When thousands filled the streets of Moldova's capital Sunday in the little country's largest protest in years, their complaint was pretty significant.
Late last year, about $1 billion disappeared in an apparent banking scandal that's mystified Europe's poorest country.
To put that sum into perspective, it's an eighth of the country's GDP. In United States terms, that portion of the economy would add up to more than $2 trillion.
The money reportedly vanished in a series of murky loans dealt out last November by three major banks — one of them state-owned — to as yet unknown recipients.
Officials wised up to the scheme only earlier this year.
Investigators — including the U.S. auditing firm Kroll — are looking into the matter, but officials have kept the details quiet. And a great many Moldovans are mad about it.
They say it's symptomatic of the widespread corruption that's plagued their country since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
That's also why Sunday's protest was about more than just missing money. It drew at least 10,000 demonstrators, police said. If that sounds unimpressive, consider that there are just 3.5 million people in Moldova.
Despite the growing prominence of pro-Western politicians who pledge to pull Moldova closer to Europe, critics claim the authorities have done little to clean up corruption.
Igor Botan, a political analyst and a member of the grass-roots movement that organized Sunday's protest, believes the pro-European ruling coalition was complicit in the crime.
"Our country is a poor and agrarian country," he told GlobalPost on Monday. "But it's home to decent people who want their country to flourish, to be closer to European standards, and for it to find its economic niche alongside the European Union."
The last time protests this big rocked the capital Chisinau was in 2009. Back then, critics say fraudulent parliamentary elections helped thrust the Communist Party — which remains influential there — into power.
Some observers are wondering whether the protests can reach critical mass, just like in neighboring Ukraine.
For now, that seems unlikely.
But Moldovans are no doubt hoping a speedy and successful investigation will return their missing cash, however far-fetched that might seem. If not, that'll mean a hefty tab for taxpayers to cover.
On 12 May 2020 the Chișinău Appeals Court barred Danube Logistics SRL from transferring funds to its Dutch shareholder Danube Logistics Holding BV. Danube Logistics SRL is the operator of Giurgiulești International Free Port located on the maritime section of the Danube.( ) Read all
On the building that once housed the local headquarters of the Soviet secret police in the Russian city of Tver, where 80 years ago thousands of Polish prisoners of war were murdered, plaques commemorating the victims of Stalinist crimes were today removed.( ) Read all
That is the message the country's Constitutional Court sent to the European Union on Tuesday as it delivered a landmark ruling on the legality of the European Central Bank’s bond-buying programs, a decision many observers say challenges both the independence of the ECB and the...( ) Read all
The cost of a three-course meal at Bord For En (Table For One), a pop-up restaurant in Sweden opening May 10, is left to the diner's discretion. And that is diner, singular, just like the restaurant's name suggests.( ) Read all
A new virus, SARS-CoV-2, emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019. Infected persons developed an atypical form of pneumonia, later known as COVID-19. The pathogen created a pandemic, with fatalities throughout the world, and also led to the adoption of restrictive measures...( ) Read all
The two powers amplify discredited conspiracy theories and sow division as they look to undermine the United States. China and Russia have both seized on the novel coronavirus to wage disinformation campaigns that seek to sow doubts about the United States’ handling of the crisis and...( ) Read all
Opinion polls and authoritarian systems don’t go together. However professional or independent the pollster, any results are necessarily skewed as people weigh their responses — especially to questions about the regime — against potential consequences. Political scientists...( ) Read all
The 15-year-old boy from the Yanomami indigenous tribe lived in a remote village such as this one. (CNN) A teenager from an isolated Amazonian tribe who tested positive for Covid-19 has died, raising concerns about the coronavirus' impact on the region's indigenous people.( ) Read all
(CNN)The body of Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean has been found by divers, police said. Members of a dive and rescue team found the body in 25 feet of water, about 2.5 miles from her mother's residence, around 5:31 p.m. Monday, the Maryland Natural Resources Police said in a statement.( ) Read all