The tiny country of Moldova was once the Romanian province of Bessarabia. Though predominantly Romanian in population, Bessarabia was forcibly amputated from Romania by Stalin in 1945, ostensibly as punishment for siding with Germany, but really because it had Europe's largest oilfields. After undergoing the horrors of communism, including mass executions, deportations, and imprisonment of anyone deemed unreliable, Moldova remained a part of the Soviet Union until the dissolution of that tyranny, but has stayed under Russia's thumb since. While today even Russia isn't ruled by a communist party (Putin's Unity Party could be better described as Peronist), Moldova remains the sole European state ruled by communists.
Which is just the way Putin and Medvedev like it. Despite past obvious vote-rigging, on Sunday the Communist Party of Moldova "won" parliamentary elections with just over 50% of the vote. The opposition claims the vote was rigged again. And young Moldovans aren't happy.
The tiny republic of Moldova erupted in violence today as anti-communist demonstrators stormed the parliament in protest at what they said were rigged elections.
Angry crowds smashed windows and threw furniture and computers from the building after overwhelming riot police in the capital Chisinau. Up to 20,000 people were said to be on the streets, many chanting "Freedom, freedom" and "Down with the communists".
At least 30 protesters and police were reported hurt in clashes. Police fired tear gas and water cannon to try to regain control as the demonstrators, many of them students, lit fires and attacked a nearby presidential administration building.
20,000 people organizing in such a short time is quite a feat. Dmitri Medvedev, the Russian President, claims it's a pre-orchestrated plot by the European Union, which must be news to actual Europeans, whose governments can't agree on a uniform tariff for cheese.
In fact, the outside agitating forces are American in origin, though they're international now. You probably know them. They're your friends Facebook and Twitter.
If you asked me about the prospects of a Twitter-driven revolution in a low-tech country like Moldova a week ago, my answer would probably be a qualified "no". Today, however, I am no longer as certain. If you bothered to check the most popular discussions on Twitter in the last 48 hours, you may have stumbled upon a weird threat of posts marked with a tag "#pman" (it's currently listed in Twitter's "Trending Topics" along with "Apple Store", Eminem, and Easter).
No, "pman" is not short for "pacman"; it stands for "Piata Marii Adunari Nationale", which is Romanian name for the biggest square in Chisinau, Moldova's capital.
Which is precisely where the crowds are. Though it's around midnight in Chisinau, in the five minutes it's taken me to write this post there have been 72 new twitters/tweets with the hash-tag #pman. Most are in Romanian, but a growing number are appearing in English, as the world takes notice.
I'm about to add one myself. Too often, Americans think of the internet as a way to chat or to shop. Those are wonderful things, but the internet also provides a communication tool that can change the world.
Which is why the World so desperately wants to control it.