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Were the parliamentary elections in the Republic of Moldova free and fair? The conclusion of election observation missions

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Several national and international elections observation missions issued official statements and reports comprising preliminary findings and conclusions regarding the parliamentary elections in the Republic of Moldova held on February 24th. Some of them raised a red flag, expressing their concerns about the way the election process was organised.

The OSCE International Election Observation Mission of the parliamentary elections mentioned in its report that “The 24 February 2019 parliamentary elections were competitive and fundamental rights were generally respected.”

The report stated that due to the control and ownership of the media by political actors, the range of viewpoints presented to voters was limited. In the same time, “most aspects of the elections were administered in a professional and transparent manner.”

Taking into consideration that these were the first elections held under the mixed electoral system and that a referendum was held on the same day, “the electoral bodies faced difficulties with reconciling result protocols” and it also “caused confusion among some voters and commission members.”

Even though the report highlighted that “the legal framework generally provided an adequate basis for conducting democratic elections,” it also mentioned that the lack of transparency in the way some polling stations were allocated “contributed to the perception that the decision was made for political reasons.” Here is important to add that several polling stations abroad were allocated in small cities of Italy or USA, for example, in contradiction to the Moldovan voters’ preliminary registration for the elections.

The OSCE report brought up the subject of media reflection of the electoral campaigning, saying that some national TV channels did not comply with the legal requirements to provide fair, balanced and impartial campaign coverage.

“Main campaign messages focused on socio-economic issues, while geopolitical and foreign policy topics received less attention.”

Additionally, the report noted the “large-scale bussing of voters from Transnistria and that police initiated an investigation into whether some of them were paid to vote.”

On the other hand, the statement of Transparency International – Moldova on monitoring parliamentary elections was less optimistic:

“Transparency International – Moldova expresses its deep concern about the spread of political corruption in the Republic of Moldova and the superficiality with which some institutions have monitored the parliamentary elections of February 24, 2019.”

The organisation noted that “these elections took place in conditions of state capture, when most of the relevant public institutions demonstrated political fidelity to the ruling party, often neglecting legal rigor.”

The context mentioned by Transparency International – Moldova included money laundering; the legislative initiatives dedicated to legalizing money with fraudulent provenience (the citizenship by investment law and the law on capital liberalization and the fiscal amnesty); modifying the electoral system, despite the recommendations of the Venice Commission; issuing integrity certificates to compromised candidates; massive persecution of political opponents, local leaders, civic activists through law enforcement institutions and controlled media; mass transportation of voters from Transnistria and their compulsion to vote for a specific candidate for payment; launching populist projects involving enormous public resources by the parties in power; impeding the diaspora to vote using expired passports or contest this limitation of the right to vote, etc.

The Civic Coalition for Free and Fair Elections assessed the parliamentary elections of February 24th, 2019 as incorrect and partially free. The assessment was made based on the electoral system modification prior to the elections, use of the administrative resources in electoral campaigning, voters bribing, restriction of the voting rights of citizens from diaspora, lacunae and errors in the State Electoral Register and voter rolls, intimidation of national observers and attempts to compromise civic education campaigns, etc.

The Promo-LEX Observation Mission for the parliamentary elections of February 24, 2019 presented in a press release 420 incidents that occurred during the election day. The incidents included 8 cases of providing restricted access or obstruction of free observation in the polling station, 22 cases of violence or intimidation of voters, 22 cases of rumours, attempts, or even factual material or monetary rewards offered to voters in the perimeter and /or near the polling station to influence the voters’ choice, 38 cases of unjustified group voting, 24 cases of unjustified presence of unauthorized persons within the polling station, 18 cases of electoral campaigning or adverse campaigning at the entrance to/in the polling station in order to influence the voters’ choice, 39 cases of organised transportation of voters, 61 cases of deficiencies in electoral lists (address discrepancies, deceased voters, signatures in place of other people), 13 cases of deficiencies in the operation of the SIAS Elections System (suspension of operation, situations when SIAS Elections System indicates that the voter voted, and he claims not to), 50 cases of photographing of ballot papers or other violations of the secret voting, 4 cases of voting of a suspiciously large number of voters residing at one and the same address, and others.

Photo: sputnik.md

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RISE: The four parties in the new Legislature have spent 57,400,000 lei in five weeks of election campaign

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The four parties in the new legislature dug 57,400,000 lei in only five weeks of electoral campaign. The biggest winners of the electoral race are the televisions affiliated to the Democratic Party, which accounted for about 20,000,000 lei in advertising, according to a RISE Moldova investigation.

Plahotniuc’s Democratic Party has spent almost all the campaign money to promote its candidates in every place possible: TV, radio, posters, billboards, flyers, etc.. The main beneficiaries are six TV channels – Publika TV, Prime TV, Canal 2, Channel 3, CTC Media, Domashniy family, and four radio stations – Publika FM, FM Radio, Russkoe Radio, Maestro FM, all headquartered on Ghioceilor Street 1. They have collected more than 15,000,000 lei for broadcasting the Democrats’ spots.

More than 8,500,000 lei went to Prime and Publika TV, positions held by General Media Group Corp. SRL (Details HERE and HERE).

In other words, the money came into the pocket of our beloved oligarch and the direct owner of these two televisions, Vladimir Plahotniuc

A sum nearly 6 times higher than that of the Socialist Party, and more than 16 times the amount that those in the ‘ACUM’ opposition bloc have been able to spend. The Shor Party has achieved two-thirds of the Democrats’ performance, with an electoral budget of less than 10,000,000 lei.

The electoral bloc ‘ACUM’ had the lowest electoral budget, mostly achieved through citizens’ donations – roughly 1,800,000 lei.

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PNL in Chisinau: “Unfortunately, as seen from Bucharest, things are getting worse in Moldova”

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Today, in Chisinau, the National Liberal Party of Romania (PNL) is launching the candidates for the May 26, 2019 elections to the European Parliament. Under the slogan “It’s time for Bessarabia along with Romania in the first place”, the party presented its candidates, being supported by the leaders of the bloc ‘ACUM’ Maia Sandu and Andrei Nastase.

In Chisinau there are the PNL chairman, Ludovic Orban, MEP and EPP spokesman, Siegfried Mureşan, journalist Rareş Bogdan, television and PNL list, as well as the PNL lawmakers.

According to journalist Rareş Bogdan, democracy in Moldova is in danger.

“Unfortunately, as seen from Bucharest, things are getting worse in Moldova, and the opposition is under threat and pressure. The power excuses represented by Vlad Plahotniuc and Igor Dodon are inferior to those who supported the leaders of the bloc ‘ACUM’. The fact that they have reached over 800 mayoral mandates in 900 clearly shows that democracy is in great danger. I ask publicly here from Chisinau that the Romanian state should be more careful about the territories over the Prut.”

The PAS leader, Maia Sandu, urged Moldovan citizens who possess Romanian citizenship, to vote.

“We are worried about the things that happen in the European Union, in general, because there are populist, corrupt politicians who want to weaken the European Union. That is why we want the next parliament to become responsible deputies.”

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9 out of 12 airlines from Moldova were banned from operating in the EU skies

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Nine Moldovan airlines were included in the European Commission’s revised list of airlines that do not meet international safety standards and are subject to a ban on operating in the European Union (EU).

According to the European Commission information cited by Agerpres, all Moldovan air carriers certified by the authorities with responsibility for regulatory oversight of Moldova with the exception of Air Moldova, Fly One and Aerotranscargo have been included in the list because of the lack of safety oversight by the Civil Aviation Authority of Moldova.

Moldovan airlines banned in the EU:

Source: ec.europa.eu

All in all, 120 airlines have been banned from operating in the EU: 114 companies registered in 16 states due to lack of oversight by the airline authorities of those countries, plus six other companies due to concerns about the security of these companies: Avior Airlines (Iran), Iran Aseman Airlines (Iran), Iraqi Airways Iraq), Blue Wing Airlines (Suriname), Med-View Airlines (Nigeria) and Air Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe). According to the European Commission, the EU’s list of airlines banned within the EU has become a major preventive tool, motivating countries to act before a ban is needed.

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