CHISINAU, Moldova – Thousands of protesters gathered in the capital of Moldova on Sunday, demanding that the government provide subsidies for winter heating bills and resign over its handling of the economic crisis.
The protesters, who waved flags and banners, accused the pro-Western government of failing to protect the people from rising energy prices and inflation, which reached 18.5% in January.
They also called for early elections and the resignation of President Maia Sandu, who took office in December 2022 after defeating the pro-Russian incumbent Igor Dodon.
The protest was organized by the Socialist Party, which is led by Dodon and is the main opposition force in parliament. The party claims that Sandu’s government has betrayed the interests of Moldova by aligning with the European Union and NATO, and by accepting a $600 million loan from the International Monetary Fund.
The government has blamed the energy crisis on external factors, such as the surge in global gas prices and the disruption of gas supplies from Russia due to a dispute with Ukraine. It has also said that it is working to diversify its energy sources and to implement reforms to improve the economy and fight corruption.
Moldova, a former Soviet republic of 3.5 million people, is one of the poorest countries in Europe and relies heavily on remittances from its citizens working abroad. It is also divided between those who favor closer ties with the EU and those who prefer closer relations with Russia.