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.
Moldova likely to pay $58 million debt to Platon-associated energy company, case returns to Paris Appeal Court
The government of the Republic of Moldova is likely to be obliged to pay a $58 million award to Komstroy, an Ukrainian energy company closely associated to now-imprisoned oligarch Veaceslav Platon.
As Law360 reports, the award was reconfirmed by the U.S. District Judge Christopher R.Cooper on 23 August, when Moldova was rejected the claim that it had “been denied due process” in an arbitration case within an ad-hoc arbitral tribunal in Paris. Back in 2013, the tribunal concluded that Moldova had violated an investment commitment under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) by not paying debts owned to Komstroy’s predecessor (LLC Energoalliance- based in Ukraine) on the deliverance of electric power in 1999-2000. Thus, the Moldovan government was allegedly owing around $46,5 million. The tribunal’s decision was disputed by the Moldovans at the Paris Court of Appeal, which subsequently ruled in 2016 that the ad-hoc tribunal “misinterpreted the subject debt as an “investment” under the ECT” (Case No. 14-cv-01921 (CRC)). In its attempts to find recognition of the tribunal’s decision, Komstroy asked the D.C. Court to examine the case, even though the French Cassation Court returned the case to the Appeals Court in 2018.
Notwithstanding the ongoing proceedings in Paris, the US Court ruled in late 2018 that the award can be enforceable and more importantly, its amount could be increased to nearly $58 million, considering the exchange rate from the award date.
After the ruling on 23 August, Gene M.Burd, attorney for Komstroy, told Law360 that it’s “pleased” with the US Court’s decision to determine the Paris ad-hoc tribunal’s right and scope to act upon the role demanded by Moldova and the Ukrainian energy company.
Moldova’s Justice Minister, Olesea Stamate, rushed (on 11 September, when the US court decision got out into the wild) to explain that the payment of the award can be enforceable only after the Paris Appeals Court issues a final ruling at the end of the month. As quoted by Ziarul de Garda, Stamati dismissed Komstroy’s claim as a a “scheme that was applied by some persons to milk the public budget”, describing the debts as “bogus”, “sold at double price”. In addition, the Minister announced that Moldova contested the US court decision.
As Sic.md explains in a fact checker, Moldova’s problems began back in Paris, where lawyer Victor Volcinschi was reportedly defending the position of the Ukrainian company instead of the Moldovan side. Additionally, the new law firm, Bukh Law Firm, subcontracted in December 2018, was not paid between February and April 2019 by the previous Democrat government, putting the whole defence at risk.
According to sic.md, LLC Energoalliance is associated with the more-than-controversial oligarch Veaceslav Platon and his involvement in the even more famous Russian Laundromat.
Dumitru Alaiba: Vlad Plahotniuc has a Czech nationality as well?
Deputy of the ‘ACUM’ bloc Dumitru Alaiba wonders whether the former DPM leader and oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc is Czech citizen. He recently posted an extract from what appears to be a document saying this:
According to the deputy, on June 4, Plahotniuc tried to open a new company in the UK.
“It seems that Vladimir Plahotniuc, before being taken down from the government, was busy with business development. On June 4, 2019, he was trying to open a new company in the UK – with a Czech passport. There’s nothing illegal, of course. It’s just that I didn’t know about it” wrote Alaiba on his personal blog.
The deputy urged Moldovan diaspora in London to visit the address from the document, in case they are in the area.
Read more: Vlad Plahotniuc made good use of his passport long before he became a political man
The Kroll 2 Report: 77 of Ilan Shor’s companies received $2,900,000,000 in loans
Kroll was contracted by the National Bank of Moldova on January 28, 2015, in order to investigate money laundering frauds in three banks: Banca de Economii, Banca Sociala and Unibank. The amount of the contract was not made public. The Kroll 2 report, published by the parliamentary investigation commission on bank fraud, spans 154 pages. However more details, such as company or person names, have been deleted.
At the same time, the report does not contain the list of beneficiaries of bank fraud. Kroll 2 presents the schemes where bad loans were offered, but also how these funds have later circulated. The report contains the list of the 77 companies within the URB group, as well as the loans they have taken from the Moldovan banks.
In interviews, they were experts at Kroll with employees at Banca de Economii, and it was found that many relevant materials related to loans offered to Ilan Shor’s group were destroyed in suspicious circumstances of a fire in late November 2014.
The report states that between 1 January 2012 and 26 November 2014, the Banca de Economii, Banca Sociala and Unibank offered $2.9 billion in loans to companies in the Shor Group.
Money earned on loans was redirected to foreign accounts in the Latvian banks ABVL and Privatbank, through which they were laundered. These accounts appear to be open only for this purpose because they did not record any other transactions.
Another part of the loans was transferred to the bank accounts of the Republic of Moldova, Russia, but also other jurisdictions.
The loans went through a coordinated money-laundering process and then disappeared into several bank accounts.
Part of the loans offered to the companies in the Shor group remained in Moldova. The tracking of the initial destination of the funds showed that the amounts remained in the accounts held at the three banks or were transferred to other banks in Moldova to pay for other loans. At the same time, more money was mixed with other funds, so it was impossible to track them later.
Out of the 2.9 billion US dollars, Kroll points out that about 220 million US dollars remained in the Republic of Moldova and were used to repay loans from the Banca Sociala, Banca de Economii and Unibank, and other banks.
The full Kroll 2 report can be read here: