The teacher-student strike committee yesterday suspended the street protests, underway in Chisinau since October 18, until parliament takes up in early November president Mircea Snegur’s constitutional initiative to change the official name of the native language from Moldovan to Romanian. Committee leaders said at their meeting, in the media’ presence, that they were disappointed with the lack of public support. Despite their agenda of populist economic demands and avoidance of Romanian national slogans, the number of demonstrators in Chisinau decreased to 3,000 yesterday, from the initial 7,000-8000 October 18. Emissaries had fanned out in the republic over the weekend to mobilize support, but none materialized–a key consideration in the committee’s decision to suspend the strike. (16)
The decision to link a possible resumption of the street protests to the parliament’s debate on the language issue reflects the movement’s radicalization as well as its shrinkage. The leaders’ tactic of muting Romanian national demands in the hope of attracting public support on an economic platform having failed, they now signal that they are prepared to revert to their core objectives. Protest leaders have warned that they would resort to more drastic action if parliament rejects Snegur’s proposal to rename the language. The Agrarian parliamentary majority now considers holding a referendum-type popular consultation on the proper name of the language. All sides to the dispute expect the result to be a landslide for the name Moldovan.
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