The organizers of a mass protest in Moldova’s capital have set up a tent city, vowing early on September 7 that they will remain there until their demands are met.
Tens of thousands of people joined the protest in central Chisinau on September 6 to call for the resignation of President Nicolae Timofti and for early elections following a $1 billion bank fraud in the impoverished country.
They also demanded the resignation of senior officials at Moldova’s central bank and the attorney general’s office.
Police estimate that more than 60,000 people attended the six-hour protest on the central square outside of the main government building.
Protesters shouted slogans such as: “We want our country back!” and “Down with the oligarchs.”
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Police clashed with supporters of the far-left party Red Bloc after they marched to the prosecutor-general’s headquarters and attempted to break through a police cordon.
According to Interfax, police detained several protesters, several others were injured, and one woman was hospitalized.
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After the rally ended on September 6, organizers from a group calling itself Dignity and Truth (DA) set up about 30 tents on the square.
Rally organizer and former parliamentary deputy Valentin Dolganiuc said the tent city would serve as a base for more protests “as it becomes necessary in order to make sure all our demands are met.”
Nearly $1 billion -- around one eighth of the country’s gross domestic product -- disappeared from three banks shortly before Moldova's November 2014 parliamentary elections.
The bank fraud prompted a rapid depreciation in the national currency, fueling inflation, and lowering living standards.
Moldova’s pro-European Prime Minister Valeriu Strelets, who took up the post in July, has promised to crack down on corruption.
He made an appearance in front of the government building and said that he would consider the demands made by protest leaders.
Strelets told Reuters in August that Moldova would speed up efforts to find the missing $1 billion and bring the money back to Moldova.
With additional reporting by Reuters, AFP, and Interfax