Moldova: Huge anti-corruption protest in Chisinau

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Media caption,

Thousands of demonstrators joined the ongoing anti-government protest in Chisinau's central square, as Rayhan Demytrie explains

Thousands of people are taking part in another large anti-corruption protest in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau.

There have been reports of clashes between rival groups.

Protesters demand the government's resignation and early elections over a $1bn (£655m) bank fraud.

Last week, tens of thousands of people protested against the failure of the authorities to hold to account those responsible for the disappearance of the cash from the country's banks.

They argue that their living standards have been damaged by the fraud.

The state was forced to bail three banks out last year after the money vanished from their coffers.

Correspondents say streets in the city centre have been cordoned off and there is a heavy police presence.

Privately-owned news channel Publika TV said clashes between supporters of the Dignity and Justice civic platform and a group advocating Moldova's unification with Romania broke out soon after the rally began.

Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe and the fraud has resulted in a depreciation of the national currency, the leu.

At the scene

Image caption,
Police are out in force for the protest in Chisinau

By Rayhan Demytrie, BBC News

Chanting "resign" and "victory", thousands of demonstrators joined the ongoing anti-government protest in Chisinau's central square. Many were holding Moldovan and EU flags.

It's the second Sunday in a row that has seen thousands coming out to protest against corruption.

The rally has been organised by a civic platform, Dignity and Truth, which was established in February in response to a $1bn banking fraud.

It has been largely peaceful, apart from a small clash between the so-called unionists - the supporters of Moldova's union with Romania - and supporters of Dignity and Truth.

The protesters are demanding the resignation of the president, the government and are calling for early elections.

So far there has not been any response from the government. The leaders of Dignity and Truth, many of whom are journalists, lawyers and other public figures in Moldova, have called for civil disobedience until their demands are met.

A leaked report last week said that a 28-year-old businessman, Ilan Shor, was the main co-ordinator and beneficiary - but in an exclusive BBC interview he proclaimed his innocence.

Much of the money passed through UK companies.

Many demonstrators have been camped out in the city centre since a similar protest last Sunday.

And organisers from the Dignity and Justice movement have warned that their supporters will stay camped out near the government building in Chisinau's main square until their demands are met.

Many protesters directed their criticism at Moldova's super-wealthy oligarchs - a source of much anger in one of Europe's poorest countries.

Sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, Moldova signed an association agreement taking it closer to European Union membership last year, despite opposition from Moscow.