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Moldovan Citizens Dissatisfied With Anti-Russian Policy

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Moldovan Citizens Dissatisfied With Anti-Russian Policy

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Lucas Leiroz, researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant.

Mass protests are taking place in Moldova. The country is suffering from the side effects of its anti-Russian policy. With the absence of Russian gas supplies, energy prices have risen exponentially, prompting citizens to protest and demand immediate changes in the government’s stance. The case shows the real unpopularity of anti-Russian coercive measures, which are rejected even in countries rivaling Moscow.

On the last day of November, massive protests took place in Kishinev, Moldova. Many parties, organizations and independent militants of different ideological orientations participated in the demonstrations, but the leadership was taken by the Communist Party and the Sor Party, which are two of the largest groups opposing the current Moldovan government.

The protests were concentrated in front of the facilities of the National Agency for Energy Regulation (ANRE), which manages the energy supply in Moldova. Previously, the agency had announced a new electricity tariff for domestic consumption, with an increase of around 20% in the price. The measure generated strong popular dissatisfaction, taking consumers to the streets in order to demand lower prices.

During the rallies, popular leaders stressed that energy values are not consistent with the average income of the population and other living costs. According to Yury Kuznetsov, a Kishinev City Council member who participated in the demonstrations, government’s officials imposing such costs are not aware of the reality of the people’s worsening living conditions. He believes that this lack of government concern for the people is leading to a crisis of legitimacy, with citizens no longer trusting their rulers or feeling protected by them.

“Today we are in front of the ANRE building. This agency is one of the government’s tools. Officials, who decide to raise prices and tariffs, do not know how the people live. We do not trust ministers, leaders of the country. They have discredited themselves so much that no one in Moldova thinks they are protected”, Kuznetsov said during an interview to a Russian media outlet.

In addition to energy, other factors are being considered by protesters during the rallies, mainly inflation, which recently hit a 20-year record. Earlier, in May, another large wave of protests against inflation had already taken place in the country. In relation to 2021, inflation in Moldova has already grown by more than 35.5%, making the national economic crisis a serious problem. Faced with the increase in prices of all goods and services, it becomes even more unfeasible for most of the population to pay new tariffs.

Curiously, the Moldovan government could easily solve its energy crisis if it agreed to negotiate gas supplies with Russia. However, the country maintains historical rivalries with Moscow due to Russian support for the administrative autonomy of the Transnistria region. The diplomatic situation deteriorated with the start of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, as Moldova adhered to the wave of sanctions proposed by NATO, even without being part of the Atlantic alliance.

In an absolutely irrational and anti-strategic way, the Moldovan government decided to bet on energy supply precisely from Ukraine, signing a contract to import 33% of all its electricity from Ukrainian companies Energoatom and Ukrhydroenergo. Obviously, the plan failed, as Ukraine needs all possible sources of energy to continue fueling its war machine. With the Russian attacks on the Ukrainian infrastructure, Kiev suspended all forms of energy export, leaving Moldova with serious supply problems, thus raising the prices paid by consumers.

In October, Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu made a pronouncement urging Moldovan citizens and government enterprises to reduce energy consumption as much as possible. But not even a reduction campaign was enough to avoid supply problems and rising costs. As a result, there is now a situation where the Moldovan people are suffering the consequences of their government’s wrong and unjustified political decisions.

It is also important to emphasize that in early November another opportunity to resolve the crisis was wasted. Kishinev refused to attend a proposal to buy electricity from the Cuciurgan plant in Transnistria. Cuciurgan is the Moldova’s largest power plant and could supply the country with enough electricity to alleviate the crisis, establishing ties of economic pragmatism, regardless of political rivalries between the central government and the separatists. However, the Moldovan government once again adopted an absolutely illogical stance.

Currently, Moldova buys electricity from Romania at exorbitant prices – around 190-348 euros (197-360 dollars) per MWh. The Moldovan government sees Romania as an “ally” against Transnistria and Russia, but the limits of this “friendship” are easily seen with this Romanian attempt to profit from Moldovan problems.

Indeed, there seems to be no other solution: either Moldova agrees to buy energy from Russia and Transnistria, or the country will experience new waves of protests and a major social crisis.

You can follow Lucas on Twitter and Telegram.

Source: InfoBrics

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