The other day I found myself at a demonstration outside city hall with my mother. She's retired, has never voted for the Communists, and is genuinely rooting for the new Liberal government.
She is hopeful about the changes that are going on and even supports the decision by the city council to raise prices for public transport and water (despite her pension of just $57 a month after 40 years of work).
Natalia Morari blogs for RFE/RLs Moldovan Service
I'm not going to write now about the economic sense of the city council's decisions or about the need to create a pension system under which citizens will be able to count on their own savings rather than begging the government for help or about how it is necessary to explain to the current pensioners step by step what changes are going on and why rather than simply bashing them over the head. I want to write about something else.
When we returned home the other day, my mother and I were surfing the Internet. I wouldn't care about all the dirt I saw there if I had read it on my own. But unfortunately, my mother read it too.
I don't know who is writing this or why. But on the pages of various Internet forums, the conflict has already moved to a whole new level.
Most commonly, you read that those among the protesters who speak Russian are speaking "the language of pigs." You read that they all need to be rounded up into cattle cars and shipped off to Siberia. And it's language that is taken as the main factor in identifying the protesters. And that is frightening.
A severe social conflict now would play primarily into the hands of the Communists -- in fact, there could be nothing better for them. It would be the most fertile soil for beginning a new election campaign, but this time with a slogan that is perfectly understandable to one part of society -- "We will end the war." Now we know which part of society this is.
Judging from the current logic, we also know that it is against people like my mother (who, although she knows Romanian just fine, speaks Russian at home). It is against the 23 percent of the population of Moldova who consider Russian their native language (according to Gallup).
Do we know where we are headed? Are we now going to justify every extremist who is inflaming ethnic tensions simply because he speaks Romanian? Or are we going to condemn free-thinking people espousing democratic values just because Russian is their first language? What difference does that make? Let them speak Chinese, for all that it matters.
Extremists need to be condemned because they are extremists, just like pedophiles must be condemned for being pedophiles and criminals for being criminals. It doesn't matter what language they speak. And if we are going to criticize the pensioners who are taking to the streets, let's not do it because of the language they speak.
Can it be we don't see what a hornets' nest we are stirring up? The so-called national problem has always existed here and isn't ever going to go away. It is the same in any former colony.
There is only one way for us to resolve this problem and that is by a long, civilized process of de-Sovietization, such as we have not yet had in the years since Moldova became independent. But to do this, we need political will and complete independence from Moscow.
The Communists should be happy now. This is what they have been working toward for the last eight years.