A lot of political confusion has happened in Chisinau over the last days: the newly formed coalition government composed of the political bloc ACUM and the Socialist Party of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) with its informal leader – President Dodon, aim to free Moldova of oligarchy and corruption. However, replacing the democrat PM Pavel Filip isn’t easy, as Filip himself is appointed by the Constitutional Court (CC) as interim head of state. He already signed for dissolving the Parliament, announcing snap elections on September 6th.
No matter how confusing this might be, the background is obviously about the usurpation of power by the oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc who is the leader of the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM) and, by far, the richest man in the country. Plahotniuc is the one who also controls the CC of Moldova, as he appointed the ‘right’ people as judges there. The CC has actively been following Plahotniuc’s orders by constantly annulling every decision made by the new Parliament.
In order to cease the Democratic Party’s pressures and influence, the socialists have finally joined forces with the pro-Europeans from ACUM Bloc. However, according to the Moldovan CC, the deputies failed to form a coalition government within the period prescribed by the constitution. As the constitutional judges said, the deadline expired on Friday. Thereupon, they demanded the dissolution of the parliament. Nevertheless, the deputies met on Saturday. One of the most absurd parliamentary meetings from a couple of days ago turned out to be one of the most crucial one in the history of the Moldovan democracy. On June 8th, the parliament has voted for appointing the ACUM member of the Parliament (MP), Maia Sandu, the prime minister of Moldova and the socialist MP, Zinaida Greceanii, the speaker of the Parliament, during the Saturday’s special session. The decisions were almost immediately declared ‘unconstitutional’ by the CC.
The European Union has taken a “good note of the decisions taken yesterday by the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, including on the formation of the government coalition,” shows the statement by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn on the political situation in the Republic of Moldova. The Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, requested an urgent opinion from the Venice Commission on the latest decisions of the Constitutional Court, including on the conditions of the dissolution of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova. The NATO spokesperson commented the situation, stating that “NATO is following with concern the political crisis in the Republic of Moldova, calling on all political forces in the country to exercise calm and restraint, and to resolve their differences through dialogue, in full respect of the rule of law”. On the other hand, Amnesty International Moldova is deeply worried about the intimidation made recently by journalists and some representatives of parliamentary parties. At the same time, the organization urges all state authorities to comply with the rule of law and international conventions and not to commit abuses.
The Council of Europe calls on all political forces in Moldova to act responsibly now. Political problems should resolved by the country’s democratically elected representatives in Parliament. We are ready to assist Moldova with the necessary reforms. #ECHR #RuleofLaw @coe
— Daniel Holtgen (@CoESpokesperson) June 9, 2019
— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) June 9, 2019
— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) June 9, 2019
— Anders Åslund (@anders_aslund) June 9, 2019
What is happening in #Moldova is essentially a coup attempt. An interest group that controls most state institutions is attempting a hostile and unlawful takeover of power from a lawfully elected government. This is my understanding of the situation. THREAD.
— András Tóth-Czifra (@NoYardstick) June 9, 2019
The essense of the crisis in Moldova is that the oligarchic power is doing whatever to prevent a government formed by majority in the parliament. Firm @eu_eeas @eu_near line necessary. https://t.co/kdyMubnQ7c
— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) June 9, 2019
Now news from Chisinau are awful. EU should react.Mold Parliamentarians speak about state capture.Citizens fear violent escalations.Personalized sanctions ag those behind escalations? @JosephDaul @ManfredWeber @guyverhofstadt @petras_petras @UdoBullmann @ph_lamberts @sandumaiamd https://t.co/AH36GsRZeM
— Rebecca Harms (@RebHarms) June 9, 2019
.@PDMoldova must immediately and peacefully ensure the transfer of power to the parliament and government that represent the majority of the will of the people. As of yesterday, #Moldova is no longer a captured state and it’s time he accepts this.
— Joseph Daul (@JosephDaul) June 9, 2019
Statement by #OSCE Chairperson-in-Office @MiroslavLajcak calls on all political forces in the Republic of Moldova to overcome current political crisis through dialogue, on basis of Constitution and respect for democratic principles and rule of law. https://t.co/yaLBwZiCR2
— OSCE (@OSCE) June 9, 2019
The U.S. calls on all Moldovan parties to show restraint and to agree on a path forward through political dialogue. Ensuring a prosperous and democratic future for Moldova and its citizens is a shared goal the United States will continue to support. https://t.co/uOOMjIRHki pic.twitter.com/IK0Zf9rNps
— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) June 9, 2019
Fully support #Moldova ‘s new government led by @sandumaiamd, based on a democratically elected Parliament. Call for swift & smooth transfer of power, in line with Moldova’s commitments to international standards. @filip_pavel @PDMoldova @FedericaMog“
— davidmcallister (@davidmcallister) June 10, 2019
The staged DPM protests with tents in front of Moldova’s official buildings escalated…
On Sunday morning, the streets of Chisinau were surprised by circulating columns of minibusses. People from various districts of the Republic of Moldova came to Chisinau to take part in a public protest organized by the DPM. People said anonymously that their arrival to the capital was organized by representatives of the DPM. Being afraid to speak about it because of the risk of losing their jobs, the citizens declared that they were offered free transportation, free food, and water. On the other hand, some of them had the nerve to claim that they came to defend their country “against traitors and those who made an alliance in the Parliament at night.”
The Democratic Party, through their staged protest demanding Igor Dodon’s immediate resignation for “the country betrayal”, approved a resolution to this effect, which they took to the Presidency, to hand over to Igor Dodon. There, the protesters were ordered to throw five turkeys over the presidential fence, birds which laid paralyzed, dying on the ground for the entire day.
Karl Luganov, the president of the Human Society Association, says the democrats’ gesture to throw turkeys over the presidential fence is miserable, writes ZdG.
Article 2221 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Moldova provides that the cruel treatment or torture of animals that have caused their mutilation or death in the public or in the presence of minors shall be punished by a fine in the amount of 750 to 1350 conventional units and with unpaid work community benefit from 180 to 240 hours or one to three years in prison.
To this question, Igor Dodon answered that there are two solutions for the political turmoil created in the country.
“The process has already started. What has happened previously will not happen anymore. That’s it,” says Dodon.
According to him, a solution is to call the massive people on the street. Only not for now, as there is a risk of mass disorder. Igor Dodon says he urges all his supporters not to come out on the street as long as the Democratic Party protests are going on.
On the other hand, Maia Sandu thanked the European Union for the support, and addressed a message to the General Police Inspectorate, the General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations and the Department of Carabineer Troops, asking them to abide by the law.
“Peacefully, by obeying the law, the government must come into office. I order you to do your duty to the country and the citizens,” communicated the leader of the ACUM bloc.
Still, “the national army does not interfere in the political crisis and will remain outside political games,” says the official statement of the department.
“In accordance with Article 108 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, the armed forces are subject exclusively to the will of the people in order to guarantee the sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity of the country and constitutional democracy.”
Furthermore, the Ministry of Defense communicated that access to all military units and institutions of the Ministry of Defense is prohibited to anyone except the institution’s personnel.
Why is everything that’s happening so important?
First of all, publishing the Kroll-2 report is one of the actions of the anti-oligarchic package proposed by the ACUM bloc. There are more actions and each of them is strategic.
Even though both the ACUM bloc and the Socialist Party entered the parliament and have reached a common denominator with essentially anti-corruption statements, we – citizens – have no guarantee that there are no Socialist Party members within the Kroll-2 report, who are kept under great secrecy by the Democratic Party. Therefore, as the MP, Dumitru Alaiba, said, this document must first be published in order to minimize the risk that someone who is involved in the main agenda, in some way or another, benefits from the theft of the century.
Citizens do not yet trust the political class, which means that the vision of freeing Moldova from corruption and oligarchy is a major step towards a democratic future.
Will the Moldovan President (re)join the dark side?
Following the political events that took place over the past few days, President Igor Dodon summoned a meeting with the counselors and heads of the President’s office.
“I mentioned the necessity of updating the composition of the Supreme Security Council and calling it urgently. Moreover, today, I will invite the diplomatic corps accredited to the Republic of Moldova to discuss the current situation in the country. We reiterated the importance of promulgating the laws recently adopted by the new parliamentary majority composed of the PSRM and ‘ACUM’,” wrote Dodon on his Facebook page.
The meeting was convened by Igor Dodon in the context in which, this weekend, the Constitutional Court took several decisions criticized by lawyers, which declared the government led by Maia Sandu unconstitutional, but also by which Igor Dodon was temporarily suspended from office.
Will the Moldovan President (re)join the dark side? Dodon has already claimed that Plahotniuc will try to get rid of him, perhaps just like he got rid of Vlad Filat back when the ex-PM betrayed their “friendship.”
In conclusion, the president claims there are three ways that Plahotniuc can get rid of him:
“What the General Prosecutor’s Office is doing and what is going on, Shor, others who now write to the Prosecutor’s Office … According to the law, they have the right to waive the immunity of the president, only by Parliament’s vote,” Dodon said.
- family threats
“There are messages that he’ll arrest my family and children so I that could write my leave request for personal reasons. Their hope is that I will take my family and run out of the country. I’d like to let him know that I won’t give in, and there will be no need of writing me any leave request, regardless of all the dirt and blackmail that will come to me in next hours, days. Do not touch the family, Mr. Plahotniuc,” added Dodon.
- “physical liquidation”
“I could also consider physical liquidation,” said Dodon in an interview.
Commission for Emergency Situations: first pay medical insurance, then enter the country
Starting April 1, all persons returning from abroad are be obliged to commit to buy medical insurance before taking their first step on the Moldovan land. This decision was taken by the Commission for Emergency Situations of the Republic of Moldova.
On March 31, the official mechanism of bringing home the Moldovan citizens who have been blocked abroad was approved.
According to the provision no. 10 approved by the Commission for Emergency Situations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration is in charge of making the lists of Moldovan citizens who have been blocked abroad, the Civil Aeronautical Authority must coordinate the charter flights organisation, while the airline operators have to verify the insurance status of the persons and admit on board only those who paid the compulsory health insurance fee through the governmental system mpay.gov.md.
Therefore, all persons arriving from abroad are obliged to buy medical insurance, regardless of where they come from and whether they arrive by air or by land. Citizens who intend to cross the state border by air have to pay the compulsory health insurance fee before entering the country, while those who cross the state border by land are obliged to fill in a declaration that the fee will be paid within 72 hours.
The Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) notified the Court of Appeal regarding the decision of the Commission for Emergency Situations, saying that the decision is unconstitutional and illegal. “There is no such legal provision that allows the authorities to prohibit people from returning to their home. They are citizens of the Republic of Moldova and such pretexts that if you do not have medical insurance you cannot take a plane ticket and you cannot land in Moldova are intolerable,” said Maia Sandu, the PAS leader, for Jurnal TV.
The measure regarding the health insurance fee payment was commented by the political expert Dionis Cenuşă as well. The specialist says that there is a violation of fundamental human rights.
“Restricting Moldovans’ access to the country if they do not pay for healthcare insurance may have serious implications concerning human rights. […] It is true that the authorities can apply restrictions, including on how Moldovan citizens can return to the country. But, at the same time, the law clearly states that restrictions should not be applied according to a series of criteria, including that of social origin. In other words, when the Commission decided to introduce a payment obligation for healthcare, it automatically produces effects on the people who are forced to return to the country, because they are economic migrants. Therefore, the adopted measure has a discriminatory effect on the principle of social origin because Moldovan emigrants are targeted and, at the same time, because they may be lacking financial resources upon returning to the country,” stated the political expert.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Ion Chicu claimed that all citizens of the Republic of Moldova are obliged to pay the health insurance fee and that Moldovans who come back from abroad are not an exception. “This is not a discrimination, it is about law enforcement,” the prime minister declared for TV8.
The restrictive measure is especially important now, when thousands of Moldovan citizens have lost their jobs abroad and their source of income. Instead of finding the optimal solutions to protect these citizens and ensure their possibility to return home safely, the authorities restrict their constitutional right by conditioning the borders crossing.
The health insurance annual payment in Moldova is currently 4 056 lei (about 204 euro).
The desperate call of Moldovan doctors and the reasons why medical system can’t resist too long
The first medical employee from the Republic of Moldova, Ecaterina Litvinschi – a 79-year-old woman who died because of coronavirus – was buried these days. The woman worked as a medical emergency doctor at at a National Center for Emergency Medicine for about 35 years. According to her relatives’ declarations, she was buried on the edge of a Chisinau cemetery, in a special area where those contaminated with coronavirus were expected to be buried:
sector 277, tomb no. 1
“Historically, those who end their days by suicide were buried on the far side or outside the cemetery. Is that an “honour” attached to a hero doctor?” wondered a relative of the deceased doctor.
Also, the relatives of the medical emergency doctor mentioned that the hospital administration, where the victim was previously hospitalised, insisted to not disclose the fact that Ecaterina was infected being on call to an already infected person, without special equipment and without being warned by the emergency service 112.
Not enough protective measures for medical staff
Out of the currently confirmed 298 cases of infections with COVID-19, 60 are medical workers, according to the information provided by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection. Moreover, until two days ago, authorities refused to present information on cases of COVID-19 infection among medical workers, giving assurances that doctors have protective equipment and urging journalists not to seek sensations.
The National Ombudsman Mihail Cotorobai made a request addressed to Prime Minister Ion Chicu, in which he informed about the intention of a high number of doctors to submit letter of resignation due to the lack of the protective equipment, which would provide safe working conditions to the medical personnel.
Mihail Cotorobai asked to urgently identify additional funds to ensure protective measures against COVID-19 contagion, both at the level of hospital medical institutions and at the level of primary health care centres. “The recommended measures are imperative both to ensure the patients’ right to high-quality medical services, as well as to ensure safety of the employees of the health system who are put at major risk of contagion due to non-working conditions,” the Ombudsman said.
Currently, six medical institutions in the country are being involved in the treatment of coronavirus patients. Next week other district and municipal medical institutions will be delegated to hospitalise infected patients. The authorities announced that a triage centre is prepared to be organised at the Moldexpo Exhibition Center. By Wednesday, it will be fully equipped, including with 700 beds.
“The number of confirmed cases is increasing, we reiterate the call to citizens to be very cautious. We are sure that if we follow the rules, we will not allow a jump in coronavirus cases and we will have the capacity to handle the situation. This gloomy scenario can be avoided if we are supportive. It is clear that we will overcome this situation, and the authorities and citizens will make the necessary efforts,” stated the prime minister during a press conference.
The announcement of the prime minister sounded optimistic. More and more desperate calls appear online though, being posted by journalists, politicians, artists, regarding the precarious situation in the medical institutions of the Republic of Moldova. Most of them are made anonymously, as medical workers fear to lose their jobs.
The member of the Parliament Radu Marian posted on social media, on March 28, a message sent to him by a person whose mother works as a nurse at the municipal hospital in Balti (one of the hospitals involved in the treatment of coronavirus patients).
“My mother is scared to go to work. She receives one mask for 24 hours and 2 pairs of gloves without other equipment. They write something else on the paper. It’s like fighting on a battlefield without any weapons. […] I wrote to you as a child who is afraid of losing his mother because of the incompetence of the authorities and because of the situation in the hospitals of Moldova,” is said in the message.
According to the data presented by the authorities, during this weekend, there were reported the most cases of infection per day since the beginning of the epidemic in Moldova.
Not enough resources
Doctor in medical sciences, specialist in Intensive Care, Tihon Moraru called on the authorities to take urgent measures on acquiring the necessary equipment for managing the patients in need for intensive care. He mentioned that in order to be able to provide the necessary treatment to 50-100 critical patients, there is a need of at least 30 to 40 high performance mechanical ventilators, produced in the USA, Germany or Japan.
“I am afraid that we are late by 3-4 weeks, it will be very difficult for the equipment to be brought to the country. This can only be achieved by the authorities of our country and as quickly as possible. […] I believe that the maximum number of hospitalisations for the serious and critical patients will be between the middle of April and the beginning of May, which is why this devices of vital necessity must be brought to the country as urgently as possible. […] They are very necessary for the intensive care units of the country, especially those of the district hospitals of the country, where these devices are outdated,” specified Tihon Moraru.
The Moldovan authorities announced that 200 thousand protective screens and 500 filter masks were purchased in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the purchased protective screens represent only 10% of the announced necessary quantity, while the acquired amount of filter masks cover 25% of the health system current needs, reported ZdG.
Being contacted by ZdG, the manager of the company responsible for acquiring the protective goods said that, at the moment, the company does not have the products in stock, while importing them from China is a complicated procedure that will surely result in delivery delays, given the pandemic conditions.
Not enough tested persons
Another 32 people were lastly confirmed as being infected with the new type of coronavirus, after 246 samples were processed in the laboratory of the National Agency for Public Health, announced the sanatateinfo.md portal. That amounts a total of 5 324 persons who were tested, including family doctors and mayors. Given the exponential growth rate of the contagion demonstrated in other countries, the number of tested persons in the Republic of Moldova can be concluded as being way too low.
Enough Government assurances that “all is kept under control”
For purchasing 200 000 protective screens and 500 000 filter masks, the Government of the Republic of Moldova approved the allocation of 36 million lei from the reserve fund. “It is a measure to ensure protective equipment for the next period. We have enough equipment, but we are preparing for the second half of April and May,” said Prime Minister Ion Chicu.
At the same time, some district hospitals already have taken decisions of replacing at least a part of their old equipment using their institution budget or by applying to international funds and calling for foreign governments’ donations of protective goods, disinfectants, tests, etc.
Photo: Facebook| Ala Nemerenco
Media censorship during state of emergency: no personal opinions, no information that is not confirmed by state officials
In the context of state of emergency declared on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, the president of the Audiovisual Council (AC) of the Republic of Moldova, Dragoș Vicol, issued, on March 24, a provision through which, media outlets from all over the country are obliged to present only the official position of the competent public authorities. Additionally, journalists are not allowed to express their own opinion when reflecting the subjects that concern the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Under the conditions of state of emergency on the territory of Moldova, the official position of the competent public authorities (World Health Organization, the National Extraordinary Public Health Commission, the Government of the Republic of Moldova, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection) will be presented, those being more knowledgeable and more competent institutions regarding this matter,” is mentioned in the provision published on the AC official page.
In its attempt to fight fake news, sensationalism and infodemic situations characterised by overabundance of information that can create confusion, panic and insecurity, the AC risks to violate freedom of speech, opinated Petru Macovei, the executive director of the Independent Press Association (IPA) cited by ZdG.
These provisions are qualified by Macovei as an abuse in the field of audiovisual media services. “These provisions limit the right of journalists to issue value judgements related to the authorities’ efficiency,” stated Petru Macovei.
This is what the AC provides exactly: “During the period of emergency, the presenters / moderators / editors will unilaterally renounce the unannounced statement and favouring of both their own opinion and free formation of arbitrary opinions when reflecting the topics concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.”
At the same time, the regulatory institution affirmed that “the only reliable, truthful, impartial and balanced source of information is that from competent public authorities in the country and abroad.”
During the broadcasts made on the subject COVID-19, the representatives of the authorities should be invited, or at least they should be able to talk over the phone, as well as to present video or audio recordings with the position of a public authority, stated the president of AC for TV8.
In his opinion, everybody should trust the official sources. “Why do you doubt it? Now it is not the proper moment for labelling and considering that someone is hiding the information. I cannot believe that there are tendencies for certain state authorities to hide information,” Dragoș Vicol claimed.
However, experts say it is more about forbidding inconvenient statements and controlling the information flow.
“This decision needs to be reconsidered by the AC because, in its current form, it contains very clear elements of censorship. […] It is important to warn the European Commission about the abuses that occur in the Republic of Moldova under the pretext of state of emergency,” Petru Macovei highlighted.
“Such decisions are counter-productive when referring to the transparency of the authorities and the communication to the public to prevent the spread of the virus and recover the social-economic situation,” mentioned political analyst Dionis Cenușă, arguing that the AC provision still covers important issues related to a correct way of communicating information and dealing with the phenomenon of fake news.
Photo: Wendy Kenigsberg |University Photography