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Moldova blames Romania for riots, expels ambassador

Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin has accused Romania of involvement in the riots in Chisinau, announcing visa restrictions for Romanians and the expulsion of the country's ambassador.
CHISINAU, April 8 (RIA Novosti) - Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin on Wednesday accused Romania of involvement in the riots in Chisinau, announcing visa restrictions for Romanians and the expulsion of the country's ambassador.

Protests in Moldova's capital against the ruling Communist Party's victory in Sunday's elections turned violent on Tuesday with 5,000 rioters taking control of the presidential residence and nearby parliament building. Some protesters called for the unification of Moldova with Romania.

"We made the decision to impose visa restrictions with Romania," Voronin said during a meeting with representatives of civil groups in the government building. "Moreover, the Romanian ambassador to Moldova has been declared persona non grata."

Voronin said Romania's influence in the riots was "very serious" and that the government knew who was behind the events, though some of them had escaped.

"Romania is involved in everything that has happened," the president said, adding "Patience also has its limits."

Voronin said he met with opposition leaders on Tuesday and warned them of the possible consequences if the violence resumes. "They should concede defeat with decency," he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed on Wednesday the Moldovan opposition's calls for fresh parliamentary elections, noting that international monitors had called Sunday's polls fair.

"We are deeply concerned by what happened in Moldova yesterday, I hope the situation will be taken under control," Lavrov said in Moscow. "Demands for fresh elections and the revision of the vote results are absolutely groundless as all international monitors agreed that the election complied with democratic and legal norms."

Representatives of two major opposition parties, Our Moldova and the Liberal Democratic Party, denied on Wednesday they had anything to do with the riots.

"What happened yesterday had nothing to do with the Liberal Democratic Party. We are not planning to call for anyone to hit the streets today," Alexander Tenase said.

Voronin told civil groups that the authorities could use force if the mass disorder resumed on Wednesday.

"I tried to prevent bloodshed in 1989 and 1991, when I was interior minister," the president said. "Yesterday I was almost ready to take such a decision. Corresponding measures could be taken in the future if this happens again. The authorities have the grounds to take such steps, in line with the law."

At least 176 people were hurt in Tuesday's rioting. A hospital director said on Wednesday that 78 members of the public were injured, 14 of whom have been hospitalized, although all were stable and none of their injuries were life-threatening.

The Interior Ministry, meanwhile, said 96 police officers were injured, with 43 of them hospitalized.

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