Dozens arrested at protests against govt in Moldova | Protests News

Dozens arrested at protests against govt in Moldova | Protests News

About 4,500 people objecting to high prices gathered in the capital Chisinau to protest against President Maia Sandu.

Police in Moldova detained more than 50 people as thousands gathered to protest against pro-European President Maia Sandu.

About 4,500 protesters, protesting high prices, gathered in the capital Chisinau on Sunday, but police in riot gear set up roadblocks with buses to confine them to a remote district in government buildings.

Officials said 54 people were detained for public order offences. Several busloads of demonstrators were prevented from entering the capital.

The main force behind the protests is opposition politician Ilan Shor, an exiled businessman convicted of fraud in connection with a $1bn bank scandal.

“Why do Moldova’s Western partners support Maia Sandu, but close their eyes when people are kept away from the government to express their needs,” Marina Tauber, leader of Shor’s party, told the gathering. “Do you see this in other European countries?”

Andrei Spinu, head of Sandu’s administration, denounced Sunday’s rally as “not a protest. This is another attempt by Russia to destroy the situation in Moldova.

Officials have previously warned of possible organized unrest. Protest scuffles broke out in Chisinau as demonstrators gathered in front of parliament and tried to reach the seat of government several hundred meters away, but were stopped by police.

The slogan of the protest was “We ask the government to pay our bills”.

Participants spoke about high cost of living and blamed the government and President Sandu for not doing enough to help them or for not listening to their complaints.

People chanted, “Down with the dictatorship” and “Down with Maia Sandu”.

Moldovan police chief Viorel Cernauteanu earlier told reporters that officers had carried out a series of raids and detained seven people on suspicion of trying to cause serious disruption to the demonstrations.

Sandu was elected in a landslide in 2020 on a promise to clean up corruption and has since begun the long process of applying for European Union membership.

Organizers accused Sandu of trying to drag Moldova into war with Ukraine.

The rally followed weeks of competing warnings of impending unrest in Moldova, where missiles have repeatedly landed near its border with Ukraine during Russia’s year-long invasion of its neighbor.

Moldova accused Russia last month of plotting to overthrow Sanduwhile the United States pledged to support his government against destabilization.

The White House on Friday accused Russia of seeking to destabilize the Romanian-speaking country of 2.6 million people on the border with Ukraine to install a pro-Russian government.

The US said it had stepped up information sharing with Moldovan leaders “so they can better investigate” and “deter Russia’s plans”.

Moldova, once part of Russia’s sphere of influence, is now governed by authorities firmly committed to European integration.

However, Chisinau has to deal with the separatist region of Transnistria, where authorities on Thursday called on the United Nations to investigate a plan — blamed on Kyiv — to attack several high-ranking officials.

Ukraine’s SBU security service immediately denounced the allegations as a “provocation orchestrated by the Kremlin”.