A parade of Moldova's most vulnerable people slowly passes beneath the stately parliament building. They were brought in by bus in large numbers from all over the nation, each with their own personal story of deprivation and resentment.
Some people scream, "We're a laughing stock; the government is mocking us.".
There are people with four or five children who literally have nothing to eat, Ala, who is wearing a blue woollen hat, says as she presses her wide pale face close to mine. ".
The president of Moldova claims that energy costs in this country currently account for more than 70% of household income.
They take away half of Ala's pension, she claims.
"This government promised to raise salaries and pensions when we elected them, but so far we haven't seen a penny," she claims.
The pro-Russian Sor party of Moldova organized the demonstrations on Sunday, and they are being closely watched by governments throughout Europe and beyond. According to reports, the Sor party paid for the majority of the protesters' bus transportation to the capital city of Chisinau.
President Maia Sandu warned that Russia was planning to send military-trained saboteurs into the country in order to overthrow her pro-Western government days before the meeting.
According to Russia, the accusation is an effort by the authorities in Moldova to draw attention away from their own social and economic shortcomings.
Because of its strategic border location with Ukraine and the presence of a pro-Russian breakaway region, Moldova is reliant on Russian gas.
The Moldovan government in Chisinau was under pressure as a result of Moscow's half-cut in supply last year as it attempted to maintain unity among its Romanian and Russian-speaking populations.
Last autumn, demonstrations against the rising cost of gas and electricity started.
The energy crisis, which, according to President Sandu, "was expected to cause major discontent among the population and lead to violent protests," had already been used by Russia to try to destabilize the situation in Moldova.
"Diversionists with military training [...] who would engage in violent action, carry out attacks on buildings of state institutions, or even take hostages," she claimed, was the current plan.
Following security checks, 57 citizens of countries friendly to Russia, including a group of Serbian soccer fans and several boxers from Montenegro, have been refused entry to Moldova in recent days.
Additionally, this week Moldova's airspace was unexpectedly shut down for a number of hours.
According to Rosian Vasiloi, head of Moldova's border police, "Russia is clearly an aggressor state.". Although he emphasized that the threat was "different now; it's a mix of threats from inside and outside Moldova," he stated that it had been present since February 24, when the Ukraine war started.
He thinks the risks for Moldova are lower as long as Ukraine fights on and prevails in the conflict.
"Moldova is next if Ukraine falls," he declared. "However, I don't fear. ".
Since the start of the conflict, President Sandu's administration has worked to wean the nation off its reliance on Russian gas by diversifying its energy sources, but attacks on Ukraine's infrastructure and the price of importing electricity from Romania have made this difficult.
She has called for parliament to pass stricter security laws and claimed that the alleged Russian plot would be dependent on "internal forces" like the opposition Sor party.
The general secretary of Sor, Marina Tauber, who organized today's demonstration outside of parliament, claims that her party is not against the EU and favors good relations with all parties.
Some members of her party, however, have admitted they would welcome Russian intervention.
We meet party Councillor Iurie Berenchi in Orhei, a Sor stronghold an hour's drive north of the capital Chisinau.
He assured me, "We're not afraid. If Russia wanted to take Moldova, they'd do it in a half-day. ".
When questioned about her position on that, Ms. Berenchi is unambiguous.
"In my opinion, yes," he replied. We would be much better off with Russia than we are without her. ".
A lot of people in Chisinau believe that closer ties with the West are necessary to protect Moldova's democracy and independence at this crucial juncture. In parliament, President Sandu's party holds a commanding majority. .
The crowd on Sunday, however, had a different perspective, and there is a chance that the pressure will widen existing divisions in Moldova's diverse society.
When Ala and her friends were asked if they thought Russia intended to infiltrate Moldova as their president fears, the danger was obvious.
They exclaim, "Yes, let them come!". "We need them to visit us. We desire to be a component of Russia.