The process of selecting the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Moldova is ongoing, as well as the reform of judiciary. It seems that in a short time Moldova will have a new head of the General Prosecutor’s Office (GPO). However, the impression that the same old methods based on politicised decisions, violation of the legal regime of conflict of interests, opacity and impartiality is still there.
A while ago, the contest for selecting the Prosecutor General became the apple of discord within the previous coalition government (formed of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova -PSRM – and the political bloc ACUM), after former Minister of Justice Olesea Stamate issued an order of cancelling the results of the contest for the position of Prosecutor General. The former minister declared that the contest was vitiated due to the lack of enough information about the candidates and the impartiality of one member of the Commission in charge with the evaluation.
In a snowball effect, the Government assumed the responsibility for amending the Law on Prosecutor’s Office, so that the prime minister would have been responsible for pre-selecting the candidates for the position of Prosecutor General and submitting the list of candidates to the Superior Council of Prosecutors (SCP), while the existing legal provisions stipulate that the pre-selection is done by a Commission of Ministry of Justice. The socialists (PSRM) was totally against such an amendment. As a result, the coalition fell and the Government was dismissed by a no-confidence vote adopted by the Parliament.
The old contest is the new contest
The same list of four selected candidates for the position of Prosecutor General was transmitted to the SCP by the decision of the new Minister of Justice, Fadei Nagacevschi, despite all allegations made by the previous Minister of Justice.
On November 28th, the interviews for the position of Prosecutor General contest took place. Subsequently, the members of the SCP have to evaluate the results and appoint a winner, submitting the candidacy to the president of the Republic of Moldova, who has to decide whether to sign the appointment decree or not.
According to the regulation, the SCP has to publish the average of the total score obtained by each candidate on its official web page within 24 hours from the end of the interview. This time though, it was decided (internally) that only the average total score for each candidate will be made public, as during the last evaluations, the score given by each member of the Commission was made public and, as a consequence, the former Minister Stamati refused to submit the list of candidates to the SCP.
Minister of Justice Fadei Nagacevschi declared that “There are elements of privacy. Not everything needs to be made transparent.“ This time, the new Minister of Justice wanted to make sure that the contest would not be suspended and the list of candidates would be passed on.
Doubts from inside
Eduard Bulat, a former candidates for the position of Prosecutor General who also holds the office of the deputy of Prosecutor General, filed a lawsuit for violation of the legal regime of conflict of interest and lack of transparency against the Ministry of Justice, challenging the way the contest for the pre-selection of the head of the General Prosecutor’s Office candidates was conducted, as well as the results of this contest.
“One of the issues is regarding the absolute nullity of the act issued by the Commission, determined by the violation of the legal regime of conflict of interests, because one of the candidates was in certain relations with one of the members of the Commission. […] There was a margin of subjectivity left for the members of the Commission who evaluated the candidates according to criteria I am not aware of,” said Eduard Bulat.
The Chisinau Court rejected the application submitted by Eduard Bulat, mentioning that there are not enough reasonable suspicions, sufficient and relevant reasons that would justify the suspension of the administrative act until its legality is verified in the judicial proceedings.
There are still four candidates selected by the Commission of the Ministry of Justice out of whom the Prosecutor General could be appointed.
One of them is Alexandr Stoianoglo who was also a deputy speaker of the Parliament, being elected on the lists of the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM). In July 2019, after Vladimir Plahotniuc’s resignation from the DPM leadership, Stoianoglo’s name was mentioned among the potential future leaders of DPM.
Vladislav Gribincea is another candidate who was the president of the Centre for Legal Resources of Moldova (CLRM). He didn’t hold any office, but has been involved as an expert in the elaboration of the Strategy for the Reform of the Judiciary for the years 2011-2016. The candidate has been a loyal donor of the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) for the last three years.
Veaceslav Soltan is a prosecutor at the General Prosecutor’s Office, being also the head of the Information Technologies and Fight Against Cyber Crimes Department within the General Prosecutor’s Office.
And the last candidate is Oleg Crâșmaru who is a senior criminal prosecution officer at the National Anti-corruption Centre (NAC), previously working at the Customs Service, being head of the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and head of the Special Cases Section.
More information about the candidates here.
(Update) The new Prosecutor General
The SCP already selected one candidate out of 4 proposed and submitted the candidacy to the Head of State for signing the appointing decree. Alexandr Stoianoglo, the candidate that had previously a DPM affiliation, was announced as the candidate with the highest average score.
President Igor Dodon signed the decree. The new Prosecutor General has already been presented to the General Prosecutor’s Office. Everything happened in less than 24 hours since the interviews with candidates were conducted.
“The appointment of the Prosecutor General is a long awaited moment, in order to overcome the deadlock of the General Prosecutor’s Office. I reiterate that, nowadays, the Republic of Moldova cannot afford to maintain a key institution in a semi-functional regime,” declared Igor Dodon.
What is the Moldovans’ budget share spent on food? Comparative figures
While most of the European countries’ population spend not more than a quarter of their minimum wage on food, Moldovan people allocate 50,1% of it on food expenditures, estimated a study conducted by Picodi.com.
The analysts compared food prices with the minimum wage, by creating a ‘shopping cart’, which included eight basic products designated to cover the daily nutritional needs of an adult: bread, milk, eggs, rice, cheese, meat, fruit and vegetables.
The total estimated value of the included products was 1034 lei, representing 50.1% of the net minimum wage in Moldova – 113 euros. In comparison with Moldova, the lowest minimum wages in the EU countries are in Bulgaria and Romania – 242 euros and 282 euros respectively, Bulgarians and Romanians spending 23,4% and 29,5% of their minimum wage value on food. At the same time, such countries as Luxembourg and Ireland have settled their minimum wage level among the highest in the EU – 1796 euros and 1574 euros per month respectively, the food expenditures in these countries reaching only 9,5% and 7,3% of the minimum countries’ budget.
According to the national statistics of Moldova, provided by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the monthly average wage earning in 2018 was 5141.9 lei (about 250 euros at that moment), that being 12% more than in 2017. Also, the consumer price index (CPI) for food products amounted 107.5% in December 2019, as compared to December 2018, while in December 2018 the CPI marked 100.9%, as compared to December 2017.
The same source shows that the average monthly expenditure budget of the population of the Republic of Moldova in 2018 was on average 2407.9 lei per person (117 euros), increasing by 7.0% compared to the previous year. In real terms (with the adjustment to the consumer price index) the population spent on average 3.9% more in 2018 compared to 2017.
The national statistics prove the same thing: most of the Moldovans’ expenses are designated for food purchasing – 43.8%, being followed by the maintenance of the house expenses – 18.2% of the total consumption expenses, clothing and footwear – 10.7%, health services – 5.1%, communications – 4.6%, transportation – 4.0%, housing – 3.8% and education – 0.5%.
In addition, almost 40% of the population of the Republic of Moldova said that their income is only enough for their basic needs, while 24,3% said that the money they earn are not even enough for the basic needs they have, as a survey conducted by the Sociologists and Demographers Association displayed. The biggest concerns of Moldovans are poverty (25,8%), unemployment (23,1%), migration (21,3%) and corruption (19,2%).
Former head of the Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office is under arrest
Viorel Morari, former head of the Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office, was detained for a period of 20 days, in addition to initial 72 hours. A criminal case related to forgery of administrative documents and abuse of power was filed, on December 26, against him, based on notification documents registered with the General Prosecutor’s Office, as it is announced in a press release of the General Prosecutor’s Office.
On January 10, 2020, Viorel Morari was recognised as a suspect in the criminal investigation, he was detained and was to be involved in hearings related to the case.
” Viorel Morari is suspected that, in March 2017, he received from Vladimir Plahotniuc a complaint that was registered against the legal requirements, filing a criminal case and subsequently criminal prosecution, and falsifying several procedural documents within the criminal case. All of these actions were performed to protect the interests of his own and those of his complainant, the latter being involved as a suspect in a criminal case regarding the bank fraud, as well as obstructing the fast, complete and objective investigation of this criminal case,” it is mentioned in the press release.
In the criminal prosecution, Viorel Morari did not admit the commission of the crimes he is suspected of and, at this stage, does not cooperate with the investigation.
Morari was temporarily removed from office, at the beginning of December, during an internal control of prosecutors initiated by the new Prosecutor General Alexandru Stoianoglo. The decision to perform the controls was issued after Viorel Morari’s announcement of resuming the investigation into the Russian financing of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova.
Former head of the Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office told journalists that he does not exclude that the investigation would be related to the case on financing the socialists. Morari does not exclude that the general prosecutor, Alexandr Stoianoglo, would be connected to President Igor Dodon, and that he would like to see him detained, taking into account certain information Morari knows.
In a public message, head of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Moldova, Peter Michalko, stated that the EU institutions closely monitor what happens in prosecution in Moldova.
We are watching very closely what is happening in prosecution in Moldova. During last months, the anti-corruption…
Moldova in the last decade// the most prominent political fiascoes the country experienced
The decisions taken by the Constitutional Court, the expulsion of Turkish teachers, the adoption of the mixed electoral system, the president removed from office “for 5 minutes”, the lack of Government or the doubled Government – there were so many failures in the Moldovan politics in the last 10 years, that it’s hard to count them.
During the last ten years, the citizens of the country have witnessed many changes of the political and state institutions. Moldova.org selected the most relevant events. Here is where we can remember the saying “Every nation has the leaders it deserves.”
1 Decisions of the Constitutional Court from 7 to 9 June 2019
The Constitutional Court of Moldova (CC) announced, on June 7, that the deadline for the Parliament, which was elected on February 24 and validated on March 9, to appoint the new Government expired. The CC calculated that the constitutional term of “three months” provided for the formation of the Government actually means “90 days” and that it expired on June 7, not on June 9. The next day, the political bloc ACUM and the PSRM signed a temporary agreement for the formation of a majority government, Zinaida Greceanii being voted the president of the Parliament and Maia Sandu being appointed the head of the Government.
Immediately thereafter, the CC declared all the laws and decisions adopted by the new Parliament as unconstitutional. On June 9, the Constitutional Court decided to remove President Igor Dodon from office and appointed Pavel Filip as the interim president. After the Democratic Party announced its power withdrawal, on June 15, the CC cancelled its own previously taken decisions.
The Venice Commission published an opinion, stating that the CC violated its own procedures when taking the respective decisions, but also the principle of impartiality towards the political parties. The Commission recalled that the Court’s role is to be equidistant and to act as an impartial arbitrator in the event of a confrontation between political parties.
2 The period of two Governments
Between June 8-15, 2019, the Republic of Moldova had two Governments – the Government appointed by the newly formed majority government, led by Maia Sandu and the previous Government who still remained in power, according to the decision of the CC. Pavel Filip, the so-called interim president, announced the dissolution of the Parliament and the date of future snap elections.
The newly elected Parliament had its first session in the dark, as the technical employees of the building did not come to work that day. The democrats stated that they did’t recognise the new Government and didn’t intend to give up the power. The democrats’ leader Vladimir Plahotniuc accused the socialists of trying to usurp power. A week later, the Democratic Party decided to give up the power in favour of the Government appointed by the ACUM and socialists’ majority.
3 Clandestine interceptions’ scandal
A RISE Moldova investigation has discovered an entire operation of intercepting and chasing the political opponents of the democratic government, which has been carried out in recent years. The operation was carried out under cover of three criminal cases, filed because of inconvenient Facebook messages or statements at press conferences. As a result, it was established that the activities of 52 people, including politicians, representatives of civil society, organisations representatives and journalists, were investigated by prosecutors and police officers.
After coming to power, the ACUM representatives declared that the number of people chased by the former government was much higher. In addition to intercepting phone calls, some of them have also been monitored, as microphones and video cameras were installed in their houses. President Igor Dodon claimed that, in 2018, there were 10 thousand interceptions, out of which 600 at the request of the Information and Security Service (ISS), and 3 300 interception in 2019, out of which 200 were initiated at the request of ISS. Most interceptions were initiated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). Based on the interception scandal, criminal cases were filed against four MIA employees, three prosecutors and four judges.
4 Camouflaged expulsion of Turkish teachers
On September 6, 2018, seven Turkish citizens who were teachers at Horizon High School, were removed from their homes by employees of the ISS and taken in an unknown direction. The state institutions declared the action as “expulsion”, saying that the Turkish nationals were suspected of links with an Islamist group. They have been declared undesirable by the competent bodies and expelled from the territory of the Republic of Moldova.
The Turkish citizens were taken to Turkey by a charter plane and were sentenced to years of imprisonment. Immediately after the expulsion operation, European officials asked the Moldovan authorities “to comply with the rule of law and all judicial procedures” in this case. On June 11, 2019, the European Court of Human Rights issued a conclusion stating that Moldova violated the rights of Turkish citizens and required the government to pay 25 thousand euros for each of the Turkish citizens, whose rights were violated.
5 Cancellation of Andrei Nastase mayoral mandate
In June 2018, the Chișinău District Court cancelled the results of the snap local elections for the mayoral seat of the capital city. The elections were won by the Dignity and Truth Platform Party leader, Andrei Năstase. His mandate was not validated on the grounds that he would have campaigned on social media on the day before elections. Andrei Năstase addressed voters on Facebook and advised them to participate in the vote.
The decision was heavily criticised by local experts, ambassadors and representatives of international forums. The decision remained in force and after being challenged in the higher courts. After one year and three months, the mandate of Andrei Năstase was validated. By that moment other local elections were organised and his rival, socialist Ion Ceban won the mayor seat.
6 The Citizenship by Investments Law
Also in 2018, the Parliament adopted the law on granting citizenship by investments – a mechanism by which foreign citizens could obtain citizenship of the Republic of Moldova. “The Law on Citizenship by Investments of the Republic of Moldova is one of the projects that created favourable conditions for international money laundering,” Transparency International-Moldova states in a report. Such models for granting citizenship are criticized by European officials, and some countries have already given up these programs. In the summer of 2019, the Government instituted a moratorium on this law for a period of four months.
7 The president removed from power “for 5 minutes”
In 2017, the Constitutional Court decided that the president’s refusal to carry out his constitutional duties in appointing a minister represented “a temporary impossibility to exercise his duties” and justified assigning the president of the Parliament or the prime minister as the interim head of state. In other words, the CC decided that the president Igor Dodon had no veto in appointing a minister, and the signature of the head of state on the confirmation decree is only a formal one.
In the period of 2017 to 2018, Igor Dodon was temporarily removed from office for five times, and the respective decrees were signed by the President of the Parliament Andrian Candu. The removal for “five minutes” became a joke of the representatives of civil society and experts who stated that Igor Dodon may claim to be included in the Guinness Book of Records. In December 2018, Igor Dodon stated that he had called for protest in case another removal from power would have taken place.
8 The adoption of the mixed electoral system
In the summer of 2017, the Parliament adopted the law on the mixed voting system. It provided that 50 deputies would be elected on party lists, and 51 – directly by citizens, in single-seat constituencies. The mixed voting system was adopted by the socialists, democrats and popular-Europeans and has been criticised by the Venice Commission, the European Union, the United States and by the political opposition.
After the formation of the new majority government, the Parliament adopted, in the summer of 2019, the return to the proportional representation system, cancelling the mixed voting system.
9 The appointment of the Government led by Pavel Filip
On January 20, 2016, the Parliament where the democrats held the majority, granted a vote of confidence to the candidate Pavel Filip and his Cabinet of Ministers. At that time, neither the draft Government activity program, nor the list of proposed Government members had been made public. The new Government was voted in a session that lasted about 30 minutes, in which the designated PM held a speech for 8 minutes and, in another 2 minutes, presented the Executive’s list. The discussions and debates were omitted.
Moreover, the procedure for taking the oath by the members of the Government also took place on January 20, secretly, at midnight. Thousands of protesters surrounded Parliament, calling for snap parliamentary elections. Subsequently, the protesters entered the Parliament building forcefully, and altercations took place.
10 Ilan Șor became the mayor of Orhei
Being criminally investigated in the “Theft of the century” case and being arrested at home, on June 14, 2015, Ilan Shor won the mayoral elections with 61.97% of the votes. Political analysts described his involvement in politics as an intention to escape house detention.
In 2017, he was sentenced by the first court to 7 and a half years in prison. Despite the accusations, Ilan Șor pleaded not guilty and continued his political activity . Moreover, he also obtained a mandate as a member of the Parliament. In 2019, he received the certificate of integrity to run for parliamentary elections. Later on, Ilan Şor left the country despite the court ban, after the democrats’ power withdrawal.
11 The theft of the century
In 2014, the Republic of Moldova became the scene of an international scandal, following a fraudulent scheme of 1 billion withdrawal from 3 saving banks from Moldova. To save the situation, two governments (led by Iurie Leancă and Chiril Gaburici) took decisions to grant state guarantees for covering the hole in the banking system. To investigate the case, Kroll company was invited.
At the initiative of the political bloc ACUM, a new parliamentary commission was created in order to investigate the banking fraud. It’s conclusions were that the amount of damage could be much higher than initially stated and that the main beneficiaries of the bank robbery were the Vladimir Plahotniuc, Ilan Șor and Vladimir Filat groups.
12 The stolen billion has to be paid by Moldovan citizens in the next 21 years
In 2016, the Government led by Pavel Filip decided to convert the emergency loans, amounting to 13.5 billion Moldovan lei, transferred by the National Bank of Moldova to three affected by the robbery banks, into state debt. Therefore, the citizens of Moldova would have to return in the next 25 years about 21 billion Moldovan lei (including the interest for the emergency loans). It was calculated that every child born in the Republic of Moldova would owe the state 4000 lei (182 euros) from the first day of his life.
13 No president, for almost three years
In 2009, when the former head of state Vladimir Voronin announced his resignation, the Parliament tried twice, but without success, to elect the democratic leader Marian Lupu to this position. In November 2010, due to Parliament’s inability to elect the head of state, snap parliamentary elections were held again. Finally, in March 2012 the candidacy of the former president of the Superior Council of Magistracy, Nicolae Timofti, was voted to be the president. Therefore, the constitutional crisis lasted for about two and a half years (from September 2009 to March 2012).
This text is a translation. The original article can be found here.
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