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Moldova Weekly News Digest, 22 January 2017

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-On January 17th, the President of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon, met Russia President Vladimir Putin to discuss the Moldo-Russian relations. The Presidents reportedly talked on the Transnistrian conflict settlement, returning the Moldovan goods on the Russian marketsituation of Moldovan working migrants in Russia, economic and commercial cooperation, but also that in the humanitarian and cultural spheres.

In a joint press conference with Putin, Dodon also declared that he would pledge to cancel the Association Agreement of Moldova with the European Union, if his former Socialists’ Party (PSRM) wins a majority at the next Parliament elections.

By the way, I was always against the signing of this Agreement. This document has brought nothing to the Republic of Moldova. We lost the Russian market. However strange, our exports to the European Union also decreased, so did not get anything from this agreement.

I don’t exclude that, after the next Parliamentary elections when I hope that PSRM will obtain a Parliamentary majority, this Agreement will be cancelled, declared Dodon at the joint press conference with Putin.

Igor Dodon’s statement on the Association Agreement with the EU actually misinforms the public by presenting wrong information and there’s proof for that.

-The Democrat oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc reacted to the declaration of the Moldovan President Igor Dodon in Moscow on possibly cancelling the Association Agreement with the European Union. Plahotniuc stressed, in a Facebook post, that Moldova should not show contradictory signals of foreign policy since it has only the European external vector.

Moldova’s prime minister, Pavel Filip on Wednesday reacted angrily to a suggestion by the nation’s president that the ex-Soviet republic may shelve a trade pact with the European Union. In a statement to The Associated Press, Premier Pavel Filip said Moldova’s constitution did not allow the president “to announce or take such decisions,” which he called “pure, political rhetoric.”

Filip said his pro-European government would “not accept any intervention,” from Dodon about a matter outside the president’s authority. “Quite the contrary, we will accelerate the implementation of undertaken commitments,” the statement said “The Association Agreement is part of our governing program, it’s one of the strategic pillars of the country…. and we will deliver on reforms and increase citizen welfare.”

“The European Union will not accept a discussion in trilateral format- Moldova, EU and Russia- on the Association Agreement signed with the Republic of Moldova. The question regards only Chișinău and Brussels”, says a response of the EU Delegation to Moldova to MoldNova.

The statement of the EU delegation comes in the context of President Dodon’s declaration at Moscow that the Association Agreement has not brought little or any benefits to Moldova, but also Vladimir Putin’s aggressive proposal to review the contract together with Russia.

-Political analyst Mihai Popșoi writes that “Dodon’s visit to Moscow has been a major PR stunt for the Socialists, with little to no benefits for Moldova” in his piece “How Dodon sold his country and his soul to Putin”. Moreover, the “stunt” has been beneficial for the ruling Democratic Party, who apparently defended the pro-European vector while forgetting the help given to Dodon to win the Presidential elections.

-On January 17th, the Moldovan President Igor Dodon had a meeting in Moscow with the representatives of the Eurasian Economic Union and the head of its Economic Commission, Tigran Sarkisyan.

In his Facebook post, Dodon writes that he would have agreed to sign in Spring a memorandum of cooperation between the Republic of Moldova and the Eurasian Economic Union. Moreover, he asked the union representatives to allow Moldova as an observer state, but also to discuss the formation of a roadmap for Moldova’s integration into the Eurasian Economic Union.

-The Moldovan President, Igor Dodon, believes that the Russian peace-keepers deployed in the breakaway Transnistria are the guarantor of peace in the region. The statement was made during Dodon’s TASS press conference in Moscow, Russia, on January 17th.

Dodon stresses that the peace-keepers appeared in Transnistria for a certain reason in 1992.

“It is necessary to understand that peacekeepers at the Nistru river did not appear accidentally, but because of the conflict. And they were and remain the guarantor of certain stability. They are there to ensure trust between the banks”, declared Dodon.

-The President of Moldova Igor Dodon recognized that the debt for natural gas of the breakaway Transnistria is part of Moldova’s total debt to the Russian Gazprom.

After meeting Gazprom head Alexey Miller on January 17th, Dodon stated that the Moldovan authorities would study the possible variants of paying back, even by including some assets used by Moldovagaz, the debt of 500 million US dollars of Moldova. Still, Dodon added $6 billion debt of Transnistria to Moldova’s mainland debt for natural gas.

“There are certain preliminary plans for resolving this situation. The mainland Moldova’s debt is of nearly US$500 million, while Transnistria’s debt – nearly US$6 billion. We have to understand that the whole debt – more than US$6.5 million – is Moldova’s total debt”, Dodon said.

-On January 17th, the leader of the so-called Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic, Vadim Krasnoselsky, ordered to fulfill his electoral promise to make the natural gas free for socially vulnerable groups of the breakaway Transnistria. Thus, veterans, defenders of Transnistria, distinct workers and pensioners will receive a quota of 1000 cubic meters of natural gas during the heating season, free of charge.

The natural gas consumed by the Transnistrian region is only partially paid to Gazprom, the majority of the costs being laid on the Moldovagaz, the main gas supplier of Moldova. During his recent visit to Moscow, the President of Moldova Igor Dodon recognized that the debt for natural gas of the breakaway Transnistria is part of Moldova’s total debt to the Russian Gazprom. Dodon added $6 billion debt of Transnistria to Moldova’s mainland debt of $500 million for natural gas, raising anger among the Moldovan citizens who refuse to pay Transnistrian debt as part of the gas tariff.

-On January 20th, Ambassador Wolf Dietrich Heim concluded his visit in Moldova as the Special Representative of the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship for the Transnistrian Settlement Process. He “assessed the commitment of the sides to engage in a substantive, result-oriented dialogue put forward last year by the 5+2 international partners under the German OSCE Chairmanship” and “underlined the importance to remain focused on the implementation of the Berlin Protocol and other issues important to both sides, such as the Dubasari farmland issue, the operation of the Latin script schools and freedom of movement of people and goods”.

The Austrian diplomat also announced that the Austrian Foreign Minister and current Chairman of OSCE, Sebastian Kurz, would visit Moldova in February to prepare the parties of the 5+2 format for a working meeting in 2017.

-On January 16th, 10 Liberal members of the Moldovan Parliament announced they initiated a procedure to suspend the President of Moldova, Igor Dodon, and to call a referendum for his dismissal. The Liberal leader Mihai Ghimpu asks for support from the government coalition MPs, since the initiative needs to be signed by at least 34 deputies, which the Liberal caucus does not have, to be valid. According to Ghimpu, Dodon violated the Constitution and the Penal Code when congratulating the separatist leader Vadim Krasnoselski on the election as president of the breakaway Transnistria.

The Democratic Party, which rules the government coalition, answered to the call by asking the Liberal Party to come with details and arguments at the base of the initiate at the coalition meeting. Moreover, the Democrats say they would agree to sign a request to the Constitutional Court to check on the violations of the Constitution.

-On January 16th, the Prime-Minister of Moldova, Pavel Filip, rejected the Presidential proposal of Igor Dodon to dismiss the Ambassador of the Republic to Romania, his Excellency Mihai Gribincea. The proposal was sent on the same day by President Dodon with the claim that Ambassador Gribincea supported an “opinion from outside, contrary to the national interests of the Republic of Moldova” by declaring that the revoking of Moldovan citizenship of the Romania ex-President Traian Băsescu might be doubted in legal terms.

-On 20 January 2017, the Prime-Minister of Moldova, Pavel Filip, presented the results of his Government in the first year of its activity. According to Filip, the year was hard, but productive for his Cabinet. Here are the numbers and results brought by Filip in his report.

Experts see the recovery and growth of Moldova during Filip Government as resulting from the external assistance renewed by the EU, the IMF, the World Bank, following the implementation of several reforms and better management of the banking sector. At the opposite, the civil society has raised concerns throughout 2016 that the current Government does not conduct visible reformation of the justice, with only superficial reform of the Prosecution Office, and that it does not respond to challenges of political prosecution and intimidation of journalists and extra-Parliamentary political opponents.

-The Government of the United Kingdom has launched a review of the Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLP) after finding links to the $1 billion frauds in Moldova.

The UK Government is now questioning the usefulness of SLPs, which have legal capacity to hold assets, borrow money from banks and enter into contacts. The decision comes after finding the use of SLPs for criminal activity such as the transfer of one billion US dollars from three Moldovan banks to shell Scottish companies as loans, sent back to Eastern European banks accounts afterwards.

-On January 17th, the Buiucani Court of Chișinău issued another warrant for 30 days of home arrest for the businessman and Orhei mayor Ilan Shor. Prosecutor investigating the case, Andrei Băieșu, declared that the request for home arrest of Shor was accepted with the same reasons, with little exceptions on the need of some expertise of the case.

Shor is accused of obtaining more than 5 billion lei from Banca de Economii in loans, from 4th to 25th of November 2014, the sum being confirmed by the Kroll report, and then laundering them through offshore companies.

-Zarina Alimbaeva writes at Transitions Online that Moldovan prisons are overcrowded and undeveloped.

“Critics from the Council of Europe to the government itself say Moldova needs a more humane prison system. And they’ve kept on saying it for years”, says Alimbaeva.

-On January 16th, the former deputy Prosecutor General of Moldova, Andrei Pântea, was condemned to 2 years of imprisonment for power abuse in transferring the case of thief-in-law Grigore Karamalak to the Russian Federation.

The same court decided that the former prosecutor should be release under amnesty, since the accusation party asked for it. Therefore, the abuse of power was changed to involvement in the exercise of justice and penal investigation, stipulated by the law on the penal amnesty.

-Vladimir Botnari, former chief policeman of Chișinău, previously judged for negligence during the 7 April 2009 revolts, asks prosecutors to bring to justice the journalist of Center for Journalistic Investigations, Mariana Rață. Botnari submitted a complaint to the Prosecution Office of Chișinău, invoking that the journalist accessed and distributed, without his consent, personal data regarding him and members of his family. Moreover, the former policeman asks to prosecute everyone that accessed and distributed his personal data starting from October 2009 until now.

Vladimir Botnari, Screen: ProTV

Former chief policeman, who previously held various high positions between 2002 and 2009, was judged together with the former Interior Minister Gheorghe Papuc for negligence at service during the revolts in April 2009, resulted in the death of Valeriu Boboc beaten by a policeman. On 30 June 2015, Botnari was acquitted by the Supreme Court of Justice, saving him from suspended two years of detention and Papuc from 4 years of imprisonment. Both were revoked of their general military grades.

Currently studying International Relations at the University of Pécs, Hungary. Study focus: Transnistrian conflict settlement, Moldovan statehood, Moldovan democracy. Inquiries at [email protected]

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Federica Mogherini: We will keep a close eye on the formation of the Moldovan government and its future programme.

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One of the topics discussed at the Meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council held on March 18th, 2019, was the current political situation in the Republic of Moldova following the parliamentary elections of February 24th.

Foreign ministers highlighted the importance of a transparent and credible government formation process that should reflect a genuine parliamentary majority that respects the outcome of the elections, as it is mentioned in the outcome document of the council meeting. They stressed the importance of non-interference in the formation process and the fact that the EU does not support individual parties and specific political actors, but values and principles.

At the same time, the Council reiterated that the basis for EU cooperation with Moldova is the implementation of the Association Agreement and confirmed the importance of the principle of conditionality in delivering macro-financial assistance to Moldova, which had to be withheld following serious deterioration in the areas of rule of law and the upholding of democratic principles. On the other hand, foreign ministers highlighted the critical importance of offering support to Moldovan citizens and to civil society.

At the press conference following the Foreign Affairs Council meeting, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, presented the remarks regarding the previously discussed topics.

“We assessed with the Foreign Ministers the state of play, with full respect of the politics of the country and still with the willingness to support the reform agenda in the country and the rule of law and the democratic perspectives there. We have expressed some concerns and, obviously, agreed that we will keep a close eye on the formation of the government and the programme that the government will put in place,” claimed Mogherini.

Additionally, the High Representative declared that the Council won’t enter into the discussions about coalitions and formation of the government. However, it is crucial “to stay vigilant on the rule of law situation and most of all the implementation of the [EU-Moldova] Association Agreement agenda with Moldova that is a key partner in the Eastern Partnership.”

According to the preliminary conclusions of the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission stated in the Background Brief document of Foreign Affairs Council, the elections were “competitive and fundamental rights were generally respected.” However, shortcomings were noted throughout the campaign and on the election day, including “allegations of pressure on public employees, strong indications of vote buying and the misuse of state resources.” The Mission also noted that “control and ownership of the media by political actors limited the range of viewpoints presented to voters.”

Photo: eeas.europa.eu

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The CEC confirmed the results of the parliamentary elections in the Republic of Moldova

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The Central Electoral Commission (CEC) summarized the results of the parliamentary elections held on February 24th, 2019 in the national constituency and in the single-seat constituencies. The results were announced during a press conference on March 3rd.

According to the CEC data, the parliamentary mandates are distributed as following:

  • the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova – 35 mandates;
  • the Democratic Party of Moldova  – 30 mandates;
  • the electoral bloc ACUM formed of the Party of Action and Solidarity and the Dignity and Truth Platform Party – 26 mandates;
  • the “Șor” Party – 7 mandates;
  • independent candidates – 3 mandates.

According to the Electoral Code, a report of the summarized results, announced during the CEC meeting, must be submitted to the Constitutional Court for the validation of the poll within 24 hours.

Within five days after receiving the CEC documents, the magistrates of the Constitutional Court must confirm or deny the legality of the elections and validate the mandates of the new members of the Parliament.

The CEC specified that a total of 1 457 220 voters participated in the national constituency elections, out of which 76 583 persons voted in the polling stations opened abroad, and 37 257 persons – in the polling stations from Transnistria.

In the single-seat constituencies, 1 441 326 voters participated in the parliamentary elections, out of which 76 642 persons exercised their right to vote in the polling stations opened abroad and 36 696 persons – in the polling stations from Transnistria.

Photo: cec.md

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Tiraspol’s separatist leader, Krasnoselski, commemorates 27 years since “Moldova’s aggression against Transnistria”

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Today, Tiraspol’s separatist leader, Vadim Krasnoselski, commemorates “27 years since the beginning of Moldova’s massive aggression on Transnistria,” the NovostiPMR agency communicates.

“Moldovan combatants intended to eliminate Transnistrian statehood with tanks and planes, operating terrorist groups,” according to Krasnoselski.

Really? Let’s see what the other side has to say.

“11% of the territory of the Republic of Moldova is under the occupation of the Russian Federation”

Security expert Rosian Vasiloi notes that the place of Krasnoselskii, Smirnov, Ignatiev, and other leading people is in jail for the crimes committed during these 28 years of independence. According to the expert, these are the fruits of political need promoted to all governments.

“So Krasnoselski running freely on the right bank of Nistru and using the Chisinau airport to fly to his masters in Moscow, isn’t counted as “massive aggression of Moldova against Transnistria”?

When receiving money from the Moldovan Government for electricity so that the people of Transnistria survive, while part of this money is being stolen and shifting to obscure circles in Chisinau, isn’t “massive aggression of Moldova against Transnistria”?

Today I saw state dignitaries, ministers, officials, smiling with flowers in hand to monuments. It seems that ruling a country feels like playing. For me, the war is not over yet. It will end when the left bank of the Nistru will be fully integrated with the right bank. This is possible, but not with those who go on monuments on March 2, smiling.”

One of the most complicated conflicts in the post-soviet space

In a comment made in 2017 by the Doctor of History, Institute of History of the ASM, Octavian Ticu, it is mentioned that the Transnistrian crisis was artificially created by Moscow at the beginning of 1990 against the backdrop of the systemic crisis in the USSR and the intensification of the national movements in the Soviet republics. Faced with the likelihood of the Soviet Union leaving the USSR, Anatoly Lukianov, president of the USSR Supreme Soviet, with Dmitry Iazov’s involvement, and Boris Pugo, Minister of Defense and Interior Affairs, decided to create two states on the territory of Moldova: the left bank and another in Gagauzia. At the same time, the Soviet official has created a link between the issue of local separatism in Moldova and the commitment of MSSR to sign the new Soviet treaty initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev in hopes of saving the Soviet Union.

The first effective support from Moscow for the Transnistrians came in September 1990 when troops of the Soviet Interior Ministry were detached to defend the “Congress” of the Russian-speaking elites who had declared the independence of the “Transnistrian Republic” to Moldova within the Soviet Union. The intervention of the troops had the general role of conflict management – in this case, to discourage a possible attempt by Chisinau to forcefully force the force, as it threatened. But there was also a second goal: to exert pressure on Moldova to either abandon the aspirations of independence or to be dismembered.

The 14th Army troops, comprising many people born in the Transnistrian region, have also been encouraged by the openness to Tiraspol by the Ministry of Defense. Thus, when in November 1990, not far from Dubasari, the first Moldovan-Transnistrian army confrontation erupted, the Transnistrian Russian language speakers had on their side not only armed volunteer formations but also the expectation of supporting the Soviet troops.

The conflict between the new authorities in Chisinau and the “MRI” erupted at the end of the spring-summer of 1992, leading to the loss of several hundred lives. The conflict would soon be eclipsed by other events in the world, disappearing from headlines. It still remains one of the most complicated conflicts in post-Soviet space, both in terms of its prehistory and in terms of its political implications and possible developments. Although the July 7, 1992, was concluded a ceasefire, a solution to the disputes underlying the conflict was not yet found – legal and territorial status of the left bank of the Moldovan state.

The full comment can be read here.
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