moldova.jpg
Photograph: EPA/DUMITRU DORU

Thousands of protesters gathered in the capital of Moldova on Sunday to call for early elections and an end to the political influence of oligarchs in the poor Eastern European nation.

Following a march through the streets of central Chisinau, more than 15,000 opponents of the new pro-European government rallied outside the main square to demand the cabinet's resignation, Russian news agencies reported.

In the crowd were members of the grass-roots Dignity and Truth movement, which was formed last year when a billion dollars - about one-eighth of Moldova's gross domestic product - went missing from local banks, crippling the economy.

Also in attendance were supporters of the socialist party, who back Moldova's traditionally strong ties with its former Soviet ruler Moscow and who have denounced the new cabinet as illegitimate.

Last year Moldova signed an association agreement with the EU, angering locals who believe the country has fared better with support from Russia.

There have been frequent protests against Prime Minister Pavel Filip since his appointment earlier this month. Thousands of protesters clashed with police outside the parliament building during his swearing-in ceremony last week.

Many object to Filip's links to fellow Democratic Party member Vladimir Plahotniuc, a wealthy businessman and media mogul who is seen a moving the levers of power in Chisinau.

A pro-government rally that had been scheduled Sunday was called off due to security concerns, Russian news agencies reported.

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