April 10, 2009

HERE'S THAT FIRST BIG TEST JOE BIDEN TALKED ABOUT:

Fearing Uprising, Russia Backs Moldova's Communists: This week's peaceful protests in Moldova that transformed into riots have raised the possibility of an anti-Communist revolution like those seen in Georgia and Ukraine. Now Russia is stepping in to back Moldova's old guard, but the country's tangled history could prove to be diplomatic quicksand for the West. More protests were brewing on Friday. (Der Spiegel, 4/10/09)

Moldova's current president, Vladimir Voronin, has belittled the protests and accused neighboring Romania of organizing a coup. He even expelled Romania's ambassador on Wednesday. "When the flag of Romania was raised on state buildings, the attempts of the opposition to carry out a coup became clear," he said. "We will not allow this."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lined up behind Voronin on Thursday and described the protesters who ransacked the parliament as "pogrom-makers" bent on destroying the country.

In the West, the uprising looked like another post-Soviet "color" revolution, a people's movement against an old-guard Communist regime, such as Georgia's 2003 "Rose Revolution" or Ukraine's 2004 "Orange Revolution." From Moscow's perspective, that's exactly the problem. "The Moscow authorities are afraid of spontaneous mass protests in the regions … and, for this reason, Russian television is showing what is happening in an exclusively negative light," Dmitry Oreshkin, a Moscow-based political analyst, told Reuters. "It is beneficial for the Kremlin to show the consequences of peoples' protests to justify why it needs to be tough."

The Duma, or Russia's lower house of parliament, has called on the EU to condemn the protests. But some of the anti-Communist opposition parties in Moldova want to join the EU, if possible by reunifying with Romania. The two nations were unified for a while before World War II, and about two-thirds of Moldovans claim Romanian descent. Reunification was a campaign issue in Sunday's election. "If Romanians and Moldovans decide in favor of a union," one European diplomat said in last week's run-up to the vote, "the EU will not oppose them."


Now the UR has to decide whether he's a Realist, who backs Russian oppression, or an American, who backs self-determination.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 10, 2009 11:05 AM
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