Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 117

On October 18 and 19, some 7,000 – 8,000 students attended an unauthorized rally in Chisinau’s central square followed by a march through the city center. The student demonstration, on the first day of a preannounced teacher-student strike, went far beyond education issues to political and economic demands, including but not limited to: the resignation of Andrei Sangheli’s Agrarian government; payment of back wages to all wage earners; indexation of wages and personal bank deposits to the rate of inflation; and increased budget funds for education and social protection measures. Strike leaders have announced their intention to stage marches through the capital and picket government institutions daily until the "antireformist" government accepts the demands or resigns. The strike committee is comprised mostly of history and philology professors from Chisinau university who belong to the pro-Romanian opposition. (17)

The protest is a continuation of last spring’s two-month strike, which featured daily rallies in the central square and ended only after president Mircea Snegur endorsed some of the grievances and referred them to the cabinet.

The strike leaders’ main demands at that stage were replacement of Moldovan history with Romanian history at the medium-school and university level, and identification of the native language in the constitution as "Romanian" instead of "Moldovan." Those unpopular demands doomed the protesters to political isolation even after they added general economic demands later on.

This time around, the same strike leaders have avoided the Romanian issue, seeking instead to use possibly crowd-pleasing but surely inflationary economic demands to mobilize the populace against the cabinet.

Indications have multiplied recently that president Mircea Snegur has encouraged the protest movement, hoping to channel it against his political rival Sangheli and against the Agrarian majority in parliament. Snegur has demanded vastly increased presidential powers at parliament’s expense. He aims to replace the government and hold controlled elections to a new parliament in order to ensure his own reelection next year. Snegur seems prepared to make major concessions to the pro-Romanian opposition, a tactic which could cost him more politically than he stands to gain.

Balkan Pipeline for Caspian Oil.