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Moldova: Government Retracts Education Measures, But Protests Continue

Chisinau, 22 February 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Moldova's ruling Communist Party has decided to retract controversial measures that have sparked weeks of protests in the capital, Chisinau. But protests are continuing today as tens of thousands of demonstrators demand the resignation of the government and early elections.

The central committee of the Communist Party last night chose to retract plans to introduce mandatory study of the Russian language in the nation's schools. The committee also withdrew measures to remove Romanian history from the curriculum.

It is not clear whether the measures will be suspended or fully eliminated.

Demonstrations continued today in Chisinau, however, as some 30,000 students and other young people demanded that the government step down.

The moves to elevate the status of the Russian language have incited repeated protests against so-called "Russification" among Moldovans, who speak a language nearly identical to Romanian.

Moldova's parliament is debating whether to prosecute the organizers of the demonstrations, the Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD), who officials accuse of encouraging youths to take part in the unauthorized rallies.

PPCD Chairman Iurie Rosca told demonstrators on 20 February that the main demand of his party is the resignation of the Communist cabinet.