the Romanian ambassador had been declared “persona non grata”.
Voronin was also quoted as saying that his country would require visas for Romanians and restrict cross-border travel. Romania, a European Union and NATO member, strongly denied any involvement in the protests. Its foreign ministry called Moldova’s accusations “a provocation”.
The EU’s executive branch, the European Commission, has expressed concern over the situation. A Commission spokeswoman, Christiane Hohmann, told reporters that EU officials are gathering in Chisinau to discuss the crisis.
“At this point in time, there is a meeting of the heads of [EU] delegations in Chisinau,” Hohmann said. “And the special EU representative for Moldova, Kalman Mizsei, is in Chisinau as well. And they decide on the [upcoming] proceedings. There has been no direct contact between the Commission and the Moldovan government at this point in time.”
She added that no invitation has been sent yet to Moldova’s government to attend a crucial summit in Prague next month, where the EU was to announce closer ties with six former Soviet states – including Moldova.
On Wednesday, Russia urged the EU to not only condemn the violence, but also to help prevent an alleged plot aimed at “undermining the democratic process and sovereignty” by forces who it said wanted to reunite the former Soviet state with Romania.
Moldova has close ethnic, cultural and linguistic ties with Romania. It was briefly part of Romania between First and Second World Wars.