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Moldova's "Twitter Revolution"

Moldova -- Protesters shout anti-communist slogans as a fire burns outside the parliament building in Chisinau, 07Apr2009
(CHISINAU, Moldova) As several thousand protestors returned to the streets of Moldova's capital for a third day to protest the Communist Party victory in Sunday's elections, RFE/RL's Bureau Chief in Chisinau was receiving emails, text messages, and 'tweets' from organizers of the protests.

"The messages were spreading quickly and the senders were asking everyone to forward them to all the people they know," said Vasile Botnaru, who manages RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau. Botnaru said it appears that text messaging and social networks like Facebook and Twitter played a key role in driving young people into the streets. He reported that authorities seemed taken by surprise by the sudden appearance of thousands of protestors in front of Moldova's parliament building.

"I received at least two email messages inviting me to the protests and I saw discussions about them on Facebook," he said.

In what some are calling the "Twitter Revolution," thousands of young demonstrators have been clashing with police and ransacking government buildings to protest the election results. Yesterday was the worst day of rioting so far, as protestors attacked riot police with cobblestones and bricks, prompting security forces to use batons and water cannons to stem their advance. A fire engine was turned upside down and destroyed in the melee. [see video of the demonstrations]

Crowds eventually forced their way into the presidential and parliamentary buildings, inflicting considerable damage as they carried furniture and office equipment outside. Reports suggest that dozens of police and civilians have been treated for injuries. One woman is reported to have died in the violence.

Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin, whose ruling Communist Party won more than half of the vote in the elections, has called the protests a "coup d'etat" by opposition forces. Today, he blamed neighboring Romania for masterminding the violence.

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About RFE/RL's Moldova Service
For more than 55 years, Radio Europa Libera, RFE/RL's Moldova Service, has been a dependable source of professional, independent, and up-to-the minute news and information throughout Moldova and the Transdniester region. The station broadcasts in Romanian on FM, shortwave, and satellite and can be found online at Radio Europa Libera is considered the most popular international broadcaster in Moldova.