Moldova Since

I'or details on Moldova's earlier history, see p303.

Visitors are surprised to hear that there is a Communist government in power in Moldova - after all the tiny country has suffered through after declaring independence from the USSR. Vladimir Voronin is president of the republic, and also the president of the parliamentary Communist Party. He has strong Russian sympathies and has taken steps to dissociate Moldova from its Romanian roots, focusing instead on the separateness of the Moldovan identity and language, but ones fashioned very much under its Soviet and Russian history of dominance. In his inaugural address in April 2001, he described Moldova as a European Cuba which needed to guard itself against 'imperialist predators' in Europe, just as (^uba had against the USA.

The president is elected by parliamentary assembly. The prime minister is Vasile Tarlev.

These officials have become highly unpopular. In 2002, several lliousands took to the streets in Chi^inau to protest a government plan to force school children to learn Russian. The government backed down but refused to step down, as the crowds were demanding. In November 2003, up to 50,000 took to the capital's streets in a peaceful protest demanding I he government's resignation; they were incensed that Russian troops remain on Moldovan soil (in the breakaway region of Transdniestr) and about a Russian plan to change Moldova to a federation, giving self-rule to Transniestr. Placards read: Down with Communists! and We Want to Join NATO!

In 2003, Russian troops started to honour their years-old agreement of pulling out of Transdniestr; by the end of the year, they had removed some 20,000 tons of weapons, ammunition and equipment - about half of all that had remained on the territory since the Communist era.

The government under Voronin has been both trying to buddy up to the EU and international bodies (they joined the WTO in 2001), signing a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU in 1999, as well as snuggling up to the Russian and Ukrainian governments. If the government survives until elections in 2004, a major change in government is expected.

DID YOU KNOW?

Moldova ranks second in the world for the percentage of its population living under the official Dovertv line: 80% (2002).

Nicholas Dima's Moldova and the Transdnestr Republic (2001) offers the most complete analysis of Moldova's odd political positioning, and explores Russia's Interest in the area.

DID YOU KNOW?

Moldova is ranked second in the world for the percentage of female professionals in its population: 67% (2002).

2002

2004

The Culture

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YOU KNOW YOU ARE IN ROMANIA WHEN...

Otopeni airport loudspeaker announcement: 'Ladies and gentlemen, for security reasons you are kindly required not to carry firearms in your hand luggage.Thank you for your understanding'.

DID YOU KNOW?

Moldova is ranked first in the world for total spending on education: 10.1% of the government budget (2002).

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