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Vlad Plahotniuc investigated in Romania for organized crime, blackmailing, money laundering and fraud

The Democrat leader and oligarch, Vlad Plahotniuc, is reportedly investigated by Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism based on the testimony delivered by the Moldovan businessman Veaceslav Platon in August 2016.

Buying shares together in Victoriabank and now-inexistent Banca de Economii

According to the leaked testimony and the corresponding prosecution order, Platon accused Plahotniuc of forcing him to participate in the acquisition of shares of Victoriabank, Banca de Economii, SA Asito, Victoria Asigurări, SA Alfa Engineering. Moreover, Plahotniuc is said to have influenced the National Bank of Moldova to block one major shareholder of Victoriabank that allowed the selling of his shares later on the market with a lower price. The Democrat oligarch allegedly got the shares in his possession through proxies like the Parliament speaker Andrian Candu, his close partner Sergey Yaralov, Vladimir Andronache and other persons from the circle of the Democratic Party of Moldova.

Platon, condemned in Moldova to 18 years of prison for frauds and money laundering, complained to the Romanian prosecutors that his multiple letters of complaints and demands were ignored by the National Bank and the investigation organs in Moldova, presumably under Vlad Plahotniuc’s influence.

Plahotniuc’s three citizenships and changing identities

In his confession, Veaceslav Platon, known also as Kobalev, underlined that Plahotniuc used several identities in the Republic of Moldova (Vladimir Plahotniuc), Romania (Vlad Plahotniuc, Vlad Ulinici), and the Russian Federation (Vladimir Plahotniuc). The oligarch was and probably is still a citizen of all three states.

Based on Platon’s statements, Romanian Prosecutor Raluca Negulescu launched a penal investigation on the fact of constituting an organized crime group, blackmailing, fraud and money laundering. The investigation is possible because Plahotniuc is a Romanian citizen. The order of launching penal investigation against Vlad Plahotniuc dates back to 17 April 2017.

Platon’s testimony was submitted on 3 August 2016, when Plahotniuc’s former business partner was under arrest in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism has not issued a statement on the leaks yet.

What did Platon do (according to the Moldovan prosecution system)?

Veaceslav Platon was accused of benefiting from high-risk loans from the former Banca de Economii in the value of 800 million lei: 130 million lei, 12 million USD and 5 million euros. He was arrested by the SBU of Ukraine on July 25th. Businessman Veaceslav Platon was extradited from Ukraine to Moldova on August 29th, 2016 with a charter flight, for which the Moldovan Interior Ministry claimed to have paid only 1690 US dollars. Some say that the half-legal extradition was personally ordered by the Democrat leader and oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc. Anticorupție found that the charter flight used for the extradition cost around 15 thousand US dollars.

Who is Vlad Plahotniuc, de facto?

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.

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

Important

A military helicopter has collapsed in the Transnistrian region

An MI-8 helicopter of the so-called Transdniestrian Air Force has suffered an accident on the territory of the Tiraspol airfield. The accident occurred on September 20, and three people were on board. The helicopter is totally destroyed, and nothing about the fate of passengers is known, says Runway08, a blog about aviation.

On the other hand, in a press release published on the site of the so-called Defense Ministry of the separatist republic, the incident is confirmed, but it is said that the helicopter suffered little mechanical damage, and those on board ended up with light injuries.

According to the separatist authorities, in order to determine the circumstances in which this accident has occurred, an investigation was initiated.

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Weekly Roundup: Kozak is back, EU Council concerned about Moldova, Shor threatens with a belt

The Weekly Roundup is back after a two weeks break. Sorry about that, the world outside the window was more attractive to the editor that the news in Moldova.


Protests of the opposition continue: The pro-European extra-Parliamentary opposition parties, united under the ACUM Committee, continue their protests in Chișinău, asking for the validation of the Chișinău mayor election results and the reform of the electoral law for the Parliamentary elections which are expected to take place after 30 November this year, but before February 2019.


Protests against the opposition: Infamous banker, businessman, and Orhei mayor, Ilan Shor, gathered his supporters this week in front of the office of PAS party. Shor and his fellas condemned the declarations of the Liberal-Democrats and opposition leaders Maia Sandu and Andrei Năstase, who suggested Shor’s so-called “social shops” should be regarded as tools to launder the latter from the image of the “billion thief”.

Dionis Cenușa argues in an opinion piece that Shor’s protest is just an attempt to get public attention ahead of the Parliamentary elections and to hit the opposition leader Maia Sandu who criticized him for being the “architect of the billion theft”. His 80 (or so) social shops represent tools to use the poor, aged electorate in his penal and political cases.

Shor went further by threatening Sandu and Năstase with a belt in a Facebook video but also promising “lustration” to “every journalist” who “wrote bad things” about this protests. We can ignore the high price of the belt- Shor was and is known to be rich enough-, but the threatening part is how he promises to use the belt- by slapping Sandu’s and Năstase’s buttocks. Funny or not, it is true:

The media NGOs already condemned Shor’s threats.


Liberal Democrats ask the Constitutional Court to step in: The Liberal-Democratic caucus in the Moldovan Parliament and one Liberal, MP Lilian Carp, asked the Constitutional Court to give its opinion on whether courts can issue decisions on electoral frauds when there are no legal provisions on a specific type of frauds, and whether courts can annul election results if they are not asked to.

The complaint comes after Andrei Năstase’s election as Chișinău mayor was canceled based on a complaint of his opponent to consider three Facebook videos in which Năstase calls on the voters to go out and vote for whoever they want as a deviation from the law.


EU Foreign Affairs Ministers concerned about the situation in Moldova: The EU’s Foreign Affairs Council underlined the need to step up reforms in governance, justice, the fight against corruption, economic reform and the business environment in the six Eastern Partnership countries, reports IPN.

The foreign ministers underlined “the need to step up reforms in areas such as governance, justice, the fight against corruption, economic reform and the business environment”, especially in Moldova.


The new IRI survey is out and it reveals interesting trends: Support for EU membership is slightly increasing, Moldovans are unsatisfied with the pace of change in the country, Dodon’s rating is stagnating (it’s summer though, the President spends more time for trips than for crises of trust in governmental institutions), Democrats are not doing well in polls.

More details and pictures in our article:

IRI Survey: 46% of Moldovans would vote for joining the European Union, 36%- Eurasian Union


One finger thick asphalt:

150 meters of a road in the Varvareuca village in Moldova were paved with one finger asphalt layer. Locals reported that the asphalt can be taken out with the hand. The company in charge already promised to repair the road with its own money. The road reparation was part of the bigger project of the Moldovan Democrats on the village roads.


80/270: Moldova’s Parliament recently approved the agreement on the 80 million euros loan from the EBRD for the electricity interconnection with Romania. The project containing a BtB station in Vulcănești, a 400kV line between Vulcănești and Chișinău, the expansion of the station in Chișinău and the extension of the Vulcănești station to 400 kV.

The investment, partly covered by EIB, EBRD, WB loans and an EU grant, will cost 270 million euros and is expected to be recovered from the transport tariff.


1032,9 minutes: That’s how much time a truck spends on average at the most crowded and most used border checkpoints of Moldova, reads a “Moldova’s trade corridors assessment” report concluded by Nathan Associates and financed by the USAID.

The report shows that the 90% of Moldova’s goods exports rely on the road infrastructure and road transport.  Leușeni-Albița checkpoint at the Moldovan-Romanian border accounts for 23% of the total crossings by delivery trucks. Although recognizing Moldova’s favourable geographical position, the experts underlined that the country lacks transportation and logistics infrastructure that would foster the trade, especially through the Romanian border- where the biggest trade barriers are found. The average waiting time for trucks crossing from Moldova to Romania can be even 16 times longer than in other 23 EU-nonEU border crossings.

Number of trucks crossing the checkpoints

The key issues affecting Moldova’s trade corridors are reported to be: Poor and insufficient infrastructure, Trade facilitation and border delays, Asymmetrical information in markets and lack of information systems, Lack of affordable and sustainable financing.

The authors of the report recommend the following solutions for ensuring the development of Moldova’s trade corridors:

1. Improving the Logistics Sector’s Institutional Effectiveness
2. Ensuring Supportive Policies and Legislative and Regulatory Frameworks
3. Improving Trade Facilitation
4. Developing Efficient and Productive Infrastructure
5. Providing an Efficient Transport Logistics System
6. Facilitating Sustainable Financing
7. Logistics Sector Promotion

We obtained a copy of the report summary.


Rise of illiberal civil society in the former Soviet Union? 

A report of the UK-based Foreign Policy Centre shows a significant of the so-called “illiberal” civil society groups in countries like Moldova.

The pieces on Moldova reveal the groups of “illiberal” thinking:  the far right, conservative groups and the Church, but also the socially conservative (at least, publicly recognized) parties such as the Socialists’ Party.

The authors of the report recommend the respective authorities to:

  • Take urgent measures to tackle corruption and improve transparency;
  •  Investigate attacks on minorities and scrap any partnerships with nationalist groups involved;
  • Protect the ability of liberal civil society groups to operate freely without intimidation;
  • Disband any armed militias affiliated to political parties or extremist groups.

At the same time, the authors argue that the international community should:

  • Increase political pressure and sanctions on the activities of ostensible ‘pro-European’ or ‘liberal’
    allies whose corruption or malpractice brings such principles into disrepute;
  • Insist on action to tackle hate crimes and offer greater support and resources to do so if political
    willingness to act can be ensured;
  • Look for opportunities for diplomatic dialogue with the dominant religious institutions;
  • Continue to refine and improve ‘myth-busting’ and anti-propaganda responses;
  • Support efforts to improve survey and research data about illiberal civil society attitudes;
  • Work with liberal minded NGOs to  find new ways to engage the ‘movable middle’.

56: Moldova’s Security and Intelligence Service has identified 56 Moldovan citizens who had been or are working as mercenaries in Eastern Ukraine since the start of the conflict in 2014.


Kozak is back: Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak was earlier in the month appointed as the Russian

presidential special representative for developing trade and economic relations with Moldova.

“I hope that he [Kozak] – with his expertise – will be capable of promoting our cooperation substantially,” Putin told Dodon, as quoted by TASS.

Dmitry Kozak is known for his role as a special envoy to Moldova in early 2000s on the Transnistrian issue. Back in 2003, Kozak tried to conclude a memorandum that would define a political settlement to the Transnistrian conflict, a settlement including the federalization of Moldova, seen with high skepticism from Chișinău and the entire right bank.


ECtHR: Russia found guilty of violating rights to property, remedy of 1646 landowners and 3 companies in Transnistria, Moldova

ECtHR: Russia found guilty of violating rights to property, remedy of 1646 landowners and 3 companies in Transnistria, Moldova


ECtHR: Russia guilty of ill-treatment, poor detention conditions of 5 Moldova policemen in Transnistria

ECtHR: Russia guilty of ill-treatment, poor detention conditions of 5 Moldova policemen in Transnistria


“Neutral” number plates for Transnistrian cars: The Moldovan Parliament adopted in the first reading the law on the registration of Transnistrian cars in Moldova. Without paying an import tax, the Transnistrian residents will be able to travel internationally with the help of the so-called “neutral” number plates. They don’t look very neutral though:

Over and out!

https://gov.md/ro/content/reprezentantii-chisinaului-comisia-unificata-de-control-insista-pe-eliminare

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Weekly Roundup: Protests continue in Chișinău, IMF’s third tranche, and NATO’s done with Soviet pesticides

Just a banner from a protest in Chișinău, 1 July 2018

1 July 2018- Here’s another Weekly Roundup. Protests again in Chișinău and many other things…


“Let’s stop the dictator!”: Hundreds of protesters gathered in the Great National Assembly Square on Sunday. They asked for the validation of the results of Chișinău mayor elections, suggesting that the oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, obviously bothered by Năstase’s win, influenced the judicial decision. On June 29th, the Central Electoral Commission took the decision to invalidate the results, after Moldova’s Supreme Court annulled the results.

The initial invalidation decision was a claim that 3 Facebook live videos posted by Năstase on election day and calling people to vote allegedly influenced the results.

The protesters were creative on Sunday’s protest too. Sometimes, sadly creative:


“It’s much more profitable for him to victimize himself”- Moldova’s PM Pavel Filip about mayor-elect-not-validated Andrei Năstase (Washington Post).


DW is attempting to call the current protests Moldova’s Maidan. The leader of the protest movement, Andrei Năstase, is denying this designation, underlining the importance of peaceful means of political protesting.


Here’s Atlantic Council with a bunch of opinions on what’s this protest-thingy is all about for Moldova.


Moldova’s Democratic Façade Crumbles as Supreme Court Invalidates Democratic Election: Mihai Popșoi argues for Jamestown Foundation that Plahotniuc’s smokes and mirrors (read: PR and lobby done outside Moldova) used to hide his anti-democratic techniques might take Moldova back into Russia’s orbit, eventually.


Mogherini and Hahn: We expect the Moldovan authorities to take measures ensuring Chișinău election results are respected

According to Mogherini and Hahh, the “non-transparent invalidation of the mayoral elections in Chișinău”, confirmed by Moldova’s Supreme Court on June 25th, “deprives the people of Chișinău of their democratically-elected mayor, Mr. Andrei Năstase(…)”.

The EU officials are asking the Moldovan authorities to take “appropriate measures” to ensure the election results are respected.
(…)we expect the Moldovan authorities to take appropriate measures to ensure that the results of the Chisinau mayoral elections, as recognised also by national and international observers and reflecting the will of the voters, are respected.

Скузаци, вэ рог: The European Commission’s President has apologized after the phrase ‘Moldovan language’ appeared on its website- calling it a “regrettable administrative error”.

Last month, in the section on the Consultation on the Future of Europe, an option allowed readers to select their preferred language of use – including “Romanian language/Moldovan language”. The Romanian vice-president of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, Andi Cristea, called for the error to be repaired as soon as possible. If only Cristea was more strict with his S&D colleagues, the Moldovan Democrats, as he is with linguistic matters…


“I was informed about fabricated penal charges”: The statement belongs to the UN Human Rights Council expert, Michel Forst, during his visit to the Republic of Moldova. Forst called on the authorities to stop intimidating the human rights defenders and the civil society representatives.


$33,8 million: The IMF approved the review for a new (third in the current programme) disbursement for Moldova.

…the 2018 budget amendment accommodates priority infrastructure needs and other social assistance, consistent with program objectives. Priority spending should be protected, the wage bill should be contained relative to GDP, and budget overruns ahead of the elections should be avoided. (Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair of the IMF Executive Board)

The ECF/EFF arrangements in a total amount of SDR 129,4 million (about US$178,7 million, or 75% of the Republic of Moldova’s quota).


“Transnistria made the first profit from cryptocurrency”: The first mining capacity has already started working, and the government has received its first revenues, prime-minister of the separatist region Alexandr Martynov declared. According to Intellnews, there are multiple sources of revenues: the taxes charged to companies carrying out blockchain mining operations, but also the price of the gas used by the Cuciurgan plant. The latter is reportedly used at its maximum capacity.


1269 tons of Soviet-era chemicals were collected and transported from Moldova for destruction in Poland, with NATO’s support. On 28 June 2018, a NATO-sponsored project focused on the disposal of pesticides and dangerous chemicals in the Republic of Moldova ended.

The last batch of 31 tons of pesticides collected from Sîngerei, Drochia, Edineț districts and Bălţi Municipality were evacuated on the last day from the regional central warehouse from Alexandreni village.

The total cost of the project was 2,2 million euros, covered through a NATO Trust Fund.


Moldovan Church Sidelines Priest In Spat Over LGBT Support: Ghidighici-based priest, Maxim Melinti, was relegated to the role of spectator by the Moldovan Orthodox Church, which banned him indefinitely from officiating services as of June 21, alleging he was “promoting and encouraging sexual minorities and contributing to the development of the LGBT movement in the Republic of Moldova.”

“In me, many have found the man who will understand them and treat them with respect. I do not judge anyone, I just help people get to Christ”, he told reporters at a press conference on June 26. (Radio Free Europe)


Over and out. Come by next week!

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