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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moldova Slaps Ban on Opposition

CHISINAU, Moldova -- The pro-Russian Communist government in Moldova suspended the activities of the main opposition party Tuesday following street protests against actions perceived to bring the country closer to Russia.

Justice Minister Ion Morei banned all activities of the opposition Popular Christian Democratic Party for 30 days, saying the pro-Romanian party had illegally organized street protests in the Moldovan capital and disrupted traffic.

The ban of the party means it can no longer use its bank accounts, publish newspapers or take part in electoral campaigns, Morei said, adding he might completely outlaw the party if anti-government demonstrations continue.

Lawmakers for the opposition Popular Christian Democratic Party called the decision "illegal and abusive" and said they would appeal to Moldova's Supreme Court. "The ban is an attempt by the Communists to intimidate the democratic opposition and eliminate an opponent in the coming local elections," said Stefan Secareanu.

Secareanu argued that the protests -- which have attracted thousands daily for the past two weeks -- do not need permission because they are organized as rallies attended by lawmakers and their supporters.

The demonstrators are protesting against the government's plan to make Russian an official language, alongside Moldovan, which is virtually identical to Romanian. They also reject the introduction of Russian as a mandatory foreign language in Moldovan schools.

Many Moldovans fear the measures are a first step toward a return to the old Soviet days, when Russian was mandatory in all Moldovan schools and authorities discouraged the use of Moldovan.