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Moldova: Police Break Up Protests, Opposition Deputies Beaten

Chisinau, 26 November 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Several thousand people protested today in the Moldovan capital Chisinau for a second day against the communist government of President Vladimir Voronin. Moldovan police using truncheons attacked protesters outside Voronin's residence, beating two opposition deputies, Vlad Cubreacov and Eugen Garla. Reports say several protesters were beaten and detained during the protest. The opposition-led demonstration blocked traffic for hours in downtown Chisinau. "This crowd of policemen rushed upon the protesters, they beat men, women, and children. They hit me on the legs and even after I showed my identification papers, they dragged me on the pavement," Cubreacov said.

The protests were triggered yesterday by a Moscow-sponsored plan to settle a dispute over Moldova's pro-Russian breakaway Transdniester region. Protesters said the plan, which provided for turning Moldova into a federation secured by Russian troops already present in the region, would lead to the country losing independence.

First deputy chief of staff in the Kremlin administration, Dmitrii Kozak, commented on the refusal: "I don't think the events in Georgia had any influence or any impact [on this decision]. Most likely it is the result of the absence of political courage. The step made by one of the sides is indeed a serious mistake and now they might spend another 10 years trying to reach agreement."

A top Russian military official, General Yurii Baluevskii, today said Russia will maintain its 2,000 troops in Transdniester to avert violence.