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Christians in rioting Moldova issue plea

CHISINAU, Moldova (BP)–Christians in Moldova are asking believers around the world to pray for their country in the wake of tumult over April 5 parliamentary elections in which the communist party won 50 percent of the seats.

When results were announced April 6, people began to peacefully protest the election as fraudulent. Through Twitter, an Internet social networking tool, the call went out for more protesters, and more than 10,000 people gathered in Chisinau, the nation’s capital.

By noon some of the protestors became violent, throwing rocks through windows in the presidential building and setting fires. Some leaders of opposition parties tried to quiet the protesters and prevent the riots, but they were unsuccessful.

Fights broke out between the police and protestors and at least one protestor died. The government shut down Facebook and Twitter, which had been many people’s primary sources of news.

Moldovan Christians observed a day of prayer and fasting April 10.

One of the concerns of the evangelical churches in Moldova is that they will be blamed for the riots and their religious freedoms will be limited.

One Moldovan Christian wrote in an e-mail obtained by the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, “Many of the Christians look at the recent events with despair. The events of the week will be remembered as riots, the communist party will punish those who played a part, or at least those who look the part.

“And within a few weeks all this will be but a memory, with a mild, lingering fear and the repercussions of more media censorship and the promulgation of lies.”

That fear increased when government shut down the Internet for two days.

“The tension in the society is very high. The official authorities continue to accuse the opposition parties for the violence and riots that happened on Tuesday,” another Moldovan, whose name also was withheld, said. “Many young people are arrested, independent journalists are threatened and intimidated, several foreign journalists were expelled and many Internet sites are closed.”

In an e-mail, another Moldovan Christian wrote, “Please, pray for the peace and freedom in Moldova. Pray for the evangelical community; we might face great challenges, including persecution. Urge your politicians to support us during these extremely difficult trials for our nation.”

A group of leaders from various policy organizations in Moldova released a declaration regarding the escalating social and political situation.

“While the acts of violence cannot be justified in any way and should be investigated by the competent authorities, we believe that those peaceful protests were fueled by doubts regarding the fairness of elections and distrust in public institutions, including those that administrated the electoral process,” the declaration said in part.

“Those events were largely triggered by the dissatisfaction of young people with the social and economic situation and the feeling of uncertainty about their future prospects in the Republic of Moldova,” the leaders said.

At the request of Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin, officials began recounting April 15 the more than 1.5 million ballots cast in the election in an effort to rebuild trust. They expect to announce the recount results no later than April 21, according to Reuters.

Initial results in the election gave the communists 49.48 percent of the vote and 60 seats — one short of the number needed to ensure victory for their candidate when parliament chooses the next president, Reuters said.

Opposition groups, though, say the problem was with the actual voting procedures and that a recount will not yield more accurate results. Their concern is fraud with voters’ lists, which they say contain the names of dead voters as well as Moldovans not living in the country.
Sharon Mager is a correspondent for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.

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  • Sharon Mager