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Vlad Plahotniuc investigated in Romania for organized crime, blackmailing, money laundering and fraud

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The Democrat leader and oligarch, Vlad Plahotniuc, is reportedly investigated by Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism based on the testimony delivered by the Moldovan businessman Veaceslav Platon in August 2016.

Buying shares together in Victoriabank and now-inexistent Banca de Economii

According to the leaked testimony and the corresponding prosecution order, Platon accused Plahotniuc of forcing him to participate in the acquisition of shares of Victoriabank, Banca de Economii, SA Asito, Victoria Asigurări, SA Alfa Engineering. Moreover, Plahotniuc is said to have influenced the National Bank of Moldova to block one major shareholder of Victoriabank that allowed the selling of his shares later on the market with a lower price. The Democrat oligarch allegedly got the shares in his possession through proxies like the Parliament speaker Andrian Candu, his close partner Sergey Yaralov, Vladimir Andronache and other persons from the circle of the Democratic Party of Moldova.

Platon, condemned in Moldova to 18 years of prison for frauds and money laundering, complained to the Romanian prosecutors that his multiple letters of complaints and demands were ignored by the National Bank and the investigation organs in Moldova, presumably under Vlad Plahotniuc’s influence.

Plahotniuc’s three citizenships and changing identities

In his confession, Veaceslav Platon, known also as Kobalev, underlined that Plahotniuc used several identities in the Republic of Moldova (Vladimir Plahotniuc), Romania (Vlad Plahotniuc, Vlad Ulinici), and the Russian Federation (Vladimir Plahotniuc). The oligarch was and probably is still a citizen of all three states.

Based on Platon’s statements, Romanian Prosecutor Raluca Negulescu launched a penal investigation on the fact of constituting an organized crime group, blackmailing, fraud and money laundering. The investigation is possible because Plahotniuc is a Romanian citizen. The order of launching penal investigation against Vlad Plahotniuc dates back to 17 April 2017.

Platon’s testimony was submitted on 3 August 2016, when Plahotniuc’s former business partner was under arrest in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism has not issued a statement on the leaks yet.

What did Platon do (according to the Moldovan prosecution system)?

Veaceslav Platon was accused of benefiting from high-risk loans from the former Banca de Economii in the value of 800 million lei: 130 million lei, 12 million USD and 5 million euros. He was arrested by the SBU of Ukraine on July 25th. Businessman Veaceslav Platon was extradited from Ukraine to Moldova on August 29th, 2016 with a charter flight, for which the Moldovan Interior Ministry claimed to have paid only 1690 US dollars. Some say that the half-legal extradition was personally ordered by the Democrat leader and oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc. Anticorupție found that the charter flight used for the extradition cost around 15 thousand US dollars.

Who is Vlad Plahotniuc, de facto?

Despite the fact he holds no governmental position, Vlad Plahotniuc is known for his control over the Government, judiciary branch, prosecution system and the anti-corruption bodies through his proxy Democratic Party, vassal-parties and particular persons in the top of management of Moldovan state institutions. Vlad Plahotniuc is often called the one and only oligarch left in Moldova, the grey eminence or the puppeteer of Moldovan politics. He was officially elected as the leader of the Democratic Party at the 8th Congress in December 2016.

Important

Media censorship during state of emergency: no personal opinions, no information that is not confirmed by state officials

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In the context of state of emergency declared on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, the president of the Audiovisual Council (AC) of the Republic of Moldova, Dragoș Vicol, issued, on March 24, a provision through which, media outlets from all over the country are obliged to present only the official position of the competent public authorities. Additionally, journalists are not allowed to express their own opinion when reflecting the subjects that concern the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Under the conditions of state of emergency on the territory of Moldova, the official position of the competent public authorities (World Health Organization, the National Extraordinary Public Health Commission, the Government of the Republic of Moldova, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection) will be presented, those being more knowledgeable and more competent institutions regarding this matter,” is mentioned in the provision published on the AC official page.

In its attempt to fight fake news, sensationalism and infodemic situations characterised by overabundance of information that can create confusion, panic and insecurity, the AC risks to violate freedom of speech, opinated Petru Macovei, the executive director of the Independent Press Association (IPA) cited by ZdG.

These provisions are qualified by Macovei as an abuse in the field of audiovisual media services. “These provisions limit the right of journalists to issue value judgements related to the authorities’ efficiency,” stated Petru Macovei.

This is what the AC provides exactly: “During the period of emergency, the presenters / moderators / editors will unilaterally renounce the unannounced statement and favouring of both their own opinion and free formation of arbitrary opinions when reflecting the topics concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.”

At the same time, the regulatory institution affirmed that “the only reliable, truthful, impartial and balanced source of information is that from competent public authorities in the country and abroad.”

During the broadcasts made on the subject COVID-19, the representatives of the authorities should be invited, or at least they should be able to talk over the phone, as well as to present video or audio recordings with the position of a public authority, stated the president of AC for TV8.

In his opinion, everybody should trust the official sources. “Why do you doubt it? Now it is not the proper moment for labelling and considering that someone is hiding the information. I cannot believe that there are tendencies for certain state authorities to hide information,” Dragoș Vicol claimed.

However, experts say it is more about forbidding inconvenient statements and controlling the information flow.

“This decision needs to be reconsidered by the AC because, in its current form, it contains very clear elements of censorship. […] It is important to warn the European Commission about the abuses that occur in the Republic of Moldova under the pretext of state of emergency,” Petru Macovei highlighted.

“Such decisions are counter-productive when referring to the transparency of the authorities and the communication to the public to prevent the spread of the virus and recover the social-economic situation,” mentioned political analyst Dionis Cenușă, arguing that the AC provision still covers important issues related to a correct way of communicating information and dealing with the phenomenon of fake news.

Photo: Wendy Kenigsberg |University Photography

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Politics

Crisis measures? Socialists and democrats formed a coalition government

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The Socialist Party of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) and the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM) have signed an agreement agreement today, establishing a coalition government within the newly formed Social-Democratic Platform for Moldova“We are witnessing a historical moment today. After several discussions and negotiations, we found common ground between PSRM and DPM to form a coalition and to create an absolutely necessary majority government,” said the PSRM leader Zinaida Greceanîi during a press release.

See also: A new (old) coalition government? DPM and PSRM have entered into negotiations

Socialists committed to support the Government in creating new jobs, attracting investments, carrying out national programs regarding public roads, street lighting, extension of the natural gas network,  as well as increasing salaries and pensions. Democrats, in response, promised to ensure the implementation of the Association Agreement, maintain territorial integrity, energy security, continue the strategic partnership with the United States and maintain good relations with the neighbouring countries. “I assure you that we will keep our word,” said Pavel Filip, the democrats’ leader.

In less than an hour since the announcement of the creation of the new coalition government, five democrats took the oath, replacing their socialist colleagues previously holding the following offices: Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration, Defence Minister, Minister of Education, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Economy.

Zinaida Greceanii and Pavel Filip said that this coalition would provide stability to the Government in the current complicated epidemiological period. “Starting today, we have a professional, technocratic Government, but with the solid support of 58 members of the Parliament […] I am firmly convinced that this solid majority will create additional premises to overcome this challenge. People are waiting for results from the Government, the Parliament and each minister separately,” said Igor Dodon.

Prime Minister Ion Chicu said that the members of the Government will continue to work as a team. “We have only one party – the citizens’ party of the Republic of Moldova, for which we work. […] We will overcome this crisis, we will come out of it even stronger, and more united as a society, as a Government and a Parliament,” declared Chicu.

Even though the authorities announced Code Red of alert at national level regarding the risk of infection with COVID-19 on Friday, the measure of establishing the state of emergency throughout the country was proposed to the Parliament only today, after the new parliamentary elections were held in one Moldovan district on Sunday and the PSRM-DPM coalition was formed on Monday.

See also: Is COVID-19 taken seriously? Government’s actions and people’s behaviour

Political analyst Ion Tăbîrţă believes that establishing the state of emergency in the country has been deliberately delayed, as ZdG reported. “If the state of emergency had been adopted a few days before, then neither the elections in Hâncești, nor these governmental changes would have been possible. That is why our authorities have acted in such a way,” argued Tăbîrţă.

The analyst claimed that, the coalition has the stake in assuring the socialists that Igor Dodon would get another mandate, and granting the democrats return to the government and power consolidation of the party.

Photo: cotidianul.md

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Important

Why coronavirus could become a pandemic in Moldova?

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These days, the first confirmed case of coronavirus was recorded in Moldova. It is a Moldovan woman who was living in Italy, was hospitalised with symptoms there, but decided to escape the medical care and come to her homeland by plane. Later on, it was established that this woman was already infected with coronavirus when stepped into the plane, putting at risk her, other passengers and crew’s health.

It is not known yet whether her situation raised questions at the airport, as she was already seriously ill, having symptoms like shortness of breath, cough etc. Somehow, she fled the custom control and managed to enter the plane. During the flight, her situation got worse and an ambulance took her directly from the Chișinău airport through a separate corridor. Moldovan doctors found that her condition was severe: bilateral pneumonia, with acute respiratory failure, fever, cough and general weakness.

But that’s only one case, how could it advance towards a pandemic?

It may sound like a screenplay from a movie, in reality about 2 thousand people, who entered Moldova in the last week wrongly indicated the information about the country and region of their arrival, as well as their address in Moldova when filling in the epidemiological records at the border. That means 20% of the total records. People often indicated wrong addresses, so they cannot be monitored by family doctors, as the portal sanatateinfo informed.

Border police is the one who must inform and enforce the process of filling in the epidemiological records. However, the law does not provide for any sanctions for non-observance of measures to prevent or combat contagious diseases and people are too irresponsible to care about public health.

In 2020, the Republic of Moldova allocated an amount equal to 4.41% of its GDP for health sector, according to a study conducted by IDIS Viitorul. The country recorded the worst performance in Europe regarding health expenditure. In 2020, about 195 euros per inhabitant is spent on health, which is 14 times less than the European average.

In fact, countries that are less well placed, that have less fiscal space or less health spending, are less resilient and more vulnerable to such global health pandemics as coronavirus, experts said.

All passengers of the flight that brought home the first coronavirus infected patient were identified and contacted by representatives of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection. They were asked to stay in quarantine for 14 days in order to monitor their health. Family doctors will visit them at home and they are required to measure their fever three times a day and observe other symptoms of the disease.

Former Minister of Health, Ala Nemerenco, sent a message to the representatives of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection, after the first case of coronavirus in the Republic of Moldova was confirmed.

“All passengers and the crew of the Milan – Chișinău flight must be urgently registered, consulted and monitored, and some of them must be introduced, for their own sake, to the hospital quarantine. It depends on the organisation of medical services whether this bomb will be defused or not.”

Still, all passengers were sent home. They already saw their relatives, shook their hands, gave them hugs and kissed them. Family doctors had visited them and then consulted other patients as well.

Symptoms of COVID-19 usually appear after five days on average, but the incubation period may be as short as two days to as long as 14 days, said Harvard Health Publishing specialists. However, a person who is asymptomatic may be shedding the virus and could make others ill, whereas how often asymptomatic transmission is occurring is unclear.

In the meantime, Code Orange of alert was announced at national level regarding the risk of infection with COVID-19 in Moldova.

The government announced that, on Wednesday, a bill would be approved, providing for penalties application or even criminal prosecution of persons who provide incorrect data or who would be involved in the outbreak and spread of coronavirus in the Republic of Moldova. The limitations of passengers’ transit on the territory of the country through Chișinău International Airport was also discussed.

Only 7 people are officially suspected of being infected with coronavirus in Moldova at the moment. They have been tested and the results will be announced later.

Photo: dw.com

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