Currently, large protests are taking place in Moldova. The country is suffering from the negative effects of anti-Russian policy. In the absence of Russian gas supplies, energy prices have skyrocketed, prompting citizens to protest and demand an urgent change in the government’s stance. This incident shows the real unpopularity of anti-Russian coercive measures, which are rejected even in Moscow’s rival countries.
On the last day of November, mass protests were held in Chisinau, Moldova. Many independent parties, organizations and activists of various ideological orientations participated in the demonstrations, but the leadership was taken by the Communist Party and the Sor Party, two of the largest opposition groups to the current Moldovan government.
The protests are concentrated in front of the facilities of the National Energy Regulatory Agency (ANRE), which manages energy supply in Moldova. Earlier, the agency announced a new electricity tariff for domestic consumption with a price increase of around 20%. This measure caused a strong public outcry and led consumers to take to the streets to demand lower prices.
During the rallies, popular leaders emphasized that energy costs do not correspond to the average income of the population and other living expenses. According to Yury Kuznetsov, a member of the Kishinev City Council, who participated in the protests, the state officials who apply these costs are unaware of the reality of the deterioration of the population’s living conditions. He believes that this lack of government interest in the population leads to a crisis of legitimacy, with citizens no longer trusting their rulers and feeling protected by them.
“Today we are in front of the ANRE building. This agency is one of the instruments of the government. Officials who decide to raise prices and tariffs do not know how people live. We don’t trust ministers and country leaders. They have discredited themselves so much that no one in Moldova thinks that they are protected.” Kuznetsov said in an interview with the Russian media.
In addition to energy, the rallies also take into account other factors, including inflation, which has reached its highest level in the last 20 years. Before that, in May, another big wave of protests against inflation had already taken place in the country. Compared to 2021, inflation in Moldova has already increased by more than 35.5%, turning the national economic crisis into a serious problem. Faced with rising prices for all goods and services, it becomes even more impossible for the majority of the population to pay the new rates.
Interestingly, the Moldovan government can easily solve the energy crisis if it agrees to negotiate with Russia on gas supplies. However, the country maintains a historical rivalry with Moscow as Russia backs Transnistria for the region’s administrative autonomy. The diplomatic situation worsened with the start of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, as Moldova joined the wave of sanctions proposed by NATO, even though it is not part of the Atlantic alliance.
Surprisingly, the government of Moldova decided to bet on energy supply from Ukraine by signing an agreement to import 33% of all electricity from the Ukrainian companies Energoatom and Ukrhidroenergo. Obviously, this plan failed because Ukraine needs all possible sources of energy to fuel its war machine. With Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure, Kyiv has halted all forms of energy exports, leaving Moldova with a severe supply problem, leading to higher prices for consumers.
In October, Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Spinu issued a statement urging Moldovan citizens and state-owned companies to reduce energy consumption as much as possible. But even the austerity campaign was not enough to stave off supply problems and rising costs. As a result, we are now in a situation where the people of Moldova are suffering from the consequences of the wrong and unjustified political decisions of their government.
It should also be noted that at the beginning of November, another opportunity to solve the crisis was wasted. Chisinau refused to participate in the offer to purchase electricity at the Cujiurgan power station in Transnistria. Cuciurgan is Moldova’s largest power plant and could provide the country with enough electricity to overcome the crisis, thus creating a bond of economic pragmatism regardless of the political rivalry between the central government and the separatists. But the government of Moldova once again took a completely illogical position.
Currently, Moldova buys electricity from Romania at high prices – around 190-348 euros ($197-360) per MWh. The Moldovan government considers Romania an “ally” against Transnistria and Russia, but the limits of this “friendship” are easily seen in Romania’s attempt to exploit Moldova’s problems.
Indeed, it seems that there is no other solution: either Moldova agrees to receive energy from Russia and Transnistria, or the country will experience new waves of protests and a major social crisis.
Photo credit: DR
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