Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Chisinau, Moldova, to protest high energy prices and declining living standards.
Several opposition politicians were detained on Sunday in Moldova amid massive protests against high energy prices and the rising cost of living. One of them ended up in a hospital after suffering a heart attack following a brutal police detention.
Valery Klimenco, the honorary leader of the opposition Shor Party, was among the politicians, who were leading a thousands-strong column of demonstrators through central Chisinau on Sunday, when the law enforcement blocked the roads to prevent it from moving further, according to the media reports.
Videos that surfaced on social media show several officers brutally snatching Klimenco, 69, away from the crowd and dragging him to a police van. The politician tried to resist the police but was quickly overpowered by the officers.
Another politician, Sergey Burgudji, sought to aid Klimenko but was pushed away by the police, who refused to let him accompany the elderly politician to the police office. The officers then dragged Klimenko to another police vehicle.
According to a Moldovan MP, Vadim Fotescu, Klimenco felt unwell at the police station and was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack. Fortescu told journalists that the politician was “recovering” but otherwise provided few details about his condition. Klimenco is also a local MP in Chisinau and the head of the ‘Congress of the Russian Communities of the Moldova Republic’ – a civic movement positioning itself as the defender of the interests of the Russian population in Moldova.
Klimenco was not the only politician detained on Sunday. The law enforcement also arrested Dinu Turcanu, another Shor Party member and the head of Moldova’s central Orhei region, his deputy and the Orhei city mayor, according to TASS news agency.
According to the police, around 40 people were detained during the protests. Footage published by Ruptly video news agency shows uniformed officers and those in plain clothes kicking a man whose hands are twisted behind their backs. Another protester can be seen being thrown to the ground by several officers, who snatched him out of the crowd.
Moldova has seen weeks of massive protests organized by the opposition slamming President Maia Sandu’s austerity policies. The opposition demands that the government provide financial assistance to citizens to ease the burden of rising energy and gas prices, which have increased by almost seven times since last year, according to the media.
The Sunday rally was particularly organized by the Shor Party and the Moldovan Communists. The protesters were chanting: “Early elections!” “Resign!” “No to dictatorship!” and “Shame!” The opposition also demands the resignation of Sandu’s government and early elections amid the continued economic hardships.
The government has so far reacted by restricting the rules for holding protests. Rallies are only allowed to take place on the weekends, and any action can last no longer than four hours under the new regulations. In mid-October, the police also demolished a tent camp set up by the protesters outside of the parliament building in mid-September.
The developments come as Europe struggles to cope with the ongoing energy crunch, partly caused by the EU’s campaign to phase out Russian energy exports. In June, Moldova received EU candidate status.