CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) – Young Moldovans have outwitted their Communist leaders with Twitter.

The social network came in handy after mobile phone networks went down and cable news television stations went off air on Tuesday as 10,000 people protested what they say were rigged elections. Some stormed Parliament and the offices of President Vladimir Voronin in violent riots that left more than 90 injured and led to 200 arrests.

Television stations around the world on Tuesday aired images of the violent protest, with the parliament and Voronin’s offices on fire.

But in Moldova, where press freedoms are weak, state television chose to broadcast a soap opera and another station showed images of dance routines.

So the pro-European protesters turned to Twitter and the Internet to keep in touch.

“We sent messages on Twitter but didn’t expect 15,000 people to join in. At the most we expected 1,000,” said Oleg Brega, who heads the non-governmental pro-democracy group Hyde Park.

He added that the attack on Parliament and the adjacent presidential office was not planned.

It’s not just the very young who turned to modern means to find out what was happening and join the protests, now in their third day.

Sergiu Ciobanu, a 29 year-old businessman, said, “In Moldova, most of the media is controlled by the Communists, the Net is one of the only free sources of information where there is no censorship, where you can find out what’s going on. It’s one place where you can feel free.”

“I think that’s why the mobile phone system wasn’t working yesterday. They wanted to stop us communicating by text message,” Ciobanu said.

The Communists appear to have realized the news blackout did not stop information traveling freely.

On Wednesday, state television sporadically broadcast images from Wednesday’s protest of 3,000.



Associated Press Writer Alison Mutler in Bucharest contributed to this report.


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