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Freedom House Report: Moldova, still a “partially free” country



Moldova is qualified as a “partially free” country, according to the Freedom House annual report on the state of freedom in the world. Thus, Moldova has accumulated a general score of 58 out of 100 (in which 0 points means “lack of freedom” and 100 points – the “highest degree of political system”), being evaluated on a scale from 1 to 7, with 3.5 in the rating of freedom, 3 from respecting political rights and 4 from civil liberties (1 means “the highest degree of freedom” and 7 “the lowest degree of freedom”).

Ukraine, as well, is considered a “partially free” country. It’s ranked 60th, with a score of 3.5 in the rating of freedom, 3 – respecting political rights and 4 – civil liberties. Romania received 2 at all 3 indices and is the 81st in the world, being considered “free”. More “free” countries are considered to be countries such as Great Britain, USA, Germany, Norway.

On the other hand, countries that are not considered free include Russia, China, Egypt, Venezuela. In relation to the authoritarian states, Freedom House draws attention to the fragile situation of the opposition and independent media from them.

“In states that were already authoritarian, receiving Freedom House designations of “Not free”, governments have increasingly removed the thin façade of democratic practice they set up in previous decades, when international incentives and pressure for reforms were stronger. More authoritarian powers now banned opposition groups or shut down their leaders,” says the Freedom House Report.

The same document points out that this is the 13th consecutive year in which there is “a decline in the situation of global freedoms”.

“The reversal covered a variety of countries in each region, from long-standing democracies like the United States to consolidated authoritarian regimes such as China and Russia. Total losses are still superficial compared to end-of-20th century earnings, but the pattern is consistent and threatening. Democracy is in retreat,” says the same report.

Reminder: In Freedom House’s last year’s report, Moldova appeared among the “partially free” countries, being passed to the 61st freedom index. The report stressed that high-level corruption is hampering the development of a democratic governance.

“Moldova has a competitive electoral environment. Rights of assembly, speech and religion are largely protected. However, perpetual corruption in the government sector, ties between large political parties and economic interests, as well as deficiencies in the rule of law continue to impede democratic governance,” the Freedom House Report of 2018 points out.

In 2019, 50 countries have made progress and 68 have experienced democratic regressions, according to the report, which this year is entitled “Democracy in retreat.”

Source: ZdG


Is the newly elected Ukrainian president a model for any post-Soviet state? The impact of the Zelenskiy’s presidency on Moldova



Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the newly elected President of Ukraine, who became a phenomenon overnight declared during the first minutes of his victory: “I am still not officially a president, and I can say as a citizen of Ukraine to all the post-Soviet states: look at us — everything is possible!”

Is that really so? Are the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine comparable when it comes to the political or economic situations, external relations and the overall character of the society? And what is even more important: will the changes in Ukraine impel any transformations in the Republic of Moldova as well?

The parallels between Ukraine and Moldova

First, Ukraine and Moldova have two different forms of government. Ukraine is a unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic, whereas Moldova is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic. Sounds similar but, in fact, that means that in Ukraine the president, as a head of state, has more political power, being more than a ceremonial, non-executive figure (as it is in the case of the Republic of Moldova). However, there is an important similarity regarding the election system used to vote the Parliament – both countries use the mixed election system.

Both post-Soviet countries suffered plenty of transformations in terms of changing governments since their independence declaration. Reformers, communists, nationalists, centrists, extremists, pro-Russians, pro-Europeans, all of them governed at certain point one country or another. Both Moldovans and Ukrainians fought for a better quality of life through mass protests. The peak for Moldovans was the mass protests from April 2009, when the victory of Communists at the parliamentary elections was publicly contested. In Ukraine, it was the Euromaidan from February 2014 when the pro-Russian President Yanukovych was removed from office after the Ukrainian ‘course’ was suddenly switched from signing the EU association agreement to tightening relations with Russia. The difference – Ukraine had a real revolution, Moldova didn’t.

Both Ukraine and Moldova have territories that were occupied. Ukraine has a territorial dispute with Russia regarding Crimea and Donbass, whereas Moldova has two self-proclaimed and unrecognised states that are, in fact, separatist regions – Transnistria and Gagauzia. The difference in this case is that Ukraine doesn’t seem to give up in trying to reclaim its territories. The Moldovan governments of all times didn’t seem to really care about the Russian tanks set in Transnistria for so-called peace-keeping reasons, leaving the situation up in the air for more than 20 years.

There is one more similarity between these two countries – both seem to be torn up between the wish to join the EU one day and the impossibility to fully detach themselves from the Russian interests. Basically, that is one of the most important sources of social disputes, beside the language and ethnic minorities problems. Moreover, both countries have ‘enthroned’ oligarchs to control the things and both have a permanently decreasing population that still keeps the post-Soviet reminisces in their behaviour and way of thinking.

As it seems, Moldova and Ukraine have a similar background. But will they have a similar future?

The Ukrainian model in Moldova

Even though so many things sound familiar both for Ukrainians and for Moldovans, the latter ones don’t really have any chance to repeat the same story, as the Moldovan cinematography is not as developed as the Ukrainian one. Taking it seriously, Moldovan people proved to be more sceptical and conservative when they had the chance to choose between a reformer woman and an experienced but traditionalist man running for President of Moldova in 2016. Maybe that would change in the future. Maybe.

For now, it is more important to observe the possible repercussions of the Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s presidency on the existing situation in the Republic of Moldova.

Zelenskiy is, at the moment, “a blank piece of paper”, as The Guardian wrote. People have a lot of expectations from him and as he didn’t discuss any political or social problems during the pre-elections period, the expectations are really differing. Nobody knows yet whether he will negotiate with Kremlin. Nobody knows yet whether he has ties with the oligarch Ihor Kolomoiski. However, as the political pundit Dionis Cenușă stated in an interview for RFE/RL: “Until now, there has been no one to come from outside the system and to propose an agenda in which to believe.”

Cenușă also stated that if Zelenskiy eventually is able to move away from the oligarchic circles, that would be relevant to the political systems and the oligarchs from Moldova and Georgia. It is widely known that the business and political interests of Vladimir Plahotniuc (Moldova), Bidzina Ivanishvili (Georgia) and Petro Poroshenko (Ukraine) coincided in the past.

Moreover, Ukraine as an active player in the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict, being part of the 5 + 2 negotiation format. It would have a say in case Zelenskiy starts the informational war against Russia, as he previously promised during his electoral campaign.

One more thing that could change is the bilateral relations between the Ukrainian and the Moldovan Presidents. The discussions could be relaunched after 5 years of ‘cold’ relations between the Moldovan President Igor Dodon and the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. It happened after a precipitate statement of Dodon in which he seemed to put the Kremlin right in the Crimea problem. Since that moment,  Poroshenko refused any official meeting with Igor Dodon.

Nonetheless, things will be certainly clearer when Zelenskiy will take over after his inauguration in June 2019 and after the parliamentary elections in October 2019 will decide whether the Ukrainian president has a majority to support him.

Photo: Reuters

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$1,000,000 worth of cocaine found in a container in the city of Odessa. Two Moldovans were detained



Security Service officers, along with prosecutors and police officers from Odessa, Ukraine, have uncovered a cocaine smuggling maritime.

The $1,000,000 worth of cocaine was found in a fruit container during a cargo inspection to be transported to Europe. The Security Service of Ukraine announces that two Moldovans have been detained.

“During the in-depth examination of the goods to be transported to Europe from a country considered one of the world’s largest drug producers, officers detected 12 kilograms of cocaine in a fruit container,” SBU’s note says.

The institution mentions that during the special operation, two Moldovan citizens were detained after they were caught trying to remove cocaine from the territory of the container terminal outside the customs control.

In this case, criminal proceedings have been initiated. Investigations are being carried out and all persons involved in the operation of the smuggling channel are to be identified.

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Any kind of radical changes in Ukrainian politics could have repercussions for the Republic of Moldova. Opinion



The deputy of the political bloc ACUM and the former ambassador of Moldova to USA, Canada and Mexico, Igor Munteanu declared in an interview for RFE/RL that the tense political situation in Ukraine at the moment, as well as the results of the presidential elections could have repercussions for the entire Eastern and Central European region, including the Republic of Moldova.

Igor Munteanu declares that a radical decision in any direction, pro or anti-Russia could influence the situation in Moldova as well. “In case the future president of Ukraine wants to approach a peaceful solution with Russia, that implying worsening conditions for Ukraine’s national interests, I believe it could produce more skepticism in Moldova and could slow down the rapprochement with the EU,” claimed Munteanu.

On the other hand, if the current president remains in power and the relations between Ukraine and Russia worsen, the Transnistrian problem would come into question, according to Igor Munteanu. “In an eventual hot war, which is a very expensive option for both sides, the Transnistrian model could be pursued with more attention for a transplant on the territory of Ukraine. Then, the Republic of Moldova should also make certain corrections regarding the future of Transnistria. So, any kind of change on the Ukrainian politics could have consequences for us,” said Munteanu.

At the same time, Munteanu showed preference for the candidacy of the current president. “Petro Poroshenko, unlike other presidents, including the one of the Republic of Moldova, showed great courage and good management qualities. In extremely difficult situations for the Ukrainian state, he managed to rebuild an army capable of facing a dreaded adversary and he succeeded…”

 “It is clear that the elections in Ukraine are fundamentally important for the whole region, not only for the Republic of Moldova, but also for Poland, Romania and the Black Sea area. So, we will wait to see the degree of this influence.”

According to the results of the first round of the presidential election in Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko will run against comedian and TV star Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the second round on April 21st.


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