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“The conflict in the Sea of Azov represents a reason to worry for Moldova” The crisis overview and the experts’ opinion

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A dangerous new crisis between Russia and Ukraine began after Russia seized 3 Ukrainian naval ships on Sunday morning, preventing them to enter the Kerch Strait – a narrow strip of water that links the Black and Azov seas and holds strategic importance for both countries.

According to the Ukrainian navy cited in the international media, a Russian vessel bumped into a Ukrainian tugboat Yany Kapu. Along with Berdiansk and Nikopol gunboats, it was transiting from Odessa to the port of Mariupol in the Sea of Azov. The Russian vessel opened fire and wounded several sailors. The tugboat Yany Kapu and the gunboat Berdiansk were disabled by the Russian forces and the undamaged Nikopol was taken under control. Russia sent two combat helicopters to the location of the incident, as reported by the Ukrainian Navy. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry declares in a statement that Russia acted “aggressively” and “illegally used force against the ships of the Ukrainian Navy.”

The office of the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko qualified the Russian action against the Ukrainian navy ships as “an act of aggression aimed at deliberately escalating the situation in the waters of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.” It also called for international condemnation of Moscow and the imposition of new sanctions. “We consider such actions categorically unacceptable and this aggression has already led to consequences,” said Petro Poroshenko.

On the other hand, the Russian FSB security service states that the border patrol boats captured the Ukrainian naval vessels by using weapons. The FSB declared it was forced to take action as the Ukrainian boats illegally entered its territorial waters and ignored warnings to stop, according to the news agency TASS. “Weapons were used with the aim of forcibly stopping the Ukrainian warships,” the FSB said. The Russian media speculates that the incident in the Kerch Strait was a conspiracy between the U.S. and Ukrainian authorities for endangering the upcoming meeting between the U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit.

Source: Twitter

As a response to the crisis, Russia temporarily blocked the passage to the Kerch Strait by placing a tanker in the waters under a bridge controlled by Russians. The access way was reopened for the civilian ships only, according to TASS.

The conflict seems to escalate even more as on Monday the Ukrainian lawmakers voted, at the initiative of the country’s president Petro Poroshenko, to declare martial law in 10 regions of Ukraine for a term of 30 days, starting in the morning of November 28th. The martial law also specifies that the election of President of Ukraine was set to March 31st, 2019.

International community

European Union and NATO support the Ukraine sovereignty and its territorial integrity and calls on Russia “to ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea,” as Oana Lungescu, the spokesperson of NATO, declares in a statement to CNN. At the same time, Rosemary DiCarlo, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs urged Ukraine and Russia “to refrain from any ratcheting up of actions or rhetoric,” as UN News reports. “[We] remind both [Russia and Ukraine] of the need to contain this incident so as to prevent a serious escalation that may have unforeseen consequences,” she said.

Source: UN News

Several European states, including Romania and Republic of Moldova expressed their concern regarding the development of the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait conflict. “Aggression & violation of international law undermine the security of the whole region,” declares the service of the Romanian Ministry of External Affairs. The Moldovan Ministry of External Affairs and European Integration expressed its “profound concern” regarding the occurring events as well. “We firmly blame any acts of aggression and provocation that undermine the regional security,” the ministry said. Both Romanian and Moldovan Ministries support “the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and its rights to use its territorial waters.”

Experts’ opinion

Rosian Vasiloi, the IDIS “Viitorul” expert in security policies, qualifies the Ukrainian actions of transferring its vessels through the Kerch Strait as “not illegal,” taking into consideration the previous agreements between Russia and Ukraine. Whereas the Russian actions “are a flagrant violation of the established agreements, Kremlin trying to set new game rules in the Black and Azov seas and maintaining the position that those are territorial waters under the Russian control,” says Vasiloi.

He considers that the main objectives of the Russian actions is to discourage assistance and support from the European institutions to Ukraine in the defence and security sector, to hinder the intention of joining NATO, as well as convincing the Ukrainian citizens about the weakness of the Navy Forces and promoting the propagandist messages in the context of future Ukrainian elections.

Rosian Vasiloi expresses his expectations concerning a tough reaction from the international community, as tolerating such actions from the Russian side “is way too much.”

“I expect that the Ukrainian authorities and the EU institutions would concentrate their forces for promoting policies and measures that would sanction a possible Russia’s aggression against its neighbouring state.”

The Republic of Moldova should align to these sanctions, considers Vasiloi. “The eventual war declaration from the Russian side is not a thing to be ignored. The risks for the Republic of Moldova are high, taking into consideration the presence of Russian troops on the Moldovan territory. Therefore, a clear reaction and concrete measures from Moldovan side regarding this subject is needed.”

Denis Cenușă, the associated expert at Expert-Grup, considers that the development of the Kerch Strait conflict “will largely depend on the international community’s response.” The actions and decisions of UN, NATO and EU international organizations, as well as the position of individual countries such as the US, Germany, France and the UK, will determine the Moscow’s further steps.

“Taking into account the previous reactions of the international community to Russian aggression (Crime annexation, military action in Donbass, civilian plane MH17 crash, etc.), there is a low probability that other measures than economic and individual sanctions can stop the Russian Federation,” says Cenușă. On the other hand, he mentions that such measures may be followed by reactions of the Russian Federation, including shortening natural gas supplies, reactivating the crisis in Syria, extending economic sanctions, or triggering hybrid activities in countries vulnerable to populist movements.

“The fact that for Putin’s regime the military agenda prevails over diplomacy and “soft power” confirms an alarming direction that the Russian Federation is taking by rejecting international law and bilateral agreements.” This shows that the reformist segments of the Russian society are incapable of sanctioning Putin’s authoritarian regime, whose foreign policy is wholly dominated by militaristic visions, according to Cenușă.

Regarding the conflicting information that appeared in the Russian and Ukrainian media, the expert notices that the Russian Federation is interested in exposing the events in a way it suits. “In the last two decades, the Russian crisis situations have always been misinterpreted by the pro-government press and Russian officials. Therefore, there are no reasons to trust the statements made in the Russian media this time.”

On the background of the information mismatch, one can see what the intentions of the Russian Federation are. First, Cenușă states that Russia uses military atrocities against Ukrainian ships to discredit Petr Poroshenko’s presidency in the context of the presidential election, in which Moscow relies on the candidacy of Yulia Tymoshenko. Second, Moscow wants to flood the national and international public space with the idea that the Azov Sea is treated as a Russian internal geographical area, although in reality this area belongs to Ukraine or it is shared with Ukraine. “So, we are witnessing a new act of legitimizing the illegal integration of Crimea into the Russian territory.” Third, a new trend of expanding the Russian aggression from the earth to the sea can be observed. If in the Donbass region, Moscow claimed that the problem is in the separatist forces, which it can somehow masquerade, then in the waters of the Azov Sea this trend comes to the foreground, regardless of the misinformation angle.

Concerning the possible influence of the conflict in the region, particularly for Moldova, Cenușă points out the opinion of the international military experts suggesting that Russia is capable of anything.

“In a way, we are faced with a security and geopolitical reality easily disputed by Moscow whenever it deems necessary and neglecting any existing diplomatic framework. This represents a reason to worry, as Moldova has Russian military forces stationed in the Transnistrian region, low military training, lack of any solid strategic vision, and a local political context fragile or tolerant of Russian interference.”

The conflict backgrounds

Since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, an act that is not legally recognized by the international community, and a war with the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, these two countries have been locked in a continuous conflict. Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been steadily escalating in recent months.

For example, last month, the conflict extended into the area of religion when the Ukrainian Orthodox Church officially broke free from Moscow’s control. Besides, Ukraine and the United States have been accusing Russia of interfering with international shipping in and out of the Kerch Strait for some months now.

Featured image source: CNN

Society

How much alcohol do Moldovans consume? The repercussions and solutions of this problem

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The Republic of Moldova is one of the few countries in this world that celebrates the “National Wine Day”. The celebration is organised every year on first weekend of October. Thousands of people gather, at that time, in the city centre of Chișinău to taste newly appeared on the market, as well as popular types of wine produced by wineries from all over the country. The fete of 2019 hosted 68 wine producers.

At the same time, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global status Report on Alcohol and Health for 2018 says that Moldova has the highest levels of alcohol consumption per capita in the world. Even though the trend of alcohol consumption in Moldova is decreasing, as it dropped from 21.6 litres per capita in 2005 to 15.1 litres per capita in 2016 for persons over 15 years, that still does not remove it from this top.

According to the report, Moldovans mostly drink wine – 57% of their consumption is represented by wine, followed by 25% spirits and 16% beer.

Alcohol and health

It is not as important to analyse the quantity of the drunk alcohol, as the way it is consumed and the effects on the population. Therefore, the same WHO report states that, in 2016, 1907 persons out 100 000 died of liver cirrhosis, 188 out of 100 000 died of road traffic injuries and 799 out of 100 000 died of cancer. According to national statistics, there were also recorded 3.5 deaths per 100,000 people caused by alcohol intoxication in 2016.

source: time.com

Alcohol is the cause of over 200 different diseases, including: neuropsychiatric disorders (epilepsy, depression, anxiety), digestive disorders (alcoholic liver cirrhosis, acute and chronic pancreatitis, alcoholic gastropathy), cancers (of the digestive tract and breast) or cardiovascular diseases (ischaemic, hemorrhagic, hypertension). Sexual dysfunctions are also very common – impotence for men and frigidity for women. When consuming an excessive amount of alcohol, the general tone of the body decreases, the interests, the goals in life disappear.

Alcohol abuse by pregnant women presents an essential danger to the unborn child. When a pregnant woman drinks, alcohol is accumulated in the fetus’s body. The toxic effect is extremely high during intrauterine development, causing irreversible damage to the central nervous system of fetus: neurons do not develop properly, some cells are destroyed, others develop abnormally, as Ministry of Health is warning.

Alcohol and teenagers

Young people alcohol consumption is another alarming phenomenon in the Moldovan society. The data (the 2015 ESPAD Report) shows that, in Moldova, 82% of pupils in 8th and 9th grades have consumed alcohol at least once in their lifetime. About 9% of them declared that they already suffered an alcohol intoxication.

Alcohol and drivers

This year, traffic police officers discovered 3751 cases of drunk drivers. Because of drunk drivers, 30 people lost their lives on the country’s roads, and 134 suffered traumas. According to the National Patrol Inspectorate, the information campaigns, operations and sanctions applied by the police seem to be ignored by the drivers, which endanger the safety in road traffic.

source: politia.md

Alcohol and violence

In addition to the impact on health and high risk of causing traumas, the excessive alcohol consumption may have dramatic social consequences, such as relational problems (deterioration of family relationships, separation, divorce, abuse and neglect of children), loss of friends, material difficulties, loss of work, loss of home, social exclusion, legal issues (fines, imprisonment), inappropriate sexual behaviour (unprotected sex, rape, unwanted pregnancy), etc.

According to the WHO report, men consume 4 times more alcohol than women. Therefore, the consumption of alcoholic beverages increases the risk of domestic violence, especially towards women.

A report from 2011 on violence against women in the Republic of Moldova shows that 79% of respondents consider excessive alcohol consumption to be the main cause of domestic violence and a share of 38.7% of women in Moldova are victims of physical violence because of their consuming alcohol husband, whereas 50,4% of women are victims of sexual violence. Even though the data may be a bit outdated and the situation could have been improved in the meantime, the numbers are more than alarming.

Identified solutions

Moldova has a national policy regarding alcohol consumption, implemented excise taxes on alcohol and restrictions for selling alcoholic beverages. In 2012, the Ministry of Health adopted an eight-year national plan to ban certain advertisements, raised taxes on hard liquor, restricted sales hours and raised the legal drinking age from 16 to 18. Also, the government reduced the legal blood alcohol content, made penalties more severe and increased breath testing.

Various measures are tried to be implemented by the local authorities as well. In 2018, the former mayor of Puhoi village, Petru Frunze, promoted an innovative project. He invited 20 alcohol addicted persons to sign an agreement with the mayor’s office, which obligated them to stop consuming alcoholic beverages for half a year. Instead, he promised them jobs and cash prizes worth 1,000 MDL.

source: time.com

The purpose of the initiative was to determine capable to work but alcohol-dependent citizens to be hired and work, thus to reduce domestic violence. Petru Frunze believes that in order to solve the problem of alcoholism in the country, a specialised institution must be created, as Moldova.org reported.

“There should be someone who always watches over them, because otherwise they fall into temptation. It would be good to have an institution at the national level to deal with such things, to develop rehabilitation programs for alcohol addicts. In addition, the problem begins in the teenage years. Even if young people are graduating, they are not encouraged to start to work. There are many jobs that are not so well paid, but still a salary of 5,000-6,000 lei is a better alternative than becoming alcoholic. The state must get involved.”

Currently, the project is no longer carried out in Puhoi. However, it may serve as a good example of trying to solve such social problems on the local level.

Last year, the National Probation Inspectorate, which aims to implement the measures of reintegration of the Moldovan offenders in the society, set up a method to fight drunk or drugged drivers: their driving licences are withdrawn. In order to recover them, drivers have to take special courses.

The program was called “Drink & Drive” and started in March 2019, including 12 sessions. During two of them, the beneficiaries go to the Legal Medicine Centre and the Emergency Hospital. They participate in the autopsy process and even wash the bodies or their places of storage, and in case of emergency, they must provide assistance to road accident victims.

At the same time, the National Police of Moldova launched a telephone line (067 112 902) exclusively for the notification of the Police regarding the cases of drivers driving or attempting to drive their cars while being drunk.

A still existing problem

According to Time, accurate figures for Moldova are hard to reach because up to 70% of consumed alcohol is homemade wine. At the same time, while taxes on hard liquor were raised, beer and wine are still cheap. There is no legal requirement of asking beer and wine consumers to present their ID in Moldovan pubs and bars.

Moreover,  the existing regulations are not effectively enforced. For example, most bars and supermarkets don’t care about the legal time restrictions, nor the about the legal age limits, especially in the countryside.

The law on preventing and combating domestic violence in Moldova still contains lacuna and is not fully enforced to fight this phenomenon.

Photo: time.com

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Politics

The report of the Bank Fraud Investigation Commission: “The looting process was coordinated with politicians and state officials.”

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On October 17th, the report on elucidating all circumstances of the banking system looting and investigation of the banking fraud was presented by the Bank Fraud Investigation Commission in the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova.

Alexandru Slusari, the head of Commission declared, during the presentation of the report, that the amount looted from the banking system that appears in the Kroll report is between 900 million and 1 billion dollars. “However, taking into account the information provided by the National Bank of Moldova and the Prosecutor’s Office, there are suspicions that the amount of damage was much larger,” said Slusari.

The head of Commission stated also that, according to the conclusions of the report, the final beneficiaries of the bank robbery were Vladimir Plahotniuc (former chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova), Ilan Șor (businessman and former Mayor of Orhei) and Vladimir Filat (former Prime Minister of Moldova), as well as some of their trusted people. Also, the National Commission for Financial Markets and the National Bank were involved in the plan regarding the attack against the Savings Bank of Moldova, leaded by Vladimir Plahotniuc and Veaceslav Platon.

As Slusari stated, the General Prosecutor’s Office sabotaged the investigation of the banking system looting between 2015-2019. “In many cases the investigation was deliberately delayed or used selectively for political purposes,” said Alexandru Slusari.

As consequences of the bank fraud, the national currency depreciated by 42.2%, thus triggering a currency crisis between November 2014 and February 2015, while the annual inflation in 2015 constituted 10.2%, double as compared to 2014. Moreover, the report shows that bank fraud led to the degradation of democratic standards and aggravated corruption in the Republic of Moldova.

The commission, therefore, recommended to the Parliament to establish the circumstances that would allow the current deputy governors of the National Bank of Moldova (NBM), Ion Sturzu and Aurel Cincilei, to be dismissed. Also, it advised the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office to criminally investigate some of the former state officials – Iurie Leancă (former Prime Minister), Dorin Drăguțanu (former Head of the NBM), Andrian Candu (former President of the Parliament), Anatol Arapu (former Minister of Finance) and Emma Tăbârță (former deputy governor of the NBM).

“These persons allowed granting of state guarantees to the involved banks without the immediate introduction of special state administration regime, which had serious consequences for the banking system, as huge amounts of money were withdrawn between November 7-27, 2014.”

At the same time, the Government and the NBM were addressed to examine the publication of all materials related to the looting of the banking system and to initiate agreements with all offshore areas on the exchange of tax information.

The Prosecutor General’s Office was advised to investigate the reasons for the stagnation of the investigation initiated by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office on the banking system looting, as well as to cooperate with international special services to recover the stolen funds. Additionally, an audit on the legality of the allocation of financial resources granted as emergency loans should be conducted by the Ministry of Finance.

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Culture

5 exceptional museum exhibitions in Chișinău, which are currently opened for visitors. Have you already seen them?

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There are still very few things known abroad about the history, architecture, nature and culture of the Republic of Moldova. Some old and contemporary treasures still remain hidden from the public eye, being visited only by a few connoisseurs. In this article, we present 5 intriguing exhibitions in the Chișinău museums for that time when you visit the capital city of Moldova and think about how to spend your time.

The collection of old charters at the National Library

source: ipn.md

The collection of charters of the National Library includes around 200 documents reflecting the economic, social, political and cultural life of Bessarabia from the Tsarist period (1812-1918). It has been recently restored and made available to the public. The preserved documents were exhibited after the project “Bessarabian charters and other historical documents from the 19th century”, financed by the US Embassy, ​​through the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Conservation, was completed, IPN reported.

According to the director of the National Library Elena Pintilei the project has a major impact on the national heritage, as until two years ago, it was impossible to make these documents public or to make them available to researchers. “The restored historical documents will be researched by historians, because they contain very important information, perhaps still undiscovered, about the period of the 19th century, when Bessarabia was under Tsarist occupation,” said Elena Pintilei.

The exhibition is open to the public until December 30th, 2019. It can be found at the National Library on 31 August 1989 street, 78A.

The exhibition “Bessarabian Motives” at the “Andrei Lupan” Scientific Library

source: fest.md

The exhibition “Bessarabian Motives” is composed of about 70 works performed in different techniques of visual art: oil on canvas, watercolour, ink pen, paper engraving. In the works of the artists are represented rural and architectural motives, as well as local people of the old Chișinău.

The old Chișinău, located on a picturesque place, on seven hills, impresses its inhabitants, but also the guests of the capital. This is why, the artists try to immortalise the old city and its architecture through new works, representing different seasons and times of the day.

“Bessarabian Motives” is a personal exhibition organised by two freelance plastic artists Antonina Grişciuc and Vitalie Grişciuc who have been exhibiting their work in group exhibitions and organising personal exhibitions for 25 years. Their works have been exhibited in many countries such as Moldova, Romania, Russia, Israel, Spain, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany, Japan, France etc.

The exhibition is open to the public in the period from September 27th to November 15th at the “Andrei Lupan” Scientific Library, on Academiei street, 5A.

The “Nature. Human. Culture” exhibition at the National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History

source: muzeu.md

The exhibition “Nature. Man. Culture” is a permanent museum exhibition that was created in 1988-1994. It has an area of ​​2000 square meters and reflects the global problem of human-nature interaction, based on local experience. Starting from the idea that nature is the environment of any human community, and culture is a reflection of the experience of human accommodation in the natural environment, the exhibition demonstrates the evolution of the use of natural resources and the development of the culture of human communities, which populated the region between Prut and Dniester area in different historical periods. It defines the transformation of nature from the sacralization of the forces of nature to their consumer domination by man. The exhibition also illustrates the problems of developing ethnicity and traditional culture in all its diversity, the results of the irresponsible attitude towards the surrounding nature, the conflicts between man and nature, solutions of economic and rational use of natural resources, as well as the tendencies to optimise the values ​​of the society.

The National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History is located on M. Kogalniceanu street, 82.

The exhibition “Treasures of the past” at the National Museum of History of Moldova

source: nationalmuseum.md

The permanent exhibition brings together the most relevant objects made of gold and silver, from the territory of the Republic of Moldova, from the period between the 5th millennium BC till the 18th century, kept in the patrimony of the National Museum of History of Moldova. The oldest pieces in the exhibition were manufactured 6500 years ago. The collection includes ornaments, clothing accessories and weapon elements, a series of coin treasures discovered in different localities of Moldova.

The National Museum of History of Moldova can be found on 31 August 1989 street, 115.

The open air “Village Museum”

source: https://muzeulsatuluichisinau.wordpress.com/

The Village Museum is a wonderful place at the “Gates of the City” – the buildings located at the entrance of Chișinău (from the airport). It aims to exhibit the monuments of popular architecture, namely the Bessarabian village from the 18th-19th century and offers a representative image of the plant world in the Republic of Moldova.

The museum was inaugurated in 1995, as a branch of the National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History.

The museum complex has been under construction for a long time, having until now only one monument: a wooden church built in 1642, brought from the town of Hirișeni (Telenesti district) in order to be restored and saved.

When the project will be completed, it will cover an area of 150 hectares and will include six ethnographic areas with 165 monuments: windmills, water mills, wooden churches, dwelling houses, house annexes, trout, a traditional inn and a pub, etc.

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