|Up to 30,000 people gathered to protest the result of Sunday’s election [Jurnal de Chisinau]|
Moldova’s president has ordered a ballot recount after mass protests and opposition accusations that the country’s recent parliamentary election was rigged.
Allegations against the government include using dead people’s names on electoral rolls, intimidation of journalists and the brutal treatment of protesters.
The expected Flower Revolution announced by youngsters for Friday morning in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital, has been postponed over allegations that the government would provoke them into a possible repetition of the violence that took place in the city on Tuesday.
Organisers say the authorities had been preparing to lure the demonstrators into entering the offices of government buildings in the city centre in order to justify the continuing violence used by Vladimir Voronin, the country’s president, to suppress any dissent.
They say this tactic was used by the authorities when between 100 and 200 people stormed the parliament and presidential offices earlier this week after up to 30,000 people gathered in the capital to protest against the result of Sunday’s election.
Instead, the organisers called on voters to report alleged abuses during the election, including using dead people’s names on electoral rolls, and to ignore provocations from what they say is a communist-orchestrated coup d’etat.
At least 200 people, many of them schoolchildren, have been arrested by the police since Tuesday’s mass demonstration
Some of those who have been released say the police have acted brutally and tortured the detainees.
Zinaida Grecianii, Moldova’s prime minister, warned on Thursday of her government’s determination to use force against protesters.
Appearing on national television, she branded the protesters as “bandits” and described the fraud allegations as lie, but refused to elaborate.
The accusations of vote rigging are shared by many independent media and opposition parties in Moldova, with gathering evidence of fraud by the communists prior to and during the April 5 election 2009.
Ziarul de Garda, an investigative newspaper, said that voter lists were full of names of people who had passed away.
On its website (www.garda.com.md), it published witness reports about “dead men voting”.
The newspaper said other irregularities showed that the lists included people who had moved elsewhere or were working abroad and yet had still voted in their original constituencies.
|Between 100 and 200 people stormed the parliament on Tuesday [Jurnal de Chisinau]|
Overall, nearly 200,000 vote ballots are considered fake.
This is the number of extra voters introduced in the lists for the 2009 parliamentary election.
Official statistics show that the country’s population, which was less than 4.1 million during the previous election four years ago, has declined by at least one fifth since then.
An estimated 300,000 to 900,000 people have emigrated or left the country for seasonable work.
Under these circumstances, Jurnal de Chisinau (www.jurnal.md), another newspaper critical of the government, pointed out that the real number of voters should have decreased, not increased.
Alliance for Our Moldova (AMN), one of the three main opposition parties, held an emergency news conference to complain that the electoral lists had not made been public by the authorities in spite of promises to do so.
AMN and its partner parties, the Liberal party and the Liberal-Democratic party, have also opened hotlines for voters’ complaints.
Before the election, none but the Communist party enjoyed access to public television, which remains the largest source of information for most Moldovans.
The pre-election debate on Moldova-1, the state-controlled television channel, was poorly managed and gained low ratings.
Even now, conditions for gathering information about alleged electoral fraud are not favourable for any media which are not affiliated to the Communist party or the government.
|Up to 30,000 people gathered in the capital to protest against the result of Sunday’s election|
Aneta Grosu, editor-in-chief of Ziarul de Garda, said: “We are collecting witness reports about the fraud. It is already clear that the election was stolen.
“Two of our reporters were stopped and intimidated in the street by men in civilian clothes and their tapes removed. Thanks God none was beaten – just kicked a few times.”
Such allegations are dismissed by the government and the Communist party who say that the opposition cannot accept the democratic defeat.
On Friday, Jurnal de Chisinau announced that Rodica Mahu, its editor-in-chief, had been taken from the street in daylight early in the morning by policemen in civilian clothes, virtually without explanation.
She was released in the afternoon and was told the reason for her detentions was “the collection of information that can be used to storm state institutions”.
Colleagues of Mahu, who is among the country’s leading investigative journalists, said the newspaper’s offices had also been searched by the police on Wednesday without a warrant from a judge.
Officers seized computers, tapes, discs, documents, and journalistic materials.
Film crew intimidated
In another incident, ProTV, a local independent station, said its film crew had been intimidated and forced by the police to hand over their tapes.
At least one Romanian journalist has been detained and many foreign journalists have been turned back at the country’s borders, without any plausible explanation.
On Wednesday, Oleg Brega, another journalist, was attacked by policemen in uniforms and civilian clothes.
|Police and security agents have been accused of inciting violence|
His home was searched the next day, again without a warrant.
Brega had filmed scenes which showed police officers and security agents participating in the vandalisation of the parliament and presidential buildings.
On Friday, Brega was called to the prosecutor-general’s office to testify against his brother Ghenadie Brega, who is accused of masterminding Tuesday’s ‘coup d’etat’.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Brega said the communists had won thanks to the vote of people who were no longer alive.
“But if they lived, they would certainly have voted against [the government],” he said.
“They would have turned round and round in their graves, if they were able to see this mess.”