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Friday, April 10, 2009

Romanian grapevine revolution

Foreign Minister details 'messianic' Moldova meddling

Moldova's coat of arms - the only difference
between Moldovan and Romanian flags

Months after snatching Serpent's Island from Ukraine, Romania’s Foreign Minister admitted that Romanians were involved in the protests that rocked neighbouring Moldova after elections last week. The poorest European republic’s “pro-European” communist party (PCRM) won a majority to the legislature it has dominated for the last eight years.

Mobilized via Internet, 10,000 mostly youth reportedly took to the streets of Chisinau to protest against the commies and their leader Vladimir Voronin, who has ruled Moldova as president since 2001. Some waved the flag of Romania (that is identical to that of Moldova sans coat-of-arms). Many went overboard and vandalized the parliament building (estimated $40 mln in damages) and presidential offices. Police reportedly detained 200 protesters. (Protests had subsided by week’s end, when “pro-European” communist Voronin, by now enjoying Russia’s support, announced an election recount.)

While lamenting Chisinau’s decision to cancel visa-free travel for Romanians, Romania’s top diplomat Cristian Diaconescu also publicly confirmed that Bucharest has been in the business of giving out passports to Molodovans. He accused Moldova of failing “to act according to the European pattern.”

Additional details about Romanian involvement in the protests, presumably done under the pretext of “getting Moldova closer to Europe” were revealed by Diaconescu during his April 9 press briefing in Bucharest:

“Starting with yesterday [April 8], the authorities in Chisinau carry out a methodical operation for the identification of the persons that participated in the manifestations that took place on 7 and 8 April, 2009. From the …General Prosecutor of the Republic of Moldova we understand that there are also foreign citizens among the 200 persons that are said to be arrested. We have also sent a notification and we are launching a firm and insisting call to the authorities of the Republic of Moldova to officially state the number of Romanian citizens arrested…”

“Thirdly… the internal situation of this State [Moldova] raises important issues regarding the safety of the Romanian citizens to whom we recommend to avoid the travels (sic) to this country. We know that this recommendation makes it difficult for the people with double citizenship, especially because the Orthodox Eastern (sic) is near. Unfortunately we have to make such a recommendation, following the actions and measures taken at Chisinau.”

“…we will continue to support the Republic of Moldova to get closer to the European Union. We consider that this action remains the best option for the citizens of the Republic of Moldova and for the consistency of the Romanian foreign policy during the last years.”

Diaconescu said that Romania has requested “solidarity” from the EU and NATO “to counteract the deviations from the standards of democracy and of the international law, which, at this moment, we think that it represents a sources (sic) of instability in the region were (sic) our country lies.”

Ukraine asked to extradite alleged riot financeers Gabriel Stati and Auren Marinescu, both detained in Odesa after the violent protests

Diaconescu's full April 9 press conference:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Stalins and Lenins under attack

Pottering loses something in translation as Regions, commies miffed

European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pottering addressed the Verkhovna Rada on Monday speaking in the local tongue to the delight of most of the narodni deputaty who initially clapped in approval when the conservative German politician uttered a sentence in transliterated Ukrainian.
But the white-haired Saxon began losing some of the crowd when he spoke about the democratic freedoms gained by the “Orange Revolution.” Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych may have been among those audibly grumbling disapproval at the mention of late December 2004, when he saw the presidency slip away to Western-backed Viktor Yushchenko. “Is there a problem? A problem with translation?” Pottering asked the restless Rada members.
The communists demonstratively did not clap or rise to honor the president of the European parliament after his speech: Pottering mentioned the Holodomor and lamented the fact that other countries in the region have not come to terms with their Stalinist past like Ukraine has. He put the Soviet Union’s communists in the same league with Germany’s national socialists, landing a black eye to Ukraine’s Leninists (who also saw the rear ends of their proletarian fuhrer’s statues blown off in Russia and Luhansk oblast in the first week of April [see links below]. But the marxists in neighboring Moldova had cause to cheer on April 6, as election results showed that former Soviet republic’s ruling communist party scored a 60 seat majority in Sunday’s parliamentary poll. However Moldova’s communist party is described as being “pro-European,” oddly enough).
Pottering also had a clear message to Ukraine when it comes to changing its constitution:
“Of particular importance for Ukraine is the implementation of a proper constitutional reform, which would establish a viable system of checks and balances and define clear distribution of competences between all branches of power, on the basis of the recommendations issued by the Venice Commission,” he said.
Last week, President Yushchenko said that the constitutional reforms he submitted to parliament on March 31 will be submitted for scrutiny of the constitutional legal beagles based in the Italian city.
Yushchenko’s proposed changes include the introduction of an upper parliamentary house that would be elected directly with equal regional representation (three senatory per region). The electoral system would also be changed to include open list proportional representation in the lower house (occupied by deputaty). Yushchenko’s version would have the presidency cede powers of formation and oversight responsibilities for the premier and cabinet of ministers to the lower house as a way of combating the dualism currently plaguing Ukraine’s executive branch.
Improving the constitution has become a legacy issue for Yushchenko in the last year of his presidency. Ukraine’s parliament ordered presidential elections to be held on October 25 instead of January 17, 2010, as the president initially suggested.
This week Yushchenko agreed to even earlier presidential elections, if voters are given the opportunity to simultaneously elect a new Rada and the deputaty agree to give up their immunity from prosecution.
The back-and-forth can be expected to last until sufficient political consent is manufactured to provide the 300 votes necessary to push through constitution-changing, veto-overriding votes in the already fractured parliament. And you can bet your bottom hryvnia that not too many deputaty are willing to gamble their cushy seats and in early elections… for many it’s possibly their last time at the personally-lucrative parliamentary trough and far from the expected five-year term: the current Rada was elected only 19 months ago in Sept. 2007.
Then, early elections were made possible only after the Cabinet of Ministers led by Yanukovych agreed to finance the elections. But Yanukovych is now in opposition and the premier post is currently occupied by Yulia Tymoshenko, who has her own presidential bid to worry about.


For Lenin statues under attack: