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The journalists from the Al Jazeera news portal published recently an investigation and produced a film about the oligarchic regime established at Chișinău and its key figure – the Democrats leader Vladimir Plahotniuc. In order to realize the material, the Al Jazeera journalists and filmmakers Glenn Ellis and Viktoryia Kolchyna have visited the Republic of Moldova in February 2019.

This is how the article on the Al Jazeera portal starts:

“His critics say he’s a secretive oligarch who pulls all the strings in a country caught between Europe and Russia, while his supporters say he’s a just a successful businessman-turned-politician with his country’s best interests at heart.

Who is the man whom many call Moldova’s ‘Puppet Master’? And what lies behind allegations of blackmail, hitmen, and a billion-dollar bank fraud?”

The article presents the filmmaker and author’s view, Glenn Ellis: “What is undeniable is that Plahotniuc exercises a remarkable degree of influence over Moldovan political life. […] He also oversaw legislation that made it practically impossible to recover money stolen in a 2014 billion-dollar bank fraud that crippled Moldova’s state finances. […] I wondered to what extent the perceived invincibility of the Plahotniuc brand would feature in the upcoming vote. Was he indeed the all-powerful Machiavellian character often portrayed?”

Also, the declarations of Igor Dodon, the President of Moldova, Lilia Carasciuc, the director of the NGO Transparency International in Chișinău, Alexei Tulbure, Moldova’s former permanent representative to the UN, Andrei Năstase and Maia Sandu, the leaders of the political bloc ACUM, Natalia Morari, a popular independent journalist, along with the declarations of other members of political parties, experts, and journalists were used in the film for reporting the situation in Moldova.

Photo: aljazeera.com

Economy

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 knew a situation of conflict of interests, abuses or corruption in the last 2 years – 10,9%.  Some of them claim that they did not declare 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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Culture

A building from Chișinău was declared “the ugliest building in the world”

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The “Romanița” building in the center of the Moldovan capital has been named by the French journalists as “the ugliest building in the world” in a documentary produced by Arte TV. The film is part of a French project that talks about socialist buildings, which are now abandoned.

This disappointed the artist from Moldova Tatiana Fiodorova, who appears as the protagonist in the documentary film and afterwards filed a complaint against the French channel Arte.TV.  “The documentary is more like an anti-communist horror movie than a research film. They cut and pasted the sequences in such a way that it changed the meaning of the words I said during the interview,” claimed the artist. Shortly after, Arte.TV renamed the documentary to “Moldova: The Colossal Communist Tower”.

Source: noi.md

The “Romanița” building has a height of about 73 meters, being the second tallest building in Chișinău. It has 22 floors, out of which 16 are inhabited by over 300 residents. A few years ago, this building attracted the attention of a team of Polish designers who made a selection of constructions from Eastern European countries that deserve attention, and which in time would degrade if no one intervenes.

In 2009, “Romanița” inspired Tatiana Fiodorova to realise an art project where she presented the uniqueness of this construction and the need to keep it. In this regard, she was contacted by several French journalists from Arte.TV who proposed to talk about the project and about the history of this building. “The filming for the documentary took 2 days. I talked about the project and how we collaborated with the locals, to give this building a new chance. The film’s producers asked me to invite some locals I told about. Some of them accepted. Now, the meaning of their message was transformed into a political one, although during the filming there was no ideological context, ” argued the artist.

Photo: noi.md

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