A pro-government rally in the Moldovan capital Chisinau attracted over 75,000 people Sunday in support of the country’s movement toward better relations with the European Union (EU) and Western Europe. The rally comes amid Moldova’s accelerated application to join the European Union, announced on March 3, and alleged Russian attempts to undermine Moldovan democracy.
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola spoke to the crowd, saying “We are living in times of instability. Yet, you can be proud of the fact that those who sought to [destabilize] your country, have been unsuccessful. Moldova stands proud despite the threats and the intimidation.” Metsola went on to praise current Moldovan President Maia Sandu, saying, “I am [honored] to stand here with Maia Sandu, a woman who personifies what it means to be European.”
Sandu lauded the rally, tweeting, “Moldova’s place is undeniably within the EU & today, our citizens made that resoundingly clear.”
Opposition party leader Ilan Shor held a series of competing rallies across the country where he spoke via video conference. Shor reiterated his prior calls for a referendum on EU membership, saying:
Europe supports the defamation of Moldova. Yes, there is a part of society, which also supports this situation. However, there are also people who support the EU and Russia, but there are also people who believe that Moldovans are strong and can decide their fate independently, that they can build a strong and prosperous country.
Shor has been the subject of sanctions by the United States Treasury Department for allegedly assisting Russia in its attempts to undermine Moldovan elections. Shor has also been found guilty in absentia for an alleged $1 billion theft from Moldovan banks in 2014 and has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.