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Moldova brutality admitted

A senior official in Moldova's Communist party has admitted that opposition protesters have been subject to police brutality over the past week but said the officers in question should not be punished.

Marian Lupu, speaker of Moldova's parliament, said the amnesty from prosecution announced on Wednesday by Vladimir Voronin, Moldova's president, must apply to protesters who contested the Communists' election victory two weeks ago as well as to the police who beat them in holding cells."The president said there would be an amnesty for everybody involved," he told the Financial Times. "Logically, if you forgive one side then you have to forgive the other side as well."

Many Moldovans took to the streets 10 days ago over allegations that the ruling Communists stole elections held two Sundays ago. Protests turned violent as the parliament and presidency buildings were stormed by demonstrators.

Over the following days, hundreds of people involved in the protests were arrested and taken to police holding cells, where, according to reports by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the United Nations, many were beaten by police and sentenced collectively to short prison terms.

Mr Lupu said police had reacted emotionally to the injuries sustained by their colleagues. "They visited their colleagues in hospital, some 200 of them, and saw how badly injured they were."

Mr Voronin offered the amnesty after 10 days of tension in the capital, Chisinau, with many young people saying they were reluctant to go out on the streets for fear of being arrested.

But opposition parties were sceptical about the amnesty. Dorin Chirtoaca, the mayor of Chisinau and a senior figure in the opposition Liberal party, said: "I am not aware anyone has been released, and, even if they have, the damage has already been done."

On Wednesday, Romania's president said he was speeding up the process by which almost 1m citizens of Europe's poorest country could acquire Romanian citizenship, in a move Mr Voronin described as "meddling".

The results of an election recount, begun on Wednesday, are expected on Friday. Opposition parties are boycotting the process, saying it will do nothing to address concerns about ballot stuffing in the elections.

Source: Financial Times




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