ALBANIA: Mass Riots Rock Country Ahead of Elections

By Mike Talavera

This week police fired tear gas and unleashed water cannons as protesters attempted to break into parliament in the Albanian capital of Tirana. The clash follows a month of protests demanding that the elections scheduled for June 30 be held earlier and calling for an end to government corruption.

The masses have targeted Prime Minister Edi Rama in particular, last weekend throwing Molotov cocktails at his office. In response to the police barricade of the building, the masses redirected their attention to the police station, injuring at least twelve police officers.

The masses set fire to a police station in Tirana in response to state repression

This anger is spurred by substantiated suspicions that Rama and others in the government are guilty of collaborating with drug cartels, embezzling funds, buying votes, intimidating the press, among other crimes against the people.

Formally a socialist country and one that resisted Russian social-imperialism after Stalin’s death, Albania has been torn apart by the conflicting interests of US and Russian imperialism. The so-called democratic government of the 1990s encouraged up to one-third of Albania’s population into Ponzi schemes set up to help the country transition backwards to a market economy. When these schemes began to collapse in 1996, massive protests led to the army deserting its posts, and lumpen gangs and crime syndicates raiding the country’s armories.

Albania opposition protest outside the parliament
Protesters tear down barricade in Tirana during anti-government riots

Since then, the masses of Albania have suffered immensely. Opponents of Rama are taking advantage of the righteous anger of the masses with slogans calling for the country to join the European Union. These politicians would have the people of Albania trade the drug-traffickers and swindlers of Rama’s administration for European imperialism, backed by the US, the number one enemy of the world’s people.

Despite the lack of Communist or even progressive leadership, the Albanian masses deserve international support as they continue to rebel against the reactionary state.