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.
A leopard never changes its spots or the ambitions of President Igor Dodon
Recently, a minority government was established in the Republic of Moldova at the initiative of the country’s president – Igor Dodon. It is formed of only one party – the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) – which is unofficially led by Igor Dodon (according to the law, the president can’t be a member of a political party). The socialists helped by democrats (the Democratic Party of Moldova – DPM) offered the confidence vote to the Government led by Ion Chicu, who is a closely connected person to the president. Therefore, President Dodon has now more and more influence on the key state institutions for promoting his own vision on how the things should be done in the Republic of Moldova. How is that possible? Let’s take it one by one.
On November 12th, the government led by Maia Sandu fell as a result of the no-confidence motion submitted by PSRM in the Parliament. The representatives of the previous government coalition (PSRM and the political bloc ACUM) couldn’t reach a compromise regarding submitting the list of candidates for the position of Prosecutor General. The no-confidence motion was voted by 63 Members of the Parliament (MPs) – 34 MPs from PSRM and 29 deputies from DPM.
The next day, socialists declared their support for the initiative of President Igor Dodon to create a minority Government. “It will be made up of professionals, apolitical and technocratic people, to ensure the good development and progress of the Republic of Moldova. […] The next Government will be a technocratic one, not a political one. However, the Government will have all the powers to implement the economic and social projects that the PSRM has promoted so far.” it was said in a PSRM statement.
Political experts though, have very big doubts that an apolitical minority government controlled by one political party is possible, being clear that it will be directly connected to PSRM and President Dodon from the very beginning.
In such a way, beside assuming the responsibility for the minority government in Moldova, PSRM is currently represented by the speaker and the vice-president of the Parliament, as well as by four members of the Permanent Bureau of the legislative power.
The new prime minister along with the new Government were appointed as quick as lighting, President Dodon said there is no reason to wait 90 days as the law stipulates and Ion Chicu (the former adviser of the President Dodon) was appointed the prime minister of the country. In reality, all of it seemed like a hell of a plan: ruling in a coalition to gain credibility internationally and, at the proper moment, getting rid of it and establishing a new, controllable Government with the support of own political party.
Beside Prime Minister Ion Chicu, there are five more former advisers to the head of state who were appointed Ministers in the new Cabinet, as well as the PSRM lawyer. That is one of the reasons why the newly established Government can’t be categorised as apolitical by the political analysts and civil society.
The first signs of attempting to control the Government were openly manifested at the first sitting of the Cabinet of Ministers, which was personally chaired by the President Dodon, even though that challenges the principle of separation of power in a state. The sitting was was suddenly and without any explanation held behind closed doors, albeit it was initially announced as public.
“The Government led by Chicu is meant to solve problems certainly in the interests of society, but especially in the interests of the head of state. This is obvious,” declared the analyst Igor Boțan for FRE/RL.
Former Prime Minister Maia Sandu declared that she had information about negotiations between President Dodon, socialists and democrats to tear down the government since September. “No matter if we had assumed the responsibility (for the amendments to the Law on Prosecutor’s Office) or not, the government would have been anyway dismissed.[…] I was aware that, once Plahotniuc was away, Dodon would also try to subordinate the state institutions, but we could not fight both Plahotniuc and Dodon at the same time. We had to get rid of the most toxic first. The fact that Dodon subsequently violated the agreements with ACUM, showed his true self,” said Maia Sandu in an interview for G4Media.ro.
The Prosecutor General
The General Prosecutor’s Office (GPO) has a new Prosecutor General – Alexandr Stoianoglo, the only candidate (out of 4) who previously had a political (DPM) affiliation. President Igor Dodon signed the decree and presented him to the GPO. Everything happened in less than 24 hours since the interviews with candidates were conducted. “The appointment of the Prosecutor General is a long awaited moment, in order to overcome the deadlock of the General Prosecutor’s Office. I reiterate that, nowadays, the Republic of Moldova cannot afford to maintain a key institution in a semi-functional regime,” declared Igor Dodon.
Despite the lawsuit filed by the deputy of Prosecutor General Eduard Bulat against the Ministry of Justice, as well as the allegations made by former Minister of Justice Olesea Stamate, the same list of four candidates for the position of Prosecutor General was transmitted to the Superior Council of Prosecutors (SCP) by the decision of the new Minister of Justice, Fadei Nagacevschi.
More details on the subject here.
“The political situation that took place around the dismissal of the Government led by Sandu and the appointment of the Government led by Chicu was the high stake of President Igor Dodon to obtain and take control of the Prosecutor General, which would give him personal comfort and neutralise any surprise that could have appeared in the case of an independent prosecutor, as well as would ensure him a smooth election campaign and the second term in the next presidential elections,” opinated the economic expert Veaceslav Negruța in a press conference organised by IPN and Radio Moldova.
Accent TV (one of four TV stations affiliated with PSRM) has been renamed “the First in Moldova” and has obtained the right to re-transmit the broadcasts of the Russian main TV station Pervii Kanal. After the creation of “the First in Moldova” TV channel, Telesistem TV SRL (the founder of Accent TV) requested to the Audiovisual Council (AC) to issue a new broadcast license for the TV station Accent TV. Previously, Prime TV, a TV station affiliated with former democrat leader Vladimir Plahotniuc, had this exclusive right.
Additionally, two other televisions – NTV Moldova, which re-transmits the Russian NTV channel, and Exclusiv TV, which re-transmits the Russian TV station TNT – are both administered by Exclusiv Media SRL, founded by the PSRM member Corneliu Furculiță.
As a result of these events, several NGOs from Moldova expressed their concern about the latest decisions of the AC, which would, according to them, stimulate media monopolisation in the Republic of Moldova. Also, the NGOs drew the attention of the AC members to the fact that PSRM affiliated TV stations reflect the most important topics on the public agenda, by strongly favouring and promoting the PSRM members.
“It may happen that we will have an ideology that dominates the country again. We already had a time when when everyone was thinking the same way. This led to nothing. The history repeats. When the government is changing, the redistribution of the media market is beginning. It’s sad. It proves that we didn’t develop as a society, as a state or as a political culture,” said the media expert Ion Bunduchi.
Igor Dodon is one of the most trusted persons in the Moldovan society. According to the last survey performed by the Public Opinion Fund, 26% of respondents said they trust President Igor Dodon the most. Therefore, having the society’s support and control over media and the most important state institutions, it seems that the plans of President Dodon to gain the second presidential seat and switch to the presidential system have a big potential to become true. But will they?
Former Prime Minister Vladimir Filat was released from detention
Former prime minister Vladimir Filat was freed from detention on December 3rd, after a request was registered at the Chișinău District Court by the administration of the prison no. 13 (the prison where the former prime minister spent his detention) on November 12th. The detention of Vladimir Filat was reduced by 709 days based on the decision of the national court as compensation for the inhuman and degrading treatment that was inflicted to him.
Vladimir Filat was supposed to serve a nine years prison sentence until November 5th, 2022. However, the law provides for the possibility of conditional release after serving 2/3 of the sentence. The former prime minister could have been released from detention on October 15th, 2021.
However, in July and October this year, there were two court decisions (based on a decision of the European Court of Human Rights) on reducing the sentence by 709 days, as a compensation for the bad conditions of detention. Thus, after the execution of 709 days reduction, it was concluded that Vladimir Filat has already reached 2/3 of his sentence on November 6th.
“Filat was sentenced to nine years in prison. Two-thirds of the sentence is six years. Now he’s four years old. One year was calculated for two, because he was sentenced in inhuman conditions. […] The law allows that when there are no civil actions and no recovery of damages,” explained Filat’s lawyer Ion Vâzdoaga for TV8.
Vladimir Filat was sentenced to nine years of imprisonment on October 15th, 2015, being found guilty of passive corruption and traffic of influence. His criminal case was directly related to the disappearance of one billion dollars from 3 banks of the Republic of Moldova.
There is also a second criminal case, in which the former prime minister is charged with committing large-scale money laundering. The former prime minister pleads innocent.
One more criminal case filed against Vladimir Plahotniuc for holding a second Moldovan citizenship
On October 29th, the Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office filed one more criminal case against the former leader of the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM), Vladimir Plahotniuc, for illegally obtaining a second passport of the Republic of Moldova, with a second identity. The criminal prosecution was started based on accusations of “abuse of service, committed in the interest of an organised criminal group or a criminal organisation,” according to the Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office information.
The offence based on which the criminal investigation was initiated is punishable by imprisonment from three to seven years, by the deprivation of the right to hold certain offices or to carry out a certain activity for a term of 10 to 15 years.
The chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on National Security, Defence and Public Order, Chiril Moţpan, confirmed at a press conference that the former leader of DPM Vladimir Plahotniuc had a dual identity in the Republic of Moldova. “We have come into possession of a document that clearly indicates that the citizen Vladimir Plahotniuc has one more identity in the Republic of Moldova. That information also reached the Prosecutor’s Office and a criminal case was filed,” declared Moţpan.
No personal details about the second identity of Plahotniuc was provided, as these data were classified. According to the declarations of Chiril Moţpan, the document would have been obtained when Sergei Răilean, the godson of the current DPM president, Pavel Filip, held the office as the director of the Public Services Agency. According to the chairman of the Parliamentary Commission, the Democrat Sergei Iaralov (one of the most important persons of the Plahotniuc’s trusted circle) has also two Moldovan identities.