Until 1940, when Moldova was a part of Romania, there was no language called Moldovan: the language spoken in this region was Romanian, but after the USSR occupied this territory, the language was renamed in the attempt to sever all ties with Romania and to justify the occupation. Even the Latin alphabet was changed back to the Cyrillic alphabet. Also, during Soviet rule, Romanian speakers were encouraged to switch to the Russian language, this being a prerequisite for higher education, social status and political power.
In 1989 Moldovan was declared the official language of Moldova, and the Romanian version of the Latin alphabet was restored.
After the independence of Moldova in 1991, the constitution that followed acknowledged Moldovan as the official language. A 1996 attempt by the Moldovan president Mircea Snegur to change the name of the language to Romanian was dismissed by the Moldovan Parliament.
In 2002 the government of Moldova tried to give the Russian language the same privileges as Moldovan, and it was declared to be a mandatory foreign language in schools. This created a wave of indignation among the Romanian-speaking majority of the population, and rallies against this decision were organized in Chişinău and other major cities.
In 2003 a Romanian-Moldovan dictionary was published, suggesting that the two countries speak different languages, although the linguists of the Romanian Academy declared that all the Moldovan words are also Romanian words. Even in Moldova, the head of the Academy of Sciences' Institute of Linguistics, Ion Bărbuţă, described the dictionary as an "absurdity", serving political purposes.