Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 08, 2009

Moldova - A Private Color Revolution?

Following elections in Moldova violent protests broke out and some youth NGOs and the opposition is trying to overthrow the reelected government. While this looks like a color revolution, the otherwise usual support for it from the U.S. and EU seems to be missing.

Moldova is a small landlocked and very poor country between Romania and Ukraine in south east Europe. Throughout history ownership of Moldova changed several times between Romania and Russia. Since 1991 it is independent but the Russophon part east of the river Dniester split off and is now the effectively independent Transnistria. The official language in the rest of the country is Romanian.

The 1990s were economically catastrophic for Moldova. The GDP per person is the lowest in Europe. Out of 4.2 million Moldovans 600,000 live and work abroad. Since 2001 the communist party, essentially social-democrats more or less friendly with Russia, is ruling the country and two days ago again won elections.

International election observers from the OECD confirmed the results.

Allegations of election fraud led to opposition demonstrations in the capitol Chisinau where some youth groups stormed (video) and set fire to (video) the parliament and the president's office. The police came out and the government now has again the upper hand. Youth protests after elections with demands of re-voting seem to follow the typical scheme of a U.S. engineered color revolution.

A good, though a bit partisan chronology of the last days is here. Additionally some links through twitter.

What is missing from a normal color revolution is the support from 'western' countries and their media. But there are some hints that this is a privately arranged coup, probably with support from Romania, that uses the color revolution tools.

The conflict here has several layers. The young city folks voted for the opposition for economic reasons and the elder rural majority voted for the 'communists'. Something weird: Photos from the riots show lots of people with very short hair - Skinheads? Hooligans? Police?

There is movement from Romania to essentially annex Moldova and some of the protesters indeed carried Romanian (and EU) flags. Moldova's government recalled its ambassador to Romania, told the Romanian ambassador to Moldova to leave and closed the border.

Another conflict layer is a personal spat between the oligarch Anatol Stati, Moldova's richest man, and the 'communist' president Vladimir Voronin, father of another rich oligarch. Voronin accuses Stati of financing the opposition party and of dubious business practices.

Stati allegedly made $2 billion within a few years by drilling for oil in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. He recently made a contentious production sharing agreement deal with the authorities of south Sudan. (Someone should ask him about those T-72 tanks south Sudan got from Ukraine.) Stati's main company is ASCOM but most of the business runs through Tristan Oil residing in the tax haven British Virgin Islands. The second man in Stati's business is one Artur Lungu:

Prior to joining Ascom, Mr. Lungu served as the Assistant Director of a USAID Contractor to the Romanian government from 2003 to 2005 where he was responsible for strategic planning and budgeting.
Mr. Lungu holds a degree from the Academy of Economic Studies, Chisinau, Moldova and received a Masters degree, in Public Administration from the University of Delaware.

Lungu is named as project manager for several issues in this (pdf) old Soros foundation activity report and as a 'fellow' in a British equivalent, the John Smith Memorial Trust.

Before the election the son of Stati, Gabriel, a Vice President of ASCOM and owner of a major soccer club once arrested for hooliganism, called for the youth to vote for the opposition block. He is identified as:

Chairman of the International Youth Movement, President of the Federation of International Combat Arts Voievod, ...

The chronology linked above says:

A number of youth NGOs and movements went out in the streets at the same time with the Liberal Democratic Party, one of the most vociferous protesters of the election results.

The demonstrations look like a color revolution but the lack of support form the 'west' lets me assume that they are not an 'official' one. Instead the money of Anatol Stati, his son's friends and/or Romanian sources may be the main forces behind these events with the U.S. trained Artur Lungu being the operational brain.

For additional coverage see and the Romanian sites.

Posted by b on April 8, 2009 at 15:38 UTC | Permalink



thanks again by being ahead by a very long mile

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 8 2009 17:43 utc | 1

Moldova's election body to pass poll results to court

CHISINAU, April 9 (RIA Novosti) - Moldova's top election authorities plan to submit the results of the recent parliamentary elections for approval to the Constitutional Court on Friday, the Central Election Commission head said on Thursday.

"Late last night we concluded the final results of the parliamentary elections held in the country. Four parties made it to parliament, with 49.48% of the electorate voting for the Communist Party. The Liberal, the Liberal-Democratic parties and the Our Moldova alliance received 13.14%, 12.43% and 9.77% of the votes, respectively," Yury Chokan said.

The Constitutional Court should approve the final results of the elections within 10 days.

According to preliminary reports, the Communists will receive 60 seats in the 101-seat parliament, and the three opposition parties will hold the remaining 41 seats.

61 seats are needed to elect a new president when the current one will step down in May.

Posted by: b | Apr 9 2009 8:19 utc | 2

Seems like I was up to something?!

Moldova: 200 people continue to protest

Update 2: Businessman Gabriel Stati was arrested in Ukraine, following the demand of the Moldovan authorities, sources in the Chisinau Prosecution Office said, quoted by ITAR-TASS. Last evening, president Vladimir Voronin said that the intelligence data lead to the idea that Gabriel Stati, son of the Ascom oil business owner, sponsored the protests in Chisinau.

Posted by: b | Apr 9 2009 11:35 utc | 3

RIAN - Moldova seeks extradition of business tycoon from Ukraine

CHISINAU, April 9 (RIA Novosti) - Moldova has demanded the extradition of a businessman detained in Ukraine recently, a source in the Prosecutor General's Office said on Thursday.

Ukrainian media earlier reported Gabriel Stati, one of Moldova's richest people, had been detained. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has neither confirmed nor denied the detention.

The Moldovan Prosecutor General's Office has said Stati could have been involved in sponsoring and masterminding the latest protests in Chisinau, although the source did not specify what he was accused of.

Posted by: b | Apr 9 2009 13:25 utc | 4

Thanks for your terrific spadework and analysis on the Moldovan putsch-attempt, b. Cross-linked here.

Posted by: parvati_roma | Apr 9 2009 16:40 utc | 5

"But there are some hints that this a privately arranged coup probably with support from Romania that uses the color revolution tools."
You can hardly call hints official accusations by the leading party in Moldova and by some Russian officials, can you? And at a closer look, this is a good way to compromise anything coming from Romania regarding this issue.
Romania can't even support it's own, let alone a foreign revolution.
Other than that, good article!

Posted by: nwt | Apr 9 2009 20:36 utc | 6

Moldova’s ‘Twitter Revolution’: Made in America?

Posted by: Anthony | Apr 10 2009 2:11 utc | 7

@nwt - You can hardly call hints official accusations by the leading party in Moldova and by some Russian officials, can you?

I wrote the above before such official accusations came in.

@Anthony - thanks for the link - yes there is a lot of USAID behind this, but what is missing here is the official and public relation support. I believe the Obama administration (and the EU) have other problems now and did not plan to launch this color-revolution now.

Posted by: b | Apr 10 2009 6:32 utc | 8

Moldova has video proof Romanian citizens took part in riots - MP

Moldova calm after riots, authorities promise no further protests

The Moldovan Interior Ministry has warned the riot instigators against attempting to stage new protest actions and promised to use all available means to maintain order. Earlier the riot organizers said they planned to "destroy the government building" on Friday or on Sunday.

Moldovan Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanii said: "Police will use all the necessary means to protect the constitutionality of the Moldovan Republic, including the weapons."

The Kommersant business daily said Russia on Wednesday delivered a major shipment of tear gas grenades on an Il-76 aircraft. "In an hour the boxes of "cheryomukha" gas grenades and other special equipment were unloaded from the aircraft under increased security," the newspaper quoted a high-ranking source in Chisinau airport as saying.

Moldovan Liberal Democrats to stop protest actions in Chisinau

CHISINAU, April 9 (RIA Novosti) - Moldova's Liberal Democratic Party will no longer hold protest rallies on Chisinau's central square near the government building, the party leader said Thursday.

"The permit to hold manifestations... given by the Chisinau City Hall was withdrawn yesterday," Vladimir Filat told journalists.

City Hall had issued a permit for demonstrations to be held in the capital on April 6-20.

Posted by: b | Apr 10 2009 8:40 utc | 9

Riots make key Moldovan company halt business

Chisinau - One of Moldova's biggest holding companies, Industrial and Financial Group ASCOM, has suspended business, sources close to the company management told Interfax.

Sources cited the current political unrest in Moldova as the reason for the suspension.

Interfax has been unable to obtain confirmation either from any official ASCOM spokesmen or from the government.

This week, Gabriel Stati, son of ASCOM President Anatol Stati, was arrested in Odesa, Ukraine, under a Moldovan arrest warrant on suspicion of financing riots in central Chisinau.

Comment to the above post:

This is one of the only big companies in Moldova not under the control of president Voronin\'s son. The arrest of the son of the ASCOM president is a simple \"hostile\" takeover of the company by the mafia clan of the president. How can you call a country democratic when the old president wants to change the constitution to be able to have unlimited number of terms and his son owns the economy and is the richest citizen of the state ?

Posted by: b | Apr 12 2009 12:21 utc | 10

All this was organisated by Voronin Mafia.

Posted by: grag | May 23 2009 11:59 utc | 11

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