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Moldova's Dead Souls

The results of the recount of Moldova's disputed elections were supposed to released today, but the election commission has said that they will now be delayed until after Orthodox Easter (most likely early next week) because of "technical reasons."

Illeana Breitenstein, the deputy director of our Moldovan Service, says the reasoning is of course highly plausible. The other interpretation, she says, is that the authorities, like the opposition, are well aware that the recount will not change the result and will only provoke new demonstrations. And, so the logic goes, it's best to avoid street demos during Easter.

The central problem with all of this -- and what lends some credence to the opposition's argument that the recount is merely a "trick" -- is that the first count may well have been relatively accurate.

From the opposition's perspective, it's the alleged 180,000 "dead souls" who they say miraculously voted in favor of Voronin's party that are really the problem.

The election commission had promised to open its books up to the opposition, but in the end a court decision on April 15 prevented the opposition gaining access to the voter lists.

Regardless, another colored revolution looks unlikely. Not only do the domestic factors seem untenable, the international community clearly does not want to get involved.

The State Department urged calm on April 16, voiced concern about reports of protesters being mistreated in detention, and welcomed Voronin's call to amnesty some of the rioters.

The EU has made similar noncommittal noises.

So why the caution?

Writing for, by way of Transitions Online, Vessela Tcherneva, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, argues that it's due to the "falling away of romanticism toward what were called the "color revolutions" of the early 1990s":

The "orange" and "rose" revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia have been widely cited as precedents of Moldova's "Twitter revolution.” These however have become less than inspiring comparisons, for the current condition of both countries' democracies is bleak. Ukraine, amid endemic political turmoil and on the brink of economic collapse, could turn into the biggest failed state in Europe.

Georgia, amid rooted political polarization and distrust, faces constant street protests against Mikheil Saakashvili's authoritarian tendencies (including curbs on the independence of Georgian courts and media, and intimidation of the opposition) and discontent over his handling of the war with Russia in August.

-- Luke Allnutt

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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