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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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Dumitru Alaiba: Vlad Plahotniuc has a Czech nationality as well?

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Deputy of the ‘ACUM’ bloc Dumitru Alaiba wonders whether the former DPM leader and oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc is Czech citizen. He recently posted an extract from what appears to be a document saying this:

According to the deputy, on June 4, Plahotniuc tried to open a new company in the UK.

“It seems that Vladimir Plahotniuc, before being taken down from the government, was busy with business development. On June 4, 2019, he was trying to open a new company in the UK – with a Czech passport. There’s nothing illegal, of course. It’s just that I didn’t know about it” wrote Alaiba on his personal blog.

The deputy urged Moldovan diaspora in London to visit the address from the document, in case they are in the area.

Read more: Vlad Plahotniuc made good use of his passport long before he became a political man

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The Kroll 2 Report: 77 of Ilan Shor’s companies received $2,900,000,000 in loans

Kroll was contracted by the National Bank of Moldova on January 28, 2015, in order to investigate money laundering frauds in three banks: Banca de Economii, Banca Sociala and Unibank. The amount of the contract was not made public. The Kroll 2 report, published by the parliamentary investigation commission on bank fraud, spans 154 pages. However more details, such as company or person names, have been deleted.

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At the same time, the report does not contain the list of beneficiaries of bank fraud. Kroll 2 presents the schemes where bad loans were offered, but also how these funds have later circulated. The report contains the list of the 77 companies within the URB group, as well as the loans they have taken from the Moldovan banks.

In interviews, they were experts at Kroll with employees at Banca de Economii, and it was found that many relevant materials related to loans offered to Ilan Shor’s group were destroyed in suspicious circumstances of a fire in late November 2014.

The report states that between 1 January 2012 and 26 November 2014, the Banca de Economii, Banca Sociala and Unibank offered $2.9 billion in loans to companies in the Shor Group.

Money earned on loans was redirected to foreign accounts in the Latvian banks ABVL and Privatbank, through which they were laundered. These accounts appear to be open only for this purpose because they did not record any other transactions.

Another part of the loans was transferred to the bank accounts of the Republic of Moldova, Russia, but also other jurisdictions.

The loans went through a coordinated money-laundering process and then disappeared into several bank accounts.

Part of the loans offered to the companies in the Shor group remained in Moldova. The tracking of the initial destination of the funds showed that the amounts remained in the accounts held at the three banks or were transferred to other banks in Moldova to pay for other loans. At the same time, more money was mixed with other funds, so it was impossible to track them later.

Out of the 2.9 billion US dollars, Kroll points out that about 220 million US dollars remained in the Republic of Moldova and were used to repay loans from the Banca Sociala, Banca de Economii and Unibank, and other banks.

The full Kroll 2 report can be read here:

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2019 UN World Population Prospects: Moldova is expected to lose around 17% of its population by 2050

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The latest, 2019 UN World Population Prospects report that Moldova is one of the 10 European countries (besides Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania) that experienced both a negative natural increase and negative net migration rate during 2010-2019. Surprisingly enough, the UN prospects highlight that Moldova is also one of the 27 countries that have experienced a population decrease of at least 1% since 2010.

Accordingly, compared with countries like Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Latvia, Moldova is expected to lose around 17% of its population by 2050.

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