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Weekly Roundup: Kozak is back, EU Council concerned about Moldova, Shor threatens with a belt

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The Weekly Roundup is back after a two weeks break. Sorry about that, the world outside the window was more attractive to the editor that the news in Moldova.


Protests of the opposition continue: The pro-European extra-Parliamentary opposition parties, united under the ACUM Committee, continue their protests in Chișinău, asking for the validation of the Chișinău mayor election results and the reform of the electoral law for the Parliamentary elections which are expected to take place after 30 November this year, but before February 2019.


Protests against the opposition: Infamous banker, businessman, and Orhei mayor, Ilan Shor, gathered his supporters this week in front of the office of PAS party. Shor and his fellas condemned the declarations of the Liberal-Democrats and opposition leaders Maia Sandu and Andrei Năstase, who suggested Shor’s so-called “social shops” should be regarded as tools to launder the latter from the image of the “billion thief”.

Dionis Cenușa argues in an opinion piece that Shor’s protest is just an attempt to get public attention ahead of the Parliamentary elections and to hit the opposition leader Maia Sandu who criticized him for being the “architect of the billion theft”. His 80 (or so) social shops represent tools to use the poor, aged electorate in his penal and political cases.

Shor went further by threatening Sandu and Năstase with a belt in a Facebook video but also promising “lustration” to “every journalist” who “wrote bad things” about this protests. We can ignore the high price of the belt- Shor was and is known to be rich enough-, but the threatening part is how he promises to use the belt- by slapping Sandu’s and Năstase’s buttocks. Funny or not, it is true:

The media NGOs already condemned Shor’s threats.


Liberal Democrats ask the Constitutional Court to step in: The Liberal-Democratic caucus in the Moldovan Parliament and one Liberal, MP Lilian Carp, asked the Constitutional Court to give its opinion on whether courts can issue decisions on electoral frauds when there are no legal provisions on a specific type of frauds, and whether courts can annul election results if they are not asked to.

The complaint comes after Andrei Năstase’s election as Chișinău mayor was canceled based on a complaint of his opponent to consider three Facebook videos in which Năstase calls on the voters to go out and vote for whoever they want as a deviation from the law.


EU Foreign Affairs Ministers concerned about the situation in Moldova: The EU’s Foreign Affairs Council underlined the need to step up reforms in governance, justice, the fight against corruption, economic reform and the business environment in the six Eastern Partnership countries, reports IPN.

The foreign ministers underlined “the need to step up reforms in areas such as governance, justice, the fight against corruption, economic reform and the business environment”, especially in Moldova.


The new IRI survey is out and it reveals interesting trends: Support for EU membership is slightly increasing, Moldovans are unsatisfied with the pace of change in the country, Dodon’s rating is stagnating (it’s summer though, the President spends more time for trips than for crises of trust in governmental institutions), Democrats are not doing well in polls.

More details and pictures in our article:

IRI Survey: 46% of Moldovans would vote for joining the European Union, 36%- Eurasian Union


One finger thick asphalt:

150 meters of a road in the Varvareuca village in Moldova were paved with one finger asphalt layer. Locals reported that the asphalt can be taken out with the hand. The company in charge already promised to repair the road with its own money. The road reparation was part of the bigger project of the Moldovan Democrats on the village roads.


80/270: Moldova’s Parliament recently approved the agreement on the 80 million euros loan from the EBRD for the electricity interconnection with Romania. The project containing a BtB station in Vulcănești, a 400kV line between Vulcănești and Chișinău, the expansion of the station in Chișinău and the extension of the Vulcănești station to 400 kV.

The investment, partly covered by EIB, EBRD, WB loans and an EU grant, will cost 270 million euros and is expected to be recovered from the transport tariff.


1032,9 minutes: That’s how much time a truck spends on average at the most crowded and most used border checkpoints of Moldova, reads a “Moldova’s trade corridors assessment” report concluded by Nathan Associates and financed by the USAID.

The report shows that the 90% of Moldova’s goods exports rely on the road infrastructure and road transport.  Leușeni-Albița checkpoint at the Moldovan-Romanian border accounts for 23% of the total crossings by delivery trucks. Although recognizing Moldova’s favourable geographical position, the experts underlined that the country lacks transportation and logistics infrastructure that would foster the trade, especially through the Romanian border- where the biggest trade barriers are found. The average waiting time for trucks crossing from Moldova to Romania can be even 16 times longer than in other 23 EU-nonEU border crossings.

Number of trucks crossing the checkpoints

The key issues affecting Moldova’s trade corridors are reported to be: Poor and insufficient infrastructure, Trade facilitation and border delays, Asymmetrical information in markets and lack of information systems, Lack of affordable and sustainable financing.

The authors of the report recommend the following solutions for ensuring the development of Moldova’s trade corridors:

1. Improving the Logistics Sector’s Institutional Effectiveness
2. Ensuring Supportive Policies and Legislative and Regulatory Frameworks
3. Improving Trade Facilitation
4. Developing Efficient and Productive Infrastructure
5. Providing an Efficient Transport Logistics System
6. Facilitating Sustainable Financing
7. Logistics Sector Promotion

We obtained a copy of the report summary.


Rise of illiberal civil society in the former Soviet Union? 

A report of the UK-based Foreign Policy Centre shows a significant of the so-called “illiberal” civil society groups in countries like Moldova.

The pieces on Moldova reveal the groups of “illiberal” thinking:  the far right, conservative groups and the Church, but also the socially conservative (at least, publicly recognized) parties such as the Socialists’ Party.

The authors of the report recommend the respective authorities to:

  • Take urgent measures to tackle corruption and improve transparency;
  •  Investigate attacks on minorities and scrap any partnerships with nationalist groups involved;
  • Protect the ability of liberal civil society groups to operate freely without intimidation;
  • Disband any armed militias affiliated to political parties or extremist groups.

At the same time, the authors argue that the international community should:

  • Increase political pressure and sanctions on the activities of ostensible ‘pro-European’ or ‘liberal’
    allies whose corruption or malpractice brings such principles into disrepute;
  • Insist on action to tackle hate crimes and offer greater support and resources to do so if political
    willingness to act can be ensured;
  • Look for opportunities for diplomatic dialogue with the dominant religious institutions;
  • Continue to refine and improve ‘myth-busting’ and anti-propaganda responses;
  • Support efforts to improve survey and research data about illiberal civil society attitudes;
  • Work with liberal minded NGOs to  find new ways to engage the ‘movable middle’.

56: Moldova’s Security and Intelligence Service has identified 56 Moldovan citizens who had been or are working as mercenaries in Eastern Ukraine since the start of the conflict in 2014.


Kozak is back: Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak was earlier in the month appointed as the Russian

presidential special representative for developing trade and economic relations with Moldova.

“I hope that he [Kozak] – with his expertise – will be capable of promoting our cooperation substantially,” Putin told Dodon, as quoted by TASS.

Dmitry Kozak is known for his role as a special envoy to Moldova in early 2000s on the Transnistrian issue. Back in 2003, Kozak tried to conclude a memorandum that would define a political settlement to the Transnistrian conflict, a settlement including the federalization of Moldova, seen with high skepticism from Chișinău and the entire right bank.


ECtHR: Russia found guilty of violating rights to property, remedy of 1646 landowners and 3 companies in Transnistria, Moldova

ECtHR: Russia found guilty of violating rights to property, remedy of 1646 landowners and 3 companies in Transnistria, Moldova


ECtHR: Russia guilty of ill-treatment, poor detention conditions of 5 Moldova policemen in Transnistria

ECtHR: Russia guilty of ill-treatment, poor detention conditions of 5 Moldova policemen in Transnistria


“Neutral” number plates for Transnistrian cars: The Moldovan Parliament adopted in the first reading the law on the registration of Transnistrian cars in Moldova. Without paying an import tax, the Transnistrian residents will be able to travel internationally with the help of the so-called “neutral” number plates. They don’t look very neutral though:

Over and out!

https://gov.md/ro/content/reprezentantii-chisinaului-comisia-unificata-de-control-insista-pe-eliminare

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

Important

Debates at the European Parliament: “We have not seen progress from Moldova”

A report evaluating the implementation of the Association Agreement between the Republic of Moldova and the European Union was debated in the European Parliament on 13 November. According to the report, our country is opposed to fundamental values related to democratic standards, and MEPs would continue to call for the cessation of financial assistance until significant progress on democratic standards has been made.

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The European Union has invested over a billion euros in the last ten years alone in order to develop the Moldovan democracy and reforms, yet it always risks to be compromised.

The Moldovan authorities declared themselves pro-European though ceased almost irreversible to authoritarian reflexes: cancellation of the results of the mayoral elections, limitation of the freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, obstruction of the right to access to information, suspicious arrests of opposition activists. This way of governing is kicking our country further from the EU.

Here is an infographic created by cprmd, which shows how much was recovered from the $1 billion theft.

Panoul miliardului

#PANOULMILIARDULUIPentru că nu suntem satisfăcuți de calitatea informației prezentate de Ministerul Finantelor al Republicii Moldova în panoul lor, aici vă propunem un alt panou care, în opinia noastră, nu manipulează. Suntem în al patrulea an de investigații și cam atâtea active s-au recuperat până acum din furtul bancar. Tabelul prezentat de Ministerul Finanțelor, deși este numit ”recuperarea activelor fraudate”, oferă informație despre procesul de lichidare a celor trei bănci falimentate. Chiar dacă se înregistrează venituri din lichidarea băncilor prin vânzarea activelor fixe ale acestora, miliardul rămâne furat, furtul rămâne neinvestigat, iar activele furate – nerecuperate. În trecut am făcut un apel către Ministerul Finanțelor să corecteze informația prezentată (aici: http://bit.ly/2qtvuRE), iar incorectitudinea informației prezentate de Minister a fost demonstrată în repetate rânduri (de exemplu, aici: http://bit.ly/2qELNKH). Cu toate acestea, Ministerul insistă că panoul prezentat pe situl instituției nu reprezintă informație eronată. Este îngrijorător faptul că unele instituții oferă publicului informații ”oficiale”, dar false.

Geplaatst door CPR Moldova – Centrul de Politici și Reforme op Dinsdag 14 november 2017

According to European Commissioner Johannes Hahn, even though Moldova has made progress on an economic level, the European Union is worried about several issues, such as ensuring free elections, the independence of media institutions, the freedom of expression of civil society, and respect for the rule of law.

“In all working contexts with the Moldovan authorities I have drawn attention to the need to continue the reforms. We look forward to immediate urgent action to tackle bank fraud, the fight against high-level corruption and the need to ensure that the next parliamentary elections are done fairly and freely. Unfortunately, we have not seen progress from Moldova in order to respond to our concerns. The EU remains committed to the Republic of Moldova and is expecting the same level from Moldova. I would point out that the EU will continue to provide assistance to Moldovan citizens,” the European Commissioner said.

Moreover, Hahn declared that because of the lack of commitment from the Chisinau authorities, it is proposed to only support items that bring benefits directly to citizens.

“Sometimes I have the impression that people claim to be pro-European, pro-Western, but when it comes to facts, I don’t see how these European values are applied. We have to make decisions in the context in which almost all of our recommendations have not been respected,” concluded Johannes Hahn.

Reminder: In this report, the Committee of Foreign Affairs particularly emphasizes its concerns about:

1. Elections (!)

The electoral reform is not in line with the recommendations of the OCSE and the Venice Commission, the recent cancellation of local elections for the mayor of Chisinau on dubious motives, pressure on opposition leaders or local authorities, the financing of excessive and non-transparent parties.

2. The rule of law

There is a lack of independence of the judiciary, the influence of business interests and political leaders, limited progress in combating corruption – including through recent tax reforms that may increase the risk of money laundering – and prosecution of all those responsible for defrauding the $1 billion bank or large-scale money laundering, disproportionate criminal proceedings against political opponents, lawyers and / or their families, as well as human rights defenders, independent judges, journalists and critics of the Chisinau authorities.

3. The media and civil society

The media and advertising market is monopolized, independent news stories have weakened, the new audiovisual code has been implemented late, there have been attempts to limit the freedom of action and the discrediting of civil society representatives.

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An outline of the ‘Open Dialog’ scandal. PAS and DTPP in the gunsight of the Moldovan Parliament

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Yesterday, November 12th the second meeting of the parliamentary commission on the investigation concerning the Open Dialog Foundation took place. Initially, the representative of PAS (Party of Action and Solidarity) declared in a press release that Maia Sandu will go in the Parliament hearing in order to “make things clear and to end the lies spread in the so-called enquiry regarding the PAS funding sources.”

Maia Sandu and Andrei Nastase, the leaders of the electoral bloc “ACUM”, were waiting at the parliament entrance ready to enter along with the journalists, when they were announced that the commission would meet in a closed session and they are invited to the hearing one by one. Sandu and Nastase refused to participate, declaring it a farce. “There are no reasons for having the meeting in a closed session. We are not government workers. We don’t have any obligations to keep state secrets and they can’t discuss them with us”, mentioned Sandu. They organised a press conference right at the entrance of the Parliament. “There are two main goals of these closed meetings: first, discrediting PAS and DTPP (Dignity and Truth Platform Party), and the second, trying to remove our parties from the electoral campaign”, mentions Sandu during the press conference.

As official sources state, the main objective of the enquiry commission was to collect and analyse information, as well as to formulate recommendations, without any legal competences. Still, the president of the parliamentary commission – Igor Vremea, declared after the second hearing, that the leaders of PAS and DTPP were “obliged” by law to come at the second session, as the main scope was to hear their opinion on the information provided for the commission.

Background information

On October 4th, the Moldovan Parliament formed, at the initiative of DPM, an enquiry commission for elucidating the allegations of the Open Dialog Foundation and its founder’s – Ludmila Kozlowska, interference in the domestic affairs of the Republic of Moldova, as well as funding PAS and DTPP political parties.

The first official hearing was organised on November 2nd. It also was a meeting in closed session. From the very beginning, Maia Sandu asked to be summoned to a public hearing and refused to make statements to the committee in a closed session. According to the PAS leader, the closed sessions are “neither for revealing the truth by the Parliament, nor to inform people about what happened”. In response to that, Andrian Candu, the speaker of the Moldovan Parliament, declared that the Sandu’s request is an attempt to block the hearings, as she is aware that the analysed information is confidential.

Regarding the allegations that were made, Maia Sandu claimed that the only thing that was funded by the Open Dialog Foundation was a visit for an event in Brussels, having the European Parliament and the Open Dialog Foundation as the event’s organizers. Other than that, PAS never received any financial support from the Open Dialog Foundation.

Moreover, Ludmila Kozlovska denied in an interview for Jurnal TV that the Open Dialog Foundation has ever financed the opposition parties of Republic of Moldova. “It is a complete fabrication” she declared, “and it’s absurd that they consider me and my organisation a threat for Republic of Moldova”. She sees the act of organising a parliamentary commission as a desperate measure taken by DPM (Democratic Party of Moldova).

Open Dialog Foundation

The Open Dialog Foundation is involved at the moment in dealing with several cases of political prisoners from Russia, Republic of Moldova and Kazakhstan. After an analysis of the situation in Republic of Moldova, reports were sent to European Union institutions, and efforts were made on behalf of this institution for freezing the financial support from EU to Moldova. “In turn, Vladimir Plahotniuc started to denigrate the Open Dialog Foundation, this is how people had the opportunity to hear more often about it”, states Kozlovska.

What’s also important to be mentioned is that, according to the Newsmaker fact-check, the press release of the Parliament of Republic of Moldova contains several fake or misinterpreted information about Ludmila Kozlovska. For example, the press release text states that she was expatriated from Poland for being suspected of cooperation with Russian special forces. In reality, her entering in Belgium was banned on August 13, 2018 because Poland included her in the SIS (Schengen Information System) blacklist without stating any reason for that. About the so-called cooperation with the Russian special forces, wrote Marcin Rey, a polish blogger, and his article was mentioned as an “expert” source in the Moldovan Parliament press release.  Another fake information that was included in the press release and in the media, is that the Ukrainian Security Service blamed Ludmila Kozlovska in “betrayal of her homeland”, while she only appears as a witness in a court case.

Featured image source: zdg.md

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Moldova’s mass migration – the main trigger for the economic and demographic decline

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People leave Moldova every day. Nowadays, not only young people leave the country, but elder ones do it as well. It is also the case for Serafima Gherman – a former biology and chemistry teacher, who decided to leave her home country and to head for Milano, Italy.

Our colleagues from Moldova.org spent the day before she left at her place while she was preparing her luggage for leaving. She seems to be down in the mouth. So many years spent in this house…

When Serafima was young she dreamed to become an artist. She secretly applied at the musical college. Her voice was wonderful. When her father, who was a doctor, got to know, he gave her a good beating and told her that the big stages would handle it somehow without her. So, she studied at a technical college and graduated the Pedagogical University from Tiraspol being married with 2 children.  Together with her husband, she built a big house and raised the children. A few years ago her husband passed away. It seems like it was only yesterday.

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Serafima Gherman in her house

Sitting on the floor, she tried to put her thoughts in order and to arrange her belongings in the luggage. First, she was wondering if the pieces of frozen meat, packages of parsley, lovage and traditional cheese made from sheep milk will fit into the blue valise next to her. She was aware that the place she goes to is full of cheese and meat of any kind, but she also knew that the home-made food can’t be compared to anything. And then, she didn’t know how much time it will take until returning home. What if the meat rots?

The next thing Serafima took care for were her clothes, carefully arranged in a plastic bag, as well as her medicines. Still, it was too much stuff. Her grandson assured her that all the things that don’t fit in the valise will be brought by his mom, Serafima’s daughter, next time when she comes to Moldova. She also lives and works in Italy.

Serafima looked around one more time. She checked the papers and the medicines to not forget anything, and started to slowly move to the kitchen. She was crying. “It is very hard, living my entire life in one place and taking to the road now, when I am old. Who will take care of my house while I am gone?” she asked herself. Everything is left behind: a small house with a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom and the most important, a sparkly clean living room called in Romanian “casa mare”. Nobody lives in there. It’s for guests.

She sadly inspected the yard that has the softest and the greenest grass ever. Once it was full of hungry poultry: geese, ducks, chickens. Now it is so silent. All of them were slaughtered one after another as there was nobody who could take care of them while she was visiting her daughter in Italy.

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Serafima with her daughter, Angela

She never thought of being always on the road. Her heart was always weak and then the problems with blood pressure appeared. So, she had to travel a lot: from the local hospital in Brânzenii Vechi to the district hospital in Telenești, and then to Chișinău. Nobody knew what the health issue was. Only when her daughter Angela bought her a ticket to Italy, the physicians discovered the small intestine cancer. After long beggings from her daughter, Serafima accepted to be operated. In Italy, she got her residence permit and the papers for obtaining the 100% degree of disability, as she was hardly able to move and was in poor health. Now she must go to the doctor regularly. “I have to leave for a new consult. It happens every couple of months. I can’t be taken care of in my own country.”

It has been going on for several years now. And she cries every time. Her house fell into disrepair while it is so comfortable and nice in Italy, but so foreign. It’s like there is no life for her in that world.

She was wearing her favourite floral pink dress and a wool cardigan, as it was already quite cold. Leaning on her walking stick, Serafima slowly walked to the gateway, where a car was already waiting for her to take her to the airport in Chișinău. All she could do more was to ask her neighbour to come and check the house from time to time. Nobody knew when she would return, maybe after a couple of months, maybe in summer. Her grandson Liviu helped her with the luggage and nodded affirmatively while receiving indications from his grandma: “Buy some poison against mice and spread it in the corners and under the bed. Move that gas tank in the garage. I don’t want it to be stolen!”

They arrived at the airport and headed directly to the check-in desk. The luggage was already given, the check-in done, and a wheel chair was waiting for Serafima. Tears filled her eyes again. She hugged her beloved grandson and let herself to be guided to the departure gate. There were some other old people that were waiting to be boarded. Most probably they also flown to visit their children.

Republic of Moldova loses her citizens in a matter of hours. Namely, every hour four people leave the country seeking for a better life, according to BBC. In 2017 only, the number of persons over 15 years old that were established abroad for work purposes reached 318.4 thousand, out of which 20.2 thousand are persons aged over 55, as the official data by the National Statistical Office of Moldova states. In case the trend continues, it could lead to a demographic and economic collapse.

Featured image source: lufthansa.com
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