MOLDOVA'S DEEPEST political and identity crisis since it declared independence rocked the republic in March and April. College and secondary-school students staged a series of strikes and demonstrations to protest the current administration's cultural policies. They were joined by large segments of the local intelligentsia and even groups of workers disgruntled by the hardship of the transition to a market economy. The most emotional issue raised by protesters was that of the official language, which the country's 1994 constitution defines as "Moldovan" rather than Romanian. Linguists almost unanimously share the opinion that "Moldovan" is not a distinct language, but merely a dialect of Romanian. They accordingly denounce the distortion of scientific truth for the sake of political manipulation and point to Stalinist-era theories as the inspiration for these linguistic fancies.