The ransacking of Moldova’s parliament has drawn parallels with the unrest that followed disputed elections in Ukraine and Georgia.
It has laid bare a deep rift in the country between Communists and pro-Western groups, some of whom want to see reunification with Romania. Most of Moldova was part of Romania until it was annexed by Stalin’s USSR in 1945. The link remains strong. It is one of the poorest countries in Europe and Moldovan peasant farmers regularly cross the border to sell their goods in Romanian markets. It is a common scene on the country’s eastern frontiers too and reflects a dire economic situation that some analysts say fuelled the recent disturbances. Many have little choice but to leave. Tamara travels to Russia for work, leaving behind a distraught family. Her young daughter Katia said: “Mother has just left for Moscow, to work to support us. We have no father, so she has to leave us alone and go to work.” The other main source of dispute in Moldova is Transdniestria, where the pro-Russian community declared independence. It broke away from Moldova amid the collapse of the Soviet Union, fearing the country might merge with Romania. Relations between the country’s Communist leadership and Moscow cooled in 2005 after Moldova rejected a Russian-backed peace plan. But, for most, poverty is the big problem. While much of the focus on Moldova’s political crisis has been on the deep divisions within the country, analysts stress that economic factors are an equally important cause.