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Moldova Marks Anniversary Of Deadly Protests

Acting President Mihai Ghimpu at the ceremony
Acting President Mihai Ghimpu at the ceremony
CHISINAU -- Moldova's leaders have praised the hundreds of young people who launched protests against the Communist-led government one year ago and opened the way to political change in the country, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

Prime Minister Vlad Filat said at a rally in downtown Chisinau today that last year's protests, which came after controversial elections won by the ruling Communist Party, showed the world that Moldova wanted a "European future."

Another leader of the current ruling coalition, Serafim Urechean, said today that the young Moldovans who took to the streets on April 7, 2009, wanted to "defend their future" and to do away with the "communist dictatorship."

Filat, Urechean, and other leaders unveiled the blueprint for a "Monument to Freedom," which they said will be erected in front of parliament by April 7, 2011.

Meanwhile, acting President Mihai Ghimpu bestowed a posthumous award on the only known victim of last year's riots, 27-year-old Valeriu Boboc.

Hundreds of students were arrested last year during the protests in Chisinau. Some of them have since complained that they were tortured by police.

Then-Interior Minister Gheorghe Papuc has been charged with "serious negligence" for his role in the repression. He could face up to five years in prison if found guilty.

After last April's protests, Moldova's pro-Western parties triggered a political crisis by blocking the ruling Communists' attempts to elect a new head of state.

The stalemate was resolved through new elections in July, which were won by the current ruling coalition, the Alliance for European Integration.