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Culture

East or West? Celebrating Victory Day and Europe Day at the same time

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For 3 years, people in the Republic of Moldova have been debating what is more important: celebrating Victory Day or Europe Day on the 9th of May? In 2017, the Parliament of Moldova adopted a law to make Europe Day an official holiday in Moldova, along with Victory Day.

Every political party, regardless of the political views, organize a celebration on this day. This year, the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) and the Șor Party organised concerts, parades and demonstrations for celebrating Victory Day, whereas the political bloc ACUM, the Liberal Party (LP) and the National Unity Party (NUP) celebrated Europe Day. Another political actor – the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM) tried to please everyone and organised a holiday of “peace and prosperity for Moldova”.

At the same time, the Moldovan Government decided to focus merely on Victory Day and postponed Europe Day for the following weekend, on May 11th-12th. In such a way, they considered the conflict of interests resolved.

Now it’s the proper moment to ask: what is the problem with having 2 different holidays on the same day? In fact, they are not even contradictory. On the contrary, they are related, as the end of World War II and the surrender of the Allies armed forces (which is celebrated on May 8th in Europe) represented an important drive for the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community – the forerunner to the European Union. Actually, the only problem with it is the context of the Moldovan social and political behaviour.

First, both holidays are politicized and are transformed into an apple of discord deliberately, as the Moldovan politicians, especially those who are in power today, understand very well that a divided society means a weaker society; therefore, an easier to control society. The debates about directing Moldova to West (the EU) or East (the CIS) never stopped in Moldova. On May 9th, everyone argues about that: the governors, official representatives of the civil society, activists and, consequently, common people that instead of taking time to discuss their real problems, new businesses, initiatives, projects, protests against the injustice that is done to them, most of them are dividing in groups, spreading hatred and treating superficially the true meaning of both celebrations.

People forget that Victory Day is not about expensive concerts organised by the socialists or buckwheat with pickled cucumbers served in the city centre by the democrats. It is not about pompous demonstrations that involve children who are forced to dance synchronously instead of listening from their parents, grandparents and teachers about the tragic consequences of the Second World War.

Children singing and dancing on Victory Day| Photo: ZdG

On the other hand, Europe Day is more than classical music concerts organised in the central park of the Moldovan capital. Behind the exposed photo galleries are people that have been working a lot, searched and applied for European funds, people that didn’t expect somebody to simply come and save them from the poverty, corruption, injustice, etc. Unfortunately, such people are still not enough in Moldova and Europe Day is treated by the majority just as superficially as any other holiday in Moldova: an occasion to eat out, listen to concerts’ music and have fun.

Moreover, the governmental institutions and some big media outlets present the events happening on May 9th as a natural occurrence. So, the fact that several political parties ‘marked’ their territories in the city centre of Chișinău, organizing their own events for their own electorate is considered normal. The direct use of propagandist methods combined with avoidance to declare the events’ costs by the political parties is not a problem in Moldova.

We live nowadays in a country stuck between Eastern and Western worlds, which can perfectly make it without our existence. We live in a country with poor people, morally poor first of all, as we don’t really know much about our past and don’t care as much about our future.  None of these two holidays real meaning is interesting for the biggest majority of the population. We just love their symbolism that takes us back in the past or enables us to dream about the future. May 9th is just another reason to celebrate, not more than that.

Photos: Ziarul de Garda

Justice

A new platform for reporting corruption and abuses of authorities was launched – Anonim.md

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On December 11th, the platform Anonim.md – an online platform for reporting corruption anonymously – was launched by the Public Association “Jurists for Human Rights”. On this platform, Moldovan citizens are able to report abuses, corruption cases and misconducts committed by authorities or public institutions. The platform was developed by Code for Romania, within the pale of the Project “Promoting the Public’s Right to Know in Moldova”, being financially supported by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF).

Anonim.md is a software designed to gather sensitive materials – printed documents, audio or video files, directing them to the non-governmental organisations (NGOs), media institutions and journalists registered in the program. Thus, any person could be the initiator of a journalistic investigation, as far as trustworthy information is provided.

“We thought that people have information that can tell nobody because they want to keep their anonymity. This is how Anonim.md appeared, a platform through which they can send materials of public interest in a secure way,  choose the recipient to whom this information is sent, whether it is a media institution, an independent journalist or a NGO,” claimed Olga Cebanu, the project coordinator.

Information of public interest refers to any information that concerns the activities or results from the activities of a public authority or institution. Any information can be sent anonymously to one of the recipients registered on the platform. Also the platform allows the continuation of the discussion between the senders and the recipients, in a completely anonymous way. The gathered information can be used by the recipient journalists to initiate investigations.

More information on how the platform functions, as well as its terms and conditions here.

According to a study conducted by Transparency International – Moldova, 10,9% of respondents (civil servants who work in public institutions) declared that they encountered a situation of conflict of interests, abuses or corruption in the last 2 years.  Some of them claimed that they did not report those situations and no measures have been taken by the administration. Even though the legislation obliges civil servants to report corruption cases and other abuses to the head of the public entity or to the authorised authority, a considerable part of the respondents (about 27%) are openly not willing to do it for reasons of personal security reasons and lack of trust in empowered bodies.

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Society

The corruption phenomenon perceived by Moldovan citizens, a TI-Moldova study

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Corruption in public institutions is a negative phenomenon that is still encountered by a lot of civil servants and officials in power in the Republic of Moldova. According to a survey conducted by Transparency International – Moldova, a quarter (24.6%) of civil servants who work in public institutions and answered the survey consider that their workplace is affected by corruption, 27.2% of those surveyed answered negatively, while 48.2% avoided answering the question.

The survey was conducted throughout the employees of 13 central public authorities (such as Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice, Custom Service, the State Tax Authority, etc.) and their subordinated entities, which have high risk of corruption. The study was named “Quality of Anti-corruption Policies and Working Climate in Central Public Authorities: Survey of Public Servants” and had as a purpose to analyse the internal perception of the officials regarding the activity climate in these institutions and the quality of the anti-corruption policies applied, to identify possible problems related to their application and to formulate proposals to improve the situation.

Among those who answered positively the above-mentioned question, the greatest corruption is perceived by the employees of the Customs Service (48%), the Border Police (45.8%) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (29.3%). 

At the same time, when generally asked about the most corrupt state institutions in their opinion, the most of respondents pointed to the judiciary (70,6%).

When asked to compare the situation regarding corruption in the two governments (the Government led by Maia Sandu as compared to the predecessor one led by Pavel Filip), about 2/3 of respondents had difficulties to answer or didn’t answer the question. 17% said the level of corruption in institution they work remained the same, while 18% perceived a lower level of corruption. 1% of respondents declared the level of corruption during the Government led by Maia Sandu increased.

Overall the perception regrading the corruption situation during the Government led by Sandu improved as following:

  • the share of respondents who consider that the authority in which they work has been politicised has been reduced from 51% (Filip Government) to 27% (Sandu Government);
  • the hiring made thanks to the political or family affiliations has been reduced from 46% (Filip Government) to 23% (Sandu Government);
  • the cases when employees were promoted or awarded undeservedly were reduced from 36% (Filip Government) to 16% (Sandu Government);
  • the use of institution’s property for personal purposes dropped from 25% (Filip Government) to 13% (Sandu Government);
  • cases of violation of the code of conduct were reduced from 26% (Filip Government) to 18% (Sandu Government).

Nonetheless, there are individual observations and dissatisfaction of the respondents that refer to the insufficient communication with the employees, lack of professionalism within high ranked authorities, pressures on subordinates, discrimination of employees and other.

Even less respondents could say they faced at least a situation of conflict of interests, abuses or corruption in the last 2 years – 10,9%.  Some of them claimed that they did not report them and no measures have been taken by the administration. Although the legislation obliges civil servants to report corruption cases and other abuses to the head of the public entity or to the authorised authority, a considerable part of the respondents (about 27%) are openly not willing to do it for reasons of personal security and lack of trust in empowered bodies, according to the TI-Moldova report.

The surveyed civil servants declared that the salary of ordinary clerk in public institutions should be on average 15, 1 thousand lei (more that 780 euro) in order to resist the temptation of being bribed. That would be 1.7 times higher than the current average salary of an ordinary clerk in the public sector, 2.3 times higher than the salary of a division head and 3.3 times higher than the current salary of a minister or agency director.

The survey was held in October 2019, with the participation of 643 people, out of which 33% were employees of central units of the authorities included in the survey.

The full report can be found here.

Moldova ranked 117 out of 175 countries in the top of the least corrupt nation, according to the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. Corruption Rank in Moldova reached the all time highest point of 123 in 2016, while the lowest rank was recorded in 2001 (63).

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Politics

A leopard never changes its spots or the ambitions of President Igor Dodon

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Recently, a minority government was established in the Republic of Moldova at the initiative of the Moldovan president – Igor Dodon. It was 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.

The Parliament

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, from the very beginning, being clear that it will be directly connected to PSRM and President Dodon.

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 Government

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 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 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.

source: gov.md| President Dodon sat on the Prime Minister’s chair, Prime Minister Chicu is on his right.

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 proposed) 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.

Media control

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 the 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 everyone was thinking the same way. This led to nothing. The history repeats itself. 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, 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?

Photo: gov.md

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