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Moscow City Court upholds arrest warrant for Moldova’s Democrat oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc

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10 January 2018- The Moscow City Court upheld an order to arrest the Moldovan oligarch and chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova, Vladimir Plahotniuc, charged with attempted murder, reports RAPSI.

The court reportedly rejected an appeal against the warrant issued by the Basmanny District Court of Moscow. The oligarch is charged with attempted murder- possibly connected to the attempted assassination of the Russian banker Herman Gorbuntsov, seriously wounded in London, in 2012.

Answering to Deschide.md, the spokesperson of the Moldovan Democratic Party, Vitalie Gamurari, declared that Plahotniuc is not officially represented at the Russian courts and that his case is politically motivated- INTERPOL refused to distribute the international arrest warrant issued by the Russian authorities.

Despite the fact he holds no governmental position, Vlad Plahotniuc is known for his control over the Government, judiciary branch, prosecution system and the anti-corruption bodies through his proxy Democratic Party, vassal-parties and particular persons in the top of management of Moldovan state institutions. Vlad Plahotniuc is often called the one and only oligarch left in Moldova, the grey eminence or the puppeteer of Moldovan politics. He was officially elected as the leader of the Democratic Party at the 8th Congress in December 2016. He might be under penal investigation in Romania for allegations of organized crime, blackmailing, money laundering and fraud. Opposition parties accuse Plahotniuc of power usurpation.

Currently studying International Relations at the University of Pécs, Hungary. Study focus: Transnistrian conflict settlement, Moldovan statehood, Moldovan democracy.

Economy

US Ambassador: Moldova’s “progress disappointed” in 2017, some laws are “a step back”

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The United States Ambassador to Moldova, James D. Pettit, declared in a TV8 interview that Moldova’s “progress” was disappointing in 2017. According to Pettit, some laws promoted by the Moldovan authorities constituted “a step back for the country”.

“Last years, the international development partners were slightly disappointed with the lack of progress. Recently, (I) have seen different draft laws that were effectively a step back”, declared His Excellency. As dubious and problematic, Pettit mentioned the switch to the new electoral system and the draft law on the “decriminalizing of the economic crimes”, pushed by the Economy Ministry. At the same time, he pointed out that corruption is the problem number one and that Moldova needs structural reforms, not only technical ones.

Ambassador Pettit is not impressed by the 4% economic growth either:

We are happy to have seen economic growth, but I would say that 4% for such a small country like Moldova is a relatively modest achievement”, added the American Ambassador.

Despite the critique brought by the US and EU Ambassadors, the Prime-Minister, Pavel Filip, did not renounce from the draft law on “decriminalizing economic crimes”, claiming that the idea came out of the “discussions with business”.

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Justice

Moldovan prosecutors conducted over 4300 special surveillance operations in 2017

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The General Prosecution’s Office of Moldova published a short summary of the report on the “special investigation activities” conducted in 2017 by prosecutors.

Within 57313 penal cases, the prosecutors sent 4367 requests authorizing special investigation measures by courts. 50 requests were rejected.

Most frequent “special measures” were:

  • intercepting and recording communication and images- 3142 cases;
  • collecting information from operators of electronic communication services- 803 cases;
  • localizing with technical means such as GPS- 287;
  • researching the domicile and/or placing audio and video recording devices within the domicile buildings- 63;
  • monitoring or control of financial transactions- 12;
  • supervising the domicile through technical means- 10.

In 581 cases, special surveillance actions were authorized directly by the prosecutors:

  • identifying the client, the owner or the user of the communication services- 264 cases;
  • visual surveillance- 151;
  • control of the extorted money or goods transfers- 99;
  • control acquisition- 31;
  • control delivery- 2.

According to the General Prosecutor, the special investigation measures were conducted in investigating “serious, very serious and exceptionally serious crimes”.

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Justice

Minister Tănase says 2011-2016 justice reform failed, announces reforms in the system

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Source: EPA

30 January 2018- The new Justice Minister, Alexandru Tănase, announced new directions for the judicial system reform in Moldova. Tănase believes that the reform from the period of 2011-2016 failed to be implemented.

Some proposals or directions were listed by Agora.md, quoting Tănase:

  • revision of appeal ways- the Minister says the Supreme Court of Justice concentrates too much competence, compared to other two judicial levels;
  • redrawing the role of the Supreme Court of Justice- limiting the number of judges, resizing it to a Cassation Court;
  • examining the decisions of the Supreme Court by judicial control;
  • eliminating the temporary judges meant for preventive arrests, instituting judges for rights and liberties;
  • reducing the number of penal sentences- making the Supreme Court trials public and open for the condemned persons;
  • reforming the geographical distribution of cases in courts- Chișinău Appeal Court allegedly approx. 45%;
  • planning a proper budget for the judicial system;
  • improving the autonomy of the Judiciary Inspection;
  • transparent repartition of cases;
  • ensuring the audio recording of trials;
  • improving the autonomy of the Supreme Council of Magistrates in forming its own budget;
  • consolidating the role of the Council in the procedures of appointing and firing judges- limiting the role of the Prosecutor General, Justice Minister;
  • attempting to eliminate the unjustified delays in examining the cases;
  • revising the mediation tool in the judicial system.

Tănase told the press that his Ministry did not consult the Parliamentary parties, but he seemed sure the proposals would get support in the Moldovan legislative body. Moreover, he thinks that the Parliament would adopt some of the proposed modifications until the end of the spring session, and others in the following years.

On 11 October 2017, the European Union announced the decision not to transfer any funds to the budgetary support for justice reforms in Moldova because of observed inefficient use of funds during 2014 and 2015, but also little commitment to delivering real reforms. Thus, the 28 million euros for 2017 were not transferred to the Moldovan Government.

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