It seems as if the communist community organizers rigged an election in Moldova. Of course, our new administration and State Department were fine with it, but the Moldovans were not and decided to let their rulers and masters feel their teeth. Here is what our pathetic State Department had to say:
QUESTION: In Moldova, the opposition is contesting the results of the elections and there are violences. What is the U.S. position on that?
MR. WOOD: Well, we’re obviously concerned about any violence taking part, and we want to see people refrain from further violence. We want calmer heads to prevail. And we’ll just have to see how things develop.
QUESTION: Do you think the elections were free and fair?
MR. WOOD: Well, let me just say that I believe the OSCE, its election monitoring mission, did an assessment which basically said that the – you know, the elections were generally positive, but there were some concerns, I think, about undue administrative influence on the process.
You know, I think – you know, we’re obviously doing our own assessment. You know, we haven’t completed it, but I think we would probably say that it’s – it was generally positive. But again, we haven’t completed our assessment and we share some of those concerns about undue administrative influence. But that, you know, that is – what we don’t want to see is continued violence as a result of these elections because that’s in no one’s interest.
QUESTION: Do you think the opposition is right to contest the victory of the communist party?
MR. WOOD: Well, look, I mean, what we’re for is a free and fair election. And you know, those who win, you know, that’s the result of an election. But again, what’s important here is that there be – that people desist from any type of violent activity. That doesn’t help anything. It only adds more tension to a region that doesn’t need any further tension.
But I’ve given you our – just our general assessment of the elections. And I’m sure we’ll have a, you know, further readout for you once we’ve completed that assessment.
Daily State Department briefing from Robert Wood
Facebook, Twitter help Moldova protester organize demonstrations
Social media platforms helped protesters know when to show up where
Even as the Moldovan government refused entry to foreign journalists, new media tools including Twitter and Facebook are playing key roles in organizing protesters at demonstrations in the Moldovan capital.
Protests of around 15,000 people against disputed legislative elections seemingly materialized out of nowhere on Monday and Tuesday in central Chisinau after an SMS campaign initiated by critics of the government.
Sergei Muntian, a 22-year-old protestor, told the AFP news agency that the outpouring began after many people received an SMS that said: "Come fight the Communists in the front of the government building. Pass this message on."
After protests turned violent on Tuesday, cell phone service in the areas surrounding the demonstrations was not available. Whether disruptions were initiated by authorities to stem protesters' ability to communicate or if phone networks were overloaded by the massive crowds gathering in the capital of Chisinau remains unclear.
Twitter users flagged their messages with the label #pman
But outside of the main protest areas protesters were able to access the Internet to post updates on Twitter and Facebook.
Messages on Thursday said NGOs and student groups were planning protests at Avram Iancu Square and linked to YouTube videos of demonstrators reporting cases of abuse by the police.
Using the searchable keyword #pman, named after Chisinau's central square's Romanian name Piata Marii Adunari Nationale, Twitter postings, called tweets, have flooded the online service so much that the protests have been dubbed the "Twitter Revolution."
"Chisinau surrounded by troops," a user named robintel posted Wednesday on the micro-blogging service Twitter. "People are protesting. The US said the elections were OK. Not nice."
Membership at several groups set up on social networking site Facebook have seen membership swell since protests began Monday. One such group titled "Support Moldova" boasted nearly 7,000 on Thursday.
Governments have a difficult time controlling information on Facebook and Twitter
The protests were spearheaded by a committee of activists called "I am an Anti-Communist" and their size came as a surprise not just to the government but also to mainstream opposition parties that lost Sunday's election.
"Using the Internet we managed to gather 15,000 people on the square in a few minutes," Natalya Morar, one of the leaders of the committee, told reporters.
Twitter and Facebook posts, though often not verified by independent sources, are proving to be a major source of information about developing events in Chisinau. Some 18 journalists working for Romanian and international media were prevented from entering Moldova on Wednesday, and other Romanian journalists were sent back from Chisinau airport, according to Reporters Without Borders.
Wide-spread use of mobile phones and text messaging was seen to be a central element in the success of the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine as well as protests in Belarus in 2006. Internet-based media platforms also provided nearly instantaneous reports from terror attacks in Mumbai, the crash landing of a passenger plane in the Hudson River near Manhattan, and an earthquake in China.
But despite the large amount of updates emerging via social media from Chisinau, bloggers in eastern Europe have also complained about the lack of information getting in.
Since (the media) have no facts to report, they published an article about the social networking aspects of the protests," wrote Kyiv-based, American blogger Ann M. Merrill. "Please. Give me some real news!"