From: Alice Taylor
Albanian Protestors Issue Demands While PM Continues Misinformation Campaign

After seven days of protesting across the country over increased prices, organisers have stated their demands from the government they accuse of stealing from citizens while living an elite and privileged life.

Protests have been going on for seven days and have seen thousands turn out in one of the country’s largest non-partisan demonstrations in years.

They claim price rises go beyond increases caused by war and are due to market manipulation by oligarchs and hefty taxes levied by the government. The accuse the state of corruption and failing to protect the most vulnerable in one of Europe’s poorest countries.

During Tuesday’s protest, one activist revealed a number of demands and gave the government until Saturday to fulfil them.

They include the removal of various taxes on fuel. Currently government taxes account for 53% of the final cost.

They also ask for temporary suspension of VAT on basic food items, expanding the compensation and support scheme for farmers, a proper aid package for pensioners, the disabled, and families until the crisis is over, the investigation and supervision of concessions and expenditures from the state budget, as well as those that could manipulate the market.

Another group of protestors, students from the university, called for the abolition of excise duty on oil, temporary suspension of some other taxes, and the revision of the minimum sustenance level. They called for Rama to resign if these cannot be enforced by Friday.

If the demands are not met by Saturday, protestors said they will gather in large numbers and increase the scope of the protest.

Prime Minister Edi Rama has however continued his misinformation campaign against protestors. After telling them they should be ashamed, and saying the protests serve Russia multiple times, he claimed that the break in protests is due to a lack of finances.

In addition, he said they need time to mobilise others and “bring militants from the districts”, suggesting the protests are politically motivated.

He then said that “only the Kremlin views these scenes with admiration”, referring to his developing rhetoric that the protests are against the consequences of war and favour Putin.

Rama’s rhetoric even included claims that a Brussels official echoed the thoughts, but he was unable to provide any evidence of this. Exit has contacted the Commission to find out if this is their official stance, but no answer has been forthcoming yet.

The government has often used claims of Russian spies, interference, and influence to silence those that criticise them.

In the past few years, they have attacked independent journalists, opposition members, and now civilians, accusing them of involvement with Russia. No evidence for their claims has ever been provided.