Moldovan citizens rallied in the capital city of Chisinau to demand the reunification of Moldova with Romania over the weekend.
The protesters argue that reuniting with EU-member Romania could solve Moldova’s economic and social problems.
Nearly 3,000 Moldovans gathered in the streets of Chisinau and chanted “Goodbye, Russia! Don't forget Bessarabia is not yours,” using the historical name of Moldova.
The demonstrators carried posters bearing slogans such as "Bessarabia is Romania" and “Greater Romania-Old Borders" as they walked towards the Russian embassy in Chisinau, urging Russian troops to leave the region of Transnistria.
The rally was organised by a social platform called Actiunea 2012 (Action 2012), which is run by Romanian and Moldovan NGOs.
Last week, the Romanian director of the movement, George Simion, was declared a national security threat by Moldova’s security agency and deported.
The rally coincided with the commemoration day of Russia’s occupation of Bessarabia (Moldova) 203 years ago.
Moldova and Romania have had a complex relationship since the independence of Moldova in 1991. From that time, unification of both countries has been a popular topic in their politics.
In 2011, Actinuea 2012 (Action 2012) was created to support the reunification of both countries. The platform stressed the year 2012, because the year was the hundredth year of the annexation of Bessarabia (Moldova) by Imperial Russia in 1812.
The supporters of unification see Russian occupation as having prevented the ideal union of Bessarabia (Moldova) with Romania.
Following the Actinuea 2012 movement, the Union Council was created to promote the idea of unification of all Romanian nationals.
Members of both Actinuea 2012 and The Union Council have organised rallies in support of unification.
Although the current attempts, polls and surveys indicated that only 10 to 20 percent of the population want unification.
Although Russia does not formally recognise Transnistria, many of the half a million people living in the region have Russian citizenship and enjoy the support of the Russian state. Russian Cossacks were also involved in the region’s war of independence from Moldova in 1992.
Russia has failed to keep a promise given in 1999 at an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Istanbul to withdraw its troops and weapons from from the region.
In 2014, Transnistria requested to unite with Russia following the annexation of Crimea. It has also been speculated that Russia aims to create a corridor along Ukraine’s southern Black Sea coast to link Transnistria with territories under the control of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Moldova is additionally troubled by pro-Russian sentiment in its autonomous region of Gagauzia, with 98.4 percent of voters in the region expressing a desire for closer relations with the Russian-led CIS Customs Union in a poll conducted last year.