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Poll ordered by Democratic Party: Socialists-24,7%, PAS-16,3%, PDM-12,4%, PDA-5%

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IMAS published the results of a poll on the political preferences of Moldovans at the request of the Democratic Party of Moldova.

The poll shows that the rating for the government party Democratic Party increased- to 12,4%. Nevertheless, the Socialists’ Party would lead with 24,7% of votes in the Parliamentary elections, Action and Solidarity Party- 16,3%. Close to the 5% threshold are Platform “Dignity and Truth” rated at 6,4% and the Communists’ Party with 5%. 9,4% of respondents declared they wouldn’t vote, while 14,1% didn’t know how to answer.

Source: IMAS Moldova

In a case of a referendum, 60% of Moldovans would vote for Moldova join the European Union. 44% would vote for the Eurasian Economic Union, 32% for union with Romania and only 21% for joining NATO. Between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union, 56% of  Moldovans prefer the EU.

36% rated the activity of President Igor Dodon with grades from 7 to 10, 33% did so for PAS leader Maia Sandu and PM Pavel Filip, 31% for suspended Chișinău mayor Dorin Chirtoacă.

46% of people have little confidence in the Government led by Pavel Filip, 29% have none or very little confidence, while 19% believe in Filip’s cabinet.

According to the poll, 45% of Moldovans have a bad opinion about the initiative of some NGOs and several parties to start a referendum on switching the electoral system back to a proportional one. 38% have a good opinion about the latter. On the other hand, 63% think to spend the money on this referendum would not be justified.

The poll was conducted during November 27-December 7 with 1101 respondents, with an error rate of 3%.

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

Politics

RISE Moldova: The new Democratic Party fortress

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Last November, the Democratic Party unveiled its logo on the facade of the new headquarters in Armeneasca street in the capital city.

The Democratic Party move out caused an avalanche of changes throughout the whole neighborhood – major repair works, state-evacuated state institutions, restricted parking on the adjacent streets, and the whole region – hard to secure – all this for the comfort and safety of the Democrats, according to a RISE Moldova investigation.

The headquarters of the Democratic Party (PD) are two steps away from the Bulgara boulevard block in which Vladimir Plahotniuc, the leader of the political party, officially lives.

Raised on the terrace of a four-meter-high stand, the building has four floors and over 7,200 square meters.

Until the Democratic Party moves out, the real estate has been devastated for almost ten years. High in 2006-2008 by Stayer SRL, the project site is identified as “administrative building and hotel”. Stayer is the family business of Vladimir Baldovici, a former Communist construction minister.

Officially, the owner of the new Democratic headquarters is the Constar Invest company. She bought the building in January 2017, not two weeks after Plahotniuc took over the leadership of the PD.

Constar Invest was founded in 2008, and true recipients hide behind Jarrow Business, a Belize offshore.

PROSECUTOR

The move of the Democrats to the new house was preceded by a true metamorphosis of the whole area. From the opposite construction, a building with an exit to the Stephen the Great boulevard, several economic agents and state institutions were evicted, such as the State Registration Chamber or the Stock Exchange.

The evacuated authorities include the Judiciary building of the Center district, where alleged criminals were brought to trial daily. As a rule, detainees were disembarked at the back entrance of the building, that is, just in front of the new PD headquarters.

In the building of almost 3,400 square meters it is the exclusive place for several structures of the prosecutor’s office who remains to move into it. Not even before the repairing process began, works worth almost 23 million lei started after the evacuation.

The walls were plastered, the windows and doors were changed, the electricity networks and the sewer system were repaired out of the sum of money. As a matter of fact, the works started behind the building of the Prosecutor’s Office, which points exactly to the main entrance of the Democratic headquarters. The façade was only over a year and it has lasted until now.

The full text of the investigation can be read HERE.

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Politics

What will be the expenditure for the referendum organised on the same day with the parliamentary election?

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The Central Election Commission (CEC) approved the expenditure budget for conducting the Republican Consultative Referendum on 24 February 2019 along with the parliamentary elections appointed for the same date. The referendum organized at the initiative of Vladimir Plahotniuc will cost over 10 million lei.

According to the CEC president Alina Russu, the amount of 10.162 million lei will be used for the procurement of electoral materials as ballot papers, badges, forms and minutes for recording the events, as well as for the training organised by CEC regarding the election process.

“The expenditures also refer to the enlargement of the team that will be in charge with the organization and operation of the referendum,” Alina Russu said.

CEC meeting on December 14th, 2018| Source: privesc.eu

On November 13th, Vladimir Plahotniuc announced from the Democratic Party’s tribune the implementation of a political reform to optimize the Moldovan Parliament. The DPM leader announced the organization of a referendum to reduce the number of deputies from 101 to 61, but also to ensure citizens’ control over the work of the deputies. “Citizens can withdraw the deputies’ mandates when they have disappointed and no longer represent the voters,” as Plahotniuc declares. He also mentioned the opportunity of saving public budget money in case the referendum is held in the same day with the election’s day.

Vladimir Plahotniuc announcing the referendum | Source: zdg.md

What Vladimir Plahotniuc and the DPM didn’t mention is that before November 8th, 2018 it wasn’t possible to organise a referendum in a period of 60 days before and after elections. The modification of the article number 152, 2nd paragraph of the Electoral Code was made in a hidden way, as the bill that included the modifications was voted without even mentioning that it contained such an important amendment. Moreover, when asked about the way the Electoral Code was modified, the DPM deputy Sergiu Sîrbu declared that the changes were legally operated and that it is the problem of those parliament members that didn’t read the syntheses.

The draft decision on the organization of the referendum was voted in the last full session of the Legislature. Because in 2014 there was an unsuccessful attempt to hold a referendum on the same day as the parliamentary elections, the Democrats had to change the legislation so that their initiative was possible.

As Ziarul de Gardă informs, the questions that citizens will have to answer at the referendum are:

Do you agree with the reduction of the number of members of Parliament from 101 to 61? For / Against

Do you agree that people should be able to revoke (remove) the deputies from office if they do not properly fulfil their obligations? For / Against

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Economy

The Citizenship by Investment Program in Moldova – embracing great opportunities or risks?

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Dubai, November 5th – The Citizenship by Investment Program in the Republic of Moldova was officially launched at the 12th annual Global Residence and Citizenship Conference in Dubai. Since the very first moment when the legislative initiative was registered in the Parliament (December 2016), the law of citizenship by investment gained support, along with a lot of criticism. The government presented the program as an opportunity to attract new investments, whereas the opposition and some experts argued that granting citizenship to foreign investors involves major risks to the state security and could affect the liberalized visa regime with the EU, as reported by Ziarul de Gardă.

The law adoption outlines

The law of citizenship by investment was adopted and promulgated in record time without waiting the results of the anti-corruption expertise report published by the National Anticorruption Centre (NAC). One week after the final voting of the bill, the results of NAC report stated that “the promoted interests through the law of citizenship by investment are detrimental to the public interest, and imply major risks to the safety and security of the citizens and the state of the Republic of Moldova, , in the context of the emigration crisis in EU and the global terrorism threat.”

In March 2018, the Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure (MEI) has published a decision to amend the Regulation on Acquisition of Citizenship by Investment. According to the Transparency International Moldova experts,  the changes to the selection procedure of candidates for granting citizenship were made without public debates and a preliminary notification. The procedure was simplified by omitting the governmental institutions from the examination process.

A series of law amendments came next, enabling the persons who would obtain the Moldovan citizenship by investment to be exempted from the obligation to know the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova and to speak the Romanian language. Moreover, the name and other personal data of the candidates would be kept in secret, only the applicant file number being published.

The ex-president of the Parliamentary Commission for national security, defence and public order, Roman Boţan, qualified the amendments as doubtful. “It’s strange that the names of the candidates for granting the Moldovan citizenship by investment is concealed. It is plausible that such investments could come from fraud, and premises of decriminalizing illegal assets could be created,” declared Boţan.

Vlad Ţurcanu, a political commentator and a former presidential adviser, mentioned that the relationship Moldova – EU could be negatively affected in the light of a non-transparent citizenship granting process. Furthermore, such problematic future citizens could create crises which would be very hard to be managed by the Moldovan institutions.

In July 2018, MEI signed a partnership contract with the Moldovan Investment Company (MIC) Holding and with Henley & Partners Government Services Ltd. The stated scope of the contract was the development, implementation and international promotion of the Citizenship by Investment Program. The official MIC Holding website presents neither the name of the founding persons or companies nor the contact address of the holding.

MEI signing the partnership contract with the MIC Holding| Source: mei.gov.md

The Henley & Partners Government Services Ltd appears in an investigation article written by The Guardian that presents the company as doing business with ‘golden’ passports.  “For a few hundred thousand dollars, the right passport, from the right place, can get its owner into almost any country,” is stated in the article. The company was involved in the Maltese program of citizenship by investments and was accused of intimidating the investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. The journalist examined the scheme of offering the Maltese citizenship but was assassinated in October 2017.

The Henley & Partners’ perspective

In an interview for Newsmaker, the president of Henley & Partners, Christian Kälin and the Group Public Relations Director at Henley & Partners, Paddy Blewer talked about the candidate selection process of Moldovan citizenship granting and the benefits of the program.

First, it is important to mention that the Henley & Partners company, as a part of the MIC Holding, is responsible for the consultancy and the strategy implementation for the Moldovan Citizenship by Investment Program.

When asked about the possible applicants for the Citizenship by Investment Program, Christian Kälin clarified that they would be wealthy people that want to enlarge their possibilities of traveling and moving around the world.

“It is not about a Russian oligarch with lots of money and relationships in the political world. It is more about an UAE citizen who is not sure he wants to stay in his country in the next 15 years or an American citizen that can’t enter an Arabic country using his American passport and needs the second citizenship for security reasons.”

According to Kälin, the applicants would be interested in being protected and moving around, not tax evasion. He admitted that among the beneficiaries of the program could be not well-intended people: “It’s like in the bank. There are thousands of clients and among them there could be 5,7,10 delinquents. Still, that’s not a reason for the bank to cease its activity.”

“The most important benefit for a country that implements a program of citizenship by investment is the possibility to attract new investments,” as Paddy Blewer stated. In the case of the Republic of Moldova there is a possibility, at the moment, to invest in the Public Investment Fund. The law of citizenship by investment stipulates for now only the opportunity of real estate investments, according to Christian Kälin. He also added that the real estate sector is a key one in the economy of any country and that most programs of granting citizenship in return for investment provide such a component. “Real estate investments have a considerable positive effect on the economy of a country. They increase the number of transactions and develop the construction industry. The real estate sector has many intersections with other sectors of the economy. Thus, it will be a driver of job creation,” said Kälin.

According to the officials’ declarations at the Moldova Business Week of this year, the industries that should have priority when it comes to investments in Moldova are the tourism and information technologies sectors. Also, the automotive and manufacturing industries need the government’s support in order to be developed as the country’s strategical sectors.

The expert’s perspective

The expert and activist Sergiu Tofilat explained for Moldova.org several important aspects regarding the law of citizenship by investment. First, “some European countries are trying to attract investment by selling citizenship. Such programs are interesting for wealthy people who want to be able to travel visa-free in the EU and the US, who would like to easily open bank accounts in western banks,” said Tofilat. He highlighted the serious issues in verifying the source of the ‘invested’ money for acquiring citizenship, but also national security issues when different criminals or terrorists get foreign citizenship.

In case of the Republic of Moldova, “there are problems related to politically subordinate justice, labour shortages, the lack of predictability of public policies as when the government changes the law, and this affects the business environment that can’t plan its activity for at least 3-5 years,” as Tofilat mentioned. Taking into consideration these circumstances, “the Citizenship by Investment program raises suspicions of money laundering, especially since nothing of the stolen billion has been recovered,” stated Tofilat. He indicated that the program in question must be analysed together with the so-called tax amnesty law, which allows the legalization of any dirty money for a 6% tax. “As a result, the beneficiaries of the bank fraud can decriminalize their money through certain foreign citizens who will receive citizenship by granting loans to the Moldovan Government, after which the new Moldovan citizens will benefit from the tax amnesty,” explained Tofilat.

“The authorities stated that the objective of the citizenship program is to attract foreign investments in Moldova. It is absurd to believe that foreign investors queue up for investing their money in Moldova and that getting citizenship is the biggest obstacle for them.”

According to the Tofilat’s opinion, “a special attention should be paid to the dangerous similarities of the Moldovan program with the programs in Hungary and Malta.” Just as in the case of Hungary, the names of those who will receive the citizenship of the Republic of Moldova will be classified under the pretext of protecting their personal data.

An international inquiry from September 2018 revealed that especially Russian officials are interested in receiving the Hungarian citizenship for being able to travel without any visa and to leave Russia in case they need it.  “It’s the case of Russian deputies, heads of state-owned enterprises, and even Serghei Naryshkin’s family, the head of the Russian espionage service, who received the citizenship of Hungary. This happened despite the fact that some officials appear on international sanctions lists,” specified Tofilat.

Featured image source: anticoruptie.md

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