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An outline of the ‘Open Dialog’ scandal. PAS and DTPP in the gunsight of the Moldovan Parliament

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Yesterday, November 12th the second meeting of the parliamentary commission on the investigation concerning the Open Dialog Foundation took place. Initially, the representative of PAS (Party of Action and Solidarity) declared in a press release that Maia Sandu will go in the Parliament hearing in order to “make things clear and to end the lies spread in the so-called enquiry regarding the PAS funding sources.”

Maia Sandu and Andrei Nastase, the leaders of the electoral bloc “ACUM”, were waiting at the parliament entrance ready to enter along with the journalists, when they were announced that the commission would meet in a closed session and they are invited to the hearing one by one. Sandu and Nastase refused to participate, declaring it a farce. “There are no reasons for having the meeting in a closed session. We are not government workers. We don’t have any obligations to keep state secrets and they can’t discuss them with us”, mentioned Sandu. They organised a press conference right at the entrance of the Parliament. “There are two main goals of these closed meetings: first, discrediting PAS and DTPP (Dignity and Truth Platform Party), and the second, trying to remove our parties from the electoral campaign”, mentions Sandu during the press conference.

As official sources state, the main objective of the enquiry commission was to collect and analyse information, as well as to formulate recommendations, without any legal competences. Still, the president of the parliamentary commission – Igor Vremea, declared after the second hearing, that the leaders of PAS and DTPP were “obliged” by law to come at the second session, as the main scope was to hear their opinion on the information provided for the commission.

Background information

On October 4th, the Moldovan Parliament formed, at the initiative of DPM, an enquiry commission for elucidating the allegations of the Open Dialog Foundation and its founder’s – Ludmila Kozlowska, interference in the domestic affairs of the Republic of Moldova, as well as funding PAS and DTPP political parties.

The first official hearing was organised on November 2nd. It also was a meeting in closed session. From the very beginning, Maia Sandu asked to be summoned to a public hearing and refused to make statements to the committee in a closed session. According to the PAS leader, the closed sessions are “neither for revealing the truth by the Parliament, nor to inform people about what happened”. In response to that, Andrian Candu, the speaker of the Moldovan Parliament, declared that the Sandu’s request is an attempt to block the hearings, as she is aware that the analysed information is confidential.

Regarding the allegations that were made, Maia Sandu claimed that the only thing that was funded by the Open Dialog Foundation was a visit for an event in Brussels, having the European Parliament and the Open Dialog Foundation as the event’s organizers. Other than that, PAS never received any financial support from the Open Dialog Foundation.

Moreover, Ludmila Kozlovska denied in an interview for Jurnal TV that the Open Dialog Foundation has ever financed the opposition parties of Republic of Moldova. “It is a complete fabrication” she declared, “and it’s absurd that they consider me and my organisation a threat for Republic of Moldova”. She sees the act of organising a parliamentary commission as a desperate measure taken by DPM (Democratic Party of Moldova).

Open Dialog Foundation

The Open Dialog Foundation is involved at the moment in dealing with several cases of political prisoners from Russia, Republic of Moldova and Kazakhstan. After an analysis of the situation in Republic of Moldova, reports were sent to European Union institutions, and efforts were made on behalf of this institution for freezing the financial support from EU to Moldova. “In turn, Vladimir Plahotniuc started to denigrate the Open Dialog Foundation, this is how people had the opportunity to hear more often about it”, states Kozlovska.

What’s also important to be mentioned is that, according to the Newsmaker fact-check, the press release of the Parliament of Republic of Moldova contains several fake or misinterpreted information about Ludmila Kozlovska. For example, the press release text states that she was expatriated from Poland for being suspected of cooperation with Russian special forces. In reality, her entering in Belgium was banned on August 13, 2018 because Poland included her in the SIS (Schengen Information System) blacklist without stating any reason for that. About the so-called cooperation with the Russian special forces, wrote Marcin Rey, a polish blogger, and his article was mentioned as an “expert” source in the Moldovan Parliament press release.  Another fake information that was included in the press release and in the media, is that the Ukrainian Security Service blamed Ludmila Kozlovska in “betrayal of her homeland”, while she only appears as a witness in a court case.

Featured image source: zdg.md

Politics

The effect of Russia’s constitutional changes on the Transnistrian region

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A nationwide referendum is held in the Russian Federation between June 25 and July 1 in order to amend the constitution of the country.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the opportunity to vote during several days was provided. The voting process is held outside and, in addition, contactless voting at home, electronic voting and voting using the Mobile Voter mechanism are available.

In the Transnistrian region, voting was allowed for three days, from June 28-30, the whole process being organised under similar conditions as in Russia, the Tass News Agency announced.

According to a survey conducted at 800 Russian polling stations from June 25 to June 28, the majority of voters opted for the amendments, 23.6% opposed them and 0.4% invalidated the ballot paper,

Beside the amendment offering the possibility of prolonging the presidential term of Vladimir Putin (until 2036 instead of 2024), there are a a few controversial amendments to the Russian fundamental law.

Source: Facebook| The Center for the Study of the Transnistrian Conflict Consequences

Russian federal territories

One of the most important articles of the Constitution of the Russian Federation that could be amended is article no. 67,  which provides for creation of federal territories in Russia and introduction of the expression “subjects of the Russian Federation”.

“By making this change, Putin wants to make sure that certain federal subjects do not leave the Russian Federation, such as Chechnya, Tatarstan or Crimea, the latter being illegally occupied by the Russian Federation. The territory of the Republic of Moldova doesn’t belong to  the Russian Federation. However, taking into consideration the priorities that President Dodon and socialist have, one could draw a parallel.

During the propagandist Moscow parade, Putin mentioned in his speech that all neighbours ‘are part of the Russian world’. Moldova, according to Vladimir Putin, is part of his strategic interest. The fact that 11% of the Moldova’s territory is hosting occupation troops proves it one more time,” said security policy expert Rosian Vasiloi.

Previously, President Igor Dodon claimed that federalisation is the only solution to solving conflicts in the Republic of Moldova, including the Transnistrian one.

Source: Facebook| The Center for the Study of the Transnistrian Conflict Consequences

Russia as the legal successor to the Soviet Union

In the same article, a paragraph was introduced, saying that the Russian Federation is the legal successor of the Soviet Union. Another amending paragraph states that the Russian Federation honours the memory of the “Fatherland’s defenders” and ensures the protection of historical truth. “The diminution of the importance of the act of heroism in the defence of the Fatherland is not allowed.”

Historian Andrei Cusco mentioned that the victory in World War II is a myth that represented the main pillar of the regime’s ideology after Putin came to power in 2000. “Russia has taken certain moments from the Soviet communist narrative and reinterpreted them to serve the interests and visions of the current regime,” Cusco said.

The Criminal Code of the Russian Federation prohibits the dissemination of information that expresses a clear disrespect regarding the days of military glory and memorable dates in Russia related to the defence of the Fatherland, as Meduza informed.

A good example is the reaction of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Moldova to the TVR Moldova declaration that June 22, 1941 was the day when Romania entered the World War II to liberate the Russian-occupied lands in the summer of 1940. “For Romanians, this date went down in history as the day of starting the fight for the reunification of the nation. The President of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon, is not of the same opinion, as he stated that today is the day when the occupation of Bessarabia began,” it is said in the article.

The Embassy of the Russian Federation qualified the material as “uncivilised and extremely dangerous, because it justifies the war criminals.”

“Such tricks offend most Russian citizens who remember the common heroism of the Red Army that saved Europe from the Nazi plague.”

The perfect Russian child

One more completion to the constitution refers to children education, namely patriotism, citizenship and respect for the elderly.

The same approach existed during the USSR, when the principles of a very cultured man were considered love for the socialist homeland, friendship, companionship, humanity, honour, love for socialist work, etc.

 Marriage of a man and a woman

Another newly introduced amendment provides for the protection of the family, maternity, paternity and childhood, defending the institution of marriage as a union of a man and a woman, creating the conditions for a decent upbringing of children in a family, as well as for the fulfilment of the obligation to take care of parents.

Yet, another video promoting the amendment of the constitution promotes homophobia as well.

Crime against Russians

The Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner believes that the way of voting the amendments is not democratic. “There are many proposed amendments. Among them, there are those that I would be willing to support, but there are those that I am against of. Unfortunately, everything is organized in such a way, that either you order the entire dinner or none of the dishes,” he said.

Liubov Sobol, a Russian politician and lawyer at the Anticorruption Foundation, claimed that resetting Putin’s mandates to zero is a crime against Russians. “20 years were enough to implement all the reforms needed for our country. We saw that Putin failed. Corruption is flourishing in the country, we have a low level of education. There must be a change of power, and all eligible candidates must be allowed to run for president. People have to make a choice.”

This text is a translation. The original article here.

Photo: Facebook| The Center for the Study of the Transnistrian Conflict Consequences

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Diaspora

Record remittances sent to Moldova during the COVID-19 pandemic – expert’s explanation

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The remittances sent by Moldovans from abroad reached a record level in May 2020. The last time there was a larger amount of money transferred from abroad was only in October 2014.

The economic policy expert Veaceslav Ioniță believes that the significant increase is, paradoxically, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to his estimations, during the period of April-May, when there were quarantine and closed borders, Moldovan citizens could not bring into the country around $150 million. Part of this money were transferred through official transfer systems, that reducing the amount of unofficial transfers, is noted in the opinion published on the page of the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives (IDSI) “Viitorul”.

According to the expert, one third of all money from abroad are usually transferred to Moldova through informal ways, without using any official money transfer channels. “Each year, Moldovans receive almost $1.2 billion through official transfers, but also they sell on the foreign exchange market about $2.1 billion. The difference of 900 million dollars per year is the money that is introduced into the country through informal ways,” said the expert.

The total recorded transfers between April to May amounted $227 million, that being $14 million more than in 2019. At the same time, the foreign exchange sales during this period represented only 50% of the last year’s amount – $259 million. “April and May 2020 were the only two months in the history of transfers, when the money came almost exclusively through official channels. This explains this ‘miraculous’ growth,” concluded Veaceslav Ioniță.

The number of Moldovan citizens aged 15 and over who were working or were looking for a job abroad was 352 700 in 2018, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data. That represented 35,68% of the total available workforce of the country in the same year.

People living in the Republic of Moldova, along with the whole economy of the country, are greatly dependant on the remittances sent by the Moldovan citizens who live abroad. About 20% of all families with children in Moldova are supported by a family member who is a migrant. The concentration of such families in rural areas is three times higher than in urban areas, according to data from the NBS cited by the UNDP Moldova.

This money represent not only an important source of income for people living in Moldova, but also contribute to the increase of GDP nominal value. In 2018, the Republic of Moldova has been listed the 9th in a world ranking of remittances related to GDP, with a share of 16,1%, according to the World Bank data.

See also: Who? How? Where? Why? The migration profile of the Republic of Moldova

Due to the negative impact of COVID-19, remittances sent to Moldova are expected to decrease by 24-27% in the future, informed the UNDP Moldova. Decreasing remittance flows were predicted by the World Bank in the whole world. It was estimated that about 17% of all migrants have already stopped remitting to their families. In such a way, 23,4% of Moldovan households risk to be placed below the poverty line if they did not receive remittances.

Photo: Sharon McCutcheonUnsplash

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Important

The state of Public Health Emergency was prolonged until July 15. Restrictions that remain in place

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The National Extraordinary Public Health Commission (NEPHC) decided, on June 23, to extend the state of Public Health Emergency until July 15, taking into consideration that the epidemiological situation in the country is characterised by the confirmation of cluster cases (groups of cases over time, geographical location and/or joint exposure), as it is mentioned in the NEPHC decision.

The previously imposed restrictions will be maintained: groups of maximum three people in public spaces, meetings with the participation of maximum 50 people with a strict evidence of their identity, restricted access to public spaces of people aged 63 and over, no private events can be organised, as well as the activity of nightclubs, educational, cultural, sport centres, rest camps, treatment institutions remains blocked.

The access of foreign citizens and stateless persons is still forbidden on the territory of Moldova, with the following exceptions (established on May 15):

  • family members of the citizens of the Republic of Moldova;
  • persons holding a long-stay visa, a residence permit or a document equivalent to a residence permit issued by the authorities;
  • persons being on business trips, proved by a visa, residence permit or other equivalent document;
  • members of diplomatic missions and consular posts accredited in Republic of Moldova, of international organisations / missions, as well as members of their families or personnel who provide humanitarian aid;
  • passengers in transit, including those who are repatriated.

Persons who enter the Republic of Moldova during this period have to fill in an epidemiological form, as well as a declaration on their own responsibility to comply with the self-isolation regime of 14 days in determined places.

At the same time, the decision provides for the resumption, starting July 1, of all activities except the activities mentioned previously.

According to the most updated data provided by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection (MHLSP), there are 15 078 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Moldova at the moment, including 8400 cases of people who recovered and 495 cases of death. On June 24, there were 364 newly confirmed cases, while the total number of taken tests reached 69 943 until June 23.

Photo: Romania Insider

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