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East or West? Celebrating Victory Day and Europe Day at the same time

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For 3 years, people in the Republic of Moldova have been debating what is more important: celebrating Victory Day or Europe Day on the 9th of May? In 2017, the Parliament of Moldova adopted a law to make Europe Day an official holiday in Moldova, along with Victory Day.

Every political party, regardless of the political views, organize a celebration on this day. This year, the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) and the Șor Party organised concerts, parades and demonstrations for celebrating Victory Day, whereas the political bloc ACUM, the Liberal Party (LP) and the National Unity Party (NUP) celebrated Europe Day. Another political actor – the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM) tried to please everyone and organised a holiday of “peace and prosperity for Moldova”.

At the same time, the Moldovan Government decided to focus merely on Victory Day and postponed Europe Day for the following weekend, on May 11th-12th. In such a way, they considered the conflict of interests resolved.

Now it’s the proper moment to ask: what is the problem with having 2 different holidays on the same day? In fact, they are not even contradictory. On the contrary, they are related, as the end of World War II and the surrender of the Allies armed forces (which is celebrated on May 8th in Europe) represented an important drive for the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community – the forerunner to the European Union. Actually, the only problem with it is the context of the Moldovan social and political behaviour.

First, both holidays are politicized and are transformed into an apple of discord deliberately, as the Moldovan politicians, especially those who are in power today, understand very well that a divided society means a weaker society; therefore, an easier to control society. The debates about directing Moldova to West (the EU) or East (the CIS) never stopped in Moldova. On May 9th, everyone argues about that: the governors, official representatives of the civil society, activists and, consequently, common people that instead of taking time to discuss their real problems, new businesses, initiatives, projects, protests against the injustice that is done to them, most of them are dividing in groups, spreading hatred and treating superficially the true meaning of both celebrations.

People forget that Victory Day is not about expensive concerts organised by the socialists or buckwheat with pickled cucumbers served in the city centre by the democrats. It is not about pompous demonstrations that involve children who are forced to dance synchronously instead of listening from their parents, grandparents and teachers about the tragic consequences of the Second World War.

Children singing and dancing on Victory Day| Photo: ZdG

On the other hand, Europe Day is more than classical music concerts organised in the central park of the Moldovan capital. Behind the exposed photo galleries are people that have been working a lot, searched and applied for European funds, people that didn’t expect somebody to simply come and save them from the poverty, corruption, injustice, etc. Unfortunately, such people are still not enough in Moldova and Europe Day is treated by the majority just as superficially as any other holiday in Moldova: an occasion to eat out, listen to concerts’ music and have fun.

Moreover, the governmental institutions and some big media outlets present the events happening on May 9th as a natural occurrence. So, the fact that several political parties ‘marked’ their territories in the city centre of Chișinău, organizing their own events for their own electorate is considered normal. The direct use of propagandist methods combined with avoidance to declare the events’ costs by the political parties is not a problem in Moldova.

We live nowadays in a country stuck between Eastern and Western worlds, which can perfectly make it without our existence. We live in a country with poor people, morally poor first of all, as we don’t really know much about our past and don’t care as much about our future.  None of these two holidays real meaning is interesting for the biggest majority of the population. We just love their symbolism that takes us back in the past or enables us to dream about the future. May 9th is just another reason to celebrate, not more than that.

Photos: Ziarul de Garda

Society

How much alcohol do Moldovans consume? The repercussions and solutions of this problem

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The Republic of Moldova is one of the few countries in this world that celebrates the “National Wine Day”. The celebration is organised every year on first weekend of October. Thousands of people gather, at that time, in the city centre of Chișinău to taste newly appeared on the market, as well as popular types of wine produced by wineries from all over the country. The fete of 2019 hosted 68 wine producers.

At the same time, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global status Report on Alcohol and Health for 2018 says that Moldova has the highest levels of alcohol consumption per capita in the world. Even though the trend of alcohol consumption in Moldova is decreasing, as it dropped from 21.6 litres per capita in 2005 to 15.1 litres per capita in 2016 for persons over 15 years, that still does not remove it from this top.

According to the report, Moldovans mostly drink wine – 57% of their consumption is represented by wine, followed by 25% spirits and 16% beer.

Alcohol and health

It is not as important to analyse the quantity of the drunk alcohol, as the way it is consumed and the effects on the population. Therefore, the same WHO report states that, in 2016, 1907 persons out 100 000 died of liver cirrhosis, 188 out of 100 000 died of road traffic injuries and 799 out of 100 000 died of cancer. According to national statistics, there were also recorded 3.5 deaths per 100,000 people caused by alcohol intoxication in 2016.

source: time.com

Alcohol is the cause of over 200 different diseases, including: neuropsychiatric disorders (epilepsy, depression, anxiety), digestive disorders (alcoholic liver cirrhosis, acute and chronic pancreatitis, alcoholic gastropathy), cancers (of the digestive tract and breast) or cardiovascular diseases (ischaemic, hemorrhagic, hypertension). Sexual dysfunctions are also very common – impotence for men and frigidity for women. When consuming an excessive amount of alcohol, the general tone of the body decreases, the interests, the goals in life disappear.

Alcohol abuse by pregnant women presents an essential danger to the unborn child. When a pregnant woman drinks, alcohol is accumulated in the fetus’s body. The toxic effect is extremely high during intrauterine development, causing irreversible damage to the central nervous system of fetus: neurons do not develop properly, some cells are destroyed, others develop abnormally, as Ministry of Health is warning.

Alcohol and teenagers

Young people alcohol consumption is another alarming phenomenon in the Moldovan society. The data (the 2015 ESPAD Report) shows that, in Moldova, 82% of pupils in 8th and 9th grades have consumed alcohol at least once in their lifetime. About 9% of them declared that they already suffered an alcohol intoxication.

Alcohol and drivers

This year, traffic police officers discovered 3751 cases of drunk drivers. Because of drunk drivers, 30 people lost their lives on the country’s roads, and 134 suffered traumas. According to the National Patrol Inspectorate, the information campaigns, operations and sanctions applied by the police seem to be ignored by the drivers, which endanger the safety in road traffic.

source: politia.md

Alcohol and violence

In addition to the impact on health and high risk of causing traumas, the excessive alcohol consumption may have dramatic social consequences, such as relational problems (deterioration of family relationships, separation, divorce, abuse and neglect of children), loss of friends, material difficulties, loss of work, loss of home, social exclusion, legal issues (fines, imprisonment), inappropriate sexual behaviour (unprotected sex, rape, unwanted pregnancy), etc.

According to the WHO report, men consume 4 times more alcohol than women. Therefore, the consumption of alcoholic beverages increases the risk of domestic violence, especially towards women.

A report from 2011 on violence against women in the Republic of Moldova shows that 79% of respondents consider excessive alcohol consumption to be the main cause of domestic violence and a share of 38.7% of women in Moldova are victims of physical violence because of their consuming alcohol husband, whereas 50,4% of women are victims of sexual violence. Even though the data may be a bit outdated and the situation could have been improved in the meantime, the numbers are more than alarming.

Identified solutions

Moldova has a national policy regarding alcohol consumption, implemented excise taxes on alcohol and restrictions for selling alcoholic beverages. In 2012, the Ministry of Health adopted an eight-year national plan to ban certain advertisements, raised taxes on hard liquor, restricted sales hours and raised the legal drinking age from 16 to 18. Also, the government reduced the legal blood alcohol content, made penalties more severe and increased breath testing.

Various measures are tried to be implemented by the local authorities as well. In 2018, the former mayor of Puhoi village, Petru Frunze, promoted an innovative project. He invited 20 alcohol addicted persons to sign an agreement with the mayor’s office, which obligated them to stop consuming alcoholic beverages for half a year. Instead, he promised them jobs and cash prizes worth 1,000 MDL.

source: time.com

The purpose of the initiative was to determine capable to work but alcohol-dependent citizens to be hired and work, thus to reduce domestic violence. Petru Frunze believes that in order to solve the problem of alcoholism in the country, a specialised institution must be created, as Moldova.org reported.

“There should be someone who always watches over them, because otherwise they fall into temptation. It would be good to have an institution at the national level to deal with such things, to develop rehabilitation programs for alcohol addicts. In addition, the problem begins in the teenage years. Even if young people are graduating, they are not encouraged to start to work. There are many jobs that are not so well paid, but still a salary of 5,000-6,000 lei is a better alternative than becoming alcoholic. The state must get involved.”

Currently, the project is no longer carried out in Puhoi. However, it may serve as a good example of trying to solve such social problems on the local level.

Last year, the National Probation Inspectorate, which aims to implement the measures of reintegration of the Moldovan offenders in the society, set up a method to fight drunk or drugged drivers: their driving licences are withdrawn. In order to recover them, drivers have to take special courses.

The program was called “Drink & Drive” and started in March 2019, including 12 sessions. During two of them, the beneficiaries go to the Legal Medicine Centre and the Emergency Hospital. They participate in the autopsy process and even wash the bodies or their places of storage, and in case of emergency, they must provide assistance to road accident victims.

At the same time, the National Police of Moldova launched a telephone line (067 112 902) exclusively for the notification of the Police regarding the cases of drivers driving or attempting to drive their cars while being drunk.

A still existing problem

According to Time, accurate figures for Moldova are hard to reach because up to 70% of consumed alcohol is homemade wine. At the same time, while taxes on hard liquor were raised, beer and wine are still cheap. There is no legal requirement of asking beer and wine consumers to present their ID in Moldovan pubs and bars.

Moreover,  the existing regulations are not effectively enforced. For example, most bars and supermarkets don’t care about the legal time restrictions, nor the about the legal age limits, especially in the countryside.

The law on preventing and combating domestic violence in Moldova still contains lacuna and is not fully enforced to fight this phenomenon.

Photo: time.com

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Culture

A new documentary about the Soviet past of Moldova will be soon released – “The Soviet Garden”

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“The Soviet Garden” is a documentary about a filmmaker from Moldova who was investigating the Soviet experiments in atomic gardening. While inspecting his grandmother’s mysterious death, Dragos Turea, a filmmaker from Moldova, discovered a secret scientific experiment – the plan of Nikita Khrushchev to transform Moldova into a Soviet Garden through the application of atomic energy in local agriculture.

From the moment Nikita Khrushchev decided so, the Moldovan soil was supposed to radiation experiments. The radiation was used to cause mutations in seeds and fruit to obtain crops that are more resistant to climatic conditions or are of higher volumes. All for the sake of harvesting an unprecedented crop, which will feed the whole Soviet Union. “To get water for irrigating the fields, even the rivers were forced to run up the hill,” says Dragoș Turea in the documentary. There were always goals to be reached, records to be exceeded in the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic.

People here were very proud that they deceived nature and executed the Communist Party’s order to grow high volumes of crop, in order to feed the Soviet working class. The price for those experiments is paid today – radiation infected lands, population still being kept uninformed, more and more people suffering from cancer, infested equipment hidden in bunkers, reduced biodiversity, lost seed heritage… Many of those who were involved in those experiments have died very early.

Produced by Parmis Film Studio and RovaFilm, directed by Dragos Turea, “The Soviet Garden” had its world premiere at Sarajevo Film Festival, which was organised from 16 to 23 August, 2019. On October 31st, the movie will be released in Moldova. The premiere will be at the Patria Cinema.

This is an unique chance for people of Moldova, as well as people from abroad (as the movie will have English subtitles) to get to know more about atomic gardening in Moldova, a phenomenon that was hidden from the public, and maybe to reflect more about the relationship between ecological problems and politics.

The trailer of the documentary:

More information here.

Photo: Facebook/The Soviet Garden

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Interesting facts about Chișinău on its Annual Fete

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Every year, on October 14th , the residents of Chișinău celebrate the Annual Fete of the city. You can find below some interesting facts about the celebration of this day and about the history of the capital city in general.

source: zdg.md

  • Every year, besides the usual festivity organised in the city centre of Chișinău, a religious ceremony dedicated to the celebration of the feast day of the “Nativity of Lord” Metropolitan Cathedral is conducted.
  • Another tradition, on Chișinău’s Annual Fete, is the laying of flowers at the monument of the Ștefan cel Mare in the centre of the capital, at 8 a.m.
  • Even though the actual anniversary of Chișinău must be celebrated on July 17th, as the locality was documentarily mentioned for the first time on this date in 1436, it is still used to count its age in October.
  • This year, a wide range of cultural, social and artistic manifestations were organised: exhibitions of crafts, florist, books, paintings and graphics, a musical-choreographic show, food courts, the Municipal Merit Award hosted by the Organ Hall, recitals of a choir from Estonia and a music school from Israel, entertainment activities for elder people, musical shows and concerts with the participation of national and international singers, folk music orchestras, as well as a marching band from Romania. The scheduled events end at 11 p.m. with a firework show.
  • The Annual Fete of Chișinău is celebrated since 1995, when Serafim Urecheanu – the mayor of that time of Chișinău – decided to do so. Initially, it was celebrated on the first Sunday of October. The situation changed due to a decree signed by Vladimir Voronin, the country president back then, who decided to organise the “National Wine Day” on the first Sunday of October. Thus, the municipality had to find a solution to separate the two holidays. The moment happily coincided with ending of the renovation works of the Metropolitan Cathedral, “The Birth of the Lord” on October 14th, 2001.
  • The Annual Fete of Chișinău is celebrated on the same day as the Annual Fete of Tiraspol and Iași.
  • Chișinău became the capital city by the decision of Metropolitan Gavriil Bănulescu-Bodoni and the senator of the city in 1818.
  • The capital city has a population of 844 605 people, out of which 30893 are children, according to data from the State Register of Population.
  • There are 215 282 cars and 292 900 apartments registered in Chișinău.
  • The longest street in the capital city is the Muncești street, having a length of 13 km, the shortest one – Valeri Cikalov street, which has 41 m.
  • About 7% of the total area of the municipality is occupied by green areas and 2.3% is covered by water, that means about 3 square meters of green land for each resident of the city.
  • Also, the capital of the Republic of Moldova is twinned with 16 other cities from different countries of the world such as: Odessa, Iași, Ankara, or Grenoble.

More facts about Chișinău can be found in the infographic made by TV8.

Photo: zdg.md

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