Cristian Cobuz//Moldova in the Year of the Plahotniuc-Dodon Binomial

We can say, without a doubt, that the year 2017 had started in the Republic of Moldova in the morning of November 14, 2016, when, at Chisinau, it was becoming clear that Igor Dodon had won the presidential elections, as I have written before in the article „Moldova has died gracefully with a Romanian passport in its hands”, when I was showing you that the ownership of the Romanian citizenship was imputed to the candidate Maia Sandu. That Monday in the middle of November, last year, was the start of a new mood, which continues to this day, pushing the Moldovan democracy to a very dangerous zone and leading the country toCrist the point where it could fall under Moscow’s absolute influence.

This was the year when the Romanians discovered Igor Dodon, bringing him, thanks to some very skillful mechanisms of Russian propaganda, very often in the prime time of the Romanian news, where he almost always talked about news without substance or fake news. The propaganda apparatus of the oligarch Plahotniuc took care, in this period, of informing us about fake strategical wars with the the Russian Federation and opacified very well the main problem of the Republic of Moldova, so that very few people from Romania understood what was really happening at east of Prut River.

Romanizing the politics on Bic River

The political scene in Chisinau has suffered modifications in the zone of unionist parties. Right after the elections, thanks to the cruel score of 1,8 percent, Ghimpu’s liberals, which in the last years had been holding the unionist flag in the Moldovan parliament, started a disintegration process of their party. The ex-Minister of Transport and Defense, Anatol Salaru (a kind of Miron Mitrea of the 2000’s in Romania) has deserted the party and has formed a new party, which later became the burrow of Romania’s ex-President, Traian Basescu. The interesting side of this maneuver is the fact that Anatol Salaru was bringing out all the reasons in the world for why he was leaving the liberals (who, at that time, were a leading party alongside with oligarch Plahotniuc), but he did not say a word about the oligarch and the captured state. At the beginning of the year, Ghimpu’s liberals were, therefore, thrown out of the power zone, and a new party was welcomed in their place, the brand new European People’s Party of Moldova, with Iurie Leanca as leader. In the extra-parliamentary camp, the two presidential parties have united their forces for the candidate Maia Sandu. The Party Action and Solidarity (PAS) and the Party Platform for Dignity and Truth (PPDA) have re-grouped and have stood this year an unequal battle for the salvation of Moldova’s democracy. They organized meetings against the change of the electoral code, they fought the power against controversial legislative projects, for example the decision to make the Moldovan citizens pay the debt of the stolen billion, or another controversial law, which was promoted this year, the one on liberalizing the circulation of capital (a law that literally sells Moldovan citizenship to whoever invests in Moldova). These two opposition parties have formed, basically, the only real resistance against the governance. In the first days of 2017, we have seen the first signs of the nontransparent negotiations between the socialist Igor Dodon and the oligarch Plahotniuc, a bargain that consisted in the democrats supporting Igor Dodon in the presidential elections, which I then called „the Plahotniuc-Dodon binomial”. Once Igor Dodon was anointed as President of the Republic of Moldova, he received a gift from Plahotniuc’s government, namely appointing Andrei Negruta, a person close to Igor Dodon, ambassador to Russia. Shortly after, GazProm, as a majority shareholder of MoldovaGaz, accepts the ex-Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Vasile Botnari, a character loyal to Plahotniuc, for the function of general director of the Moldovan company. But the most important achievement of the binomial happened in the middle of the year, when Plahotniuc’s democrats, together with Igor Dodon’s socialists, and with the support of Leanca’s European People’s Party, proposed a new electoral law in Moldova’s parliament, a law that radically changes the chances of the opposition and pro-European parties to accede in the future parliament. The law provides the following method of electing the members of parliament: half of the parliament is going to be elected on lists, and the other half is going to be elected by uninominal vote, in a single tour, the same way the mayors in Romania are being elected at present. This legislative initiative has been approved, even though the civil society in Moldova opposed it. Additionally, the diplomatic representatives from Chisinau have expressed their worries and disapproval on this modification, compared to the Romanian embassy, which declared nothing on this project and, most importantly, the Moldovan deputies have completely ignored the recommendations of the Venice Commission, which  opposed the law. The mixed uninominal law, as it is called in Moldova, a name that tricked even the prim-minister of Romania, Mihai Tudose, is actually a combination of two electoral systems – a proportional one, on lists, and the other one uninominal, in a single tour. This law is, actually, a present to Russia, because, in the actual configuration of the Moldovan electorate, Igor Dodon’s PSRM (Socialist Party of the Republic of Moldova) is going to adjudicate the absolute majority of uninominal colleges in its favor, because the socialists are the biggest party in Moldova, and the rest of the electorate is fragmented in a big number of pro-European, pro-Romanian and unionist parties.

The ballad of magistrate Manole

At the end of the last year, immediately after the presidential elections, the General Prosecutor’s Office in Chisinau has started an investigation against the magistrate Domnica Manole, an action that ended with Mrs. Manole’s exclusion from among the Moldovan magistrates. The judge Manole received a tough lesson from the oligarch Plahotniuc, because, during 2016, she approved the request from the Platform Dignity and Truth to oblige the Central Electoral Commission on organizing a country referendum, with the purpose to modify the Moldovan Constitution, so that the president was going to be elected by the people, not by the parliament. The Moldovan prosecutors found the judge guilty of going beyond the referendum law, because she did not respect one the law’s provisions, which says that, of all the 200 000 necessary signatures, at least 20 000 have to be from each Moldovan district. This old provision, which dates from the period when Moldova was structured in counties, each of which consisted of two-three districts, is not applicable anymore, because today Moldova has districts that do not even have 20 000 people. In their ridiculous attempt to punish the magistrate, the prosecutors inserted in her „professional” dossier a note from the Moldovan Information and Security Service, which stated that there was some „vagueness” concerning the dossier. The note was the reason the judge appealed to Constitutional Court, and Mrs. Manole has won the case, because the Moldovan ISS has no attributions concerning the magistrates’ dossiers. Judge Manole appealed to court her exclusion from among the magistrates and is carrying a lawsuit against president Dodon, because he has signed the decree that led to her exclusion, a lawsuit that will take place at the Court of Appeals in Balti (another big city in Moldova). During this entire war on regaining her statute as a magistrate, Mrs. Manole was supported by all of the ambassadors appointed to Chisinau. Among them was His Excellency James D. Pettit, the USA ambassador to the Republic of Moldova, Pirkka Tapiola and Peter Michalko, the ex- and, respectively, the present EU ambassador to Chisinau and many other representatives of the civilized world, all of which have shown their support for Mrs. Manole. Moreover, they all made photos with her and posted them on the websites of the embassies. There was only one diplomatic representative that did not consider necessary to support Mrs. Manole – the only magistrate that found the courage to oppose the oligarch Plahotniuc -, His Excellency Mr. Daniel Ionita, the Romanian ambassador to Moldova, because he was too busy inaugurating the oligarch’s SPA centers.

The murderers of Andrei Braguta

The event that escalated into full-scale collaborationism between the institutions financed by Bucharest and oligarch Plahotniuc took place at the beginning of September, when a young Moldovan, Andrei Braguta, died unexpectedly at the Center for detention and pre-trial detention of Chisinau municipality. When the civil society and the minority independent press in Chisinau started investigating the case, the news portal came to support the Moldovan authorities. Thus, after an intense promotional campaign of the case, the portal published the video, in which the young man is arrested, the title saying that the decedent Braguta „was violent in the moment of his arrest”. What the Moldovans actually saw in that video is the fact that Andrei Braguta was extremely healthy  and did not look like a guy who was living his last days. The portal’s attitude outraged the civil society of Moldova, which simply exploded at the servility of the institutions financed with Romania’s public money towards oligarch Plahotniuc and his propaganda apparatus. Vitalie Calugareanu’s facebook post „Romanians, do you really know what you are financing in Moldova?”, as well as the entire attitude of the institutions that represent Romania in Chisinau, were the elements that made me, personally, no to be proud anymore of being a Romanian in Moldova’s capital.

Basescu and unionism in Plahotniuc’s yard

In the first days of the second tour of the presidential elections, the unionists from Chisinau invaded the Great National Assembly Square with Romanian flags and unionist slogans, blocking the announced demonstrations of the opposition from Chisinau (the electorate of Maia Sandu and Andrei Nastase), who intended to demonstrate against the irregularities that took place during the presidential elections. Had the demonstrations taken place, they would have been directed towards a great unionist protest, deviating from the real problem that the non-parliamentary opposition faces. This sabotaging unionist maneuver was very well directed by Plahotniuc. I was then showing that, among the young „unionists”, there were also members of the Democratic Party of Moldova. Moreover, the unionism has slowly slipped into Plahotniuc’s camp, and the moment when Adrian Candu, the speaker of the Moldovan parliament and Plahotniuc’s family friend, starts talking about a day when he will, probably, no longer be a deputy in the Moldovan parliament, but in the Romanian one, a moment doubled by Cosmin Gusa’s advice to negotiate the unification with the oligarch Plahotniuc, confirms his plan to take over the unionism. This unionist distraction is present on every television channel owned by Plahotniuc, when the analysts he pays talk about the unavoidable construction, after the elections of 2018, of PDM (Democratic Party of Moldova), Maia Sandu’s PAS (the Party for Action and Solidarity) and Traian Basescu’s PUN (the National Unity Party). Its purpose is to make Maia Sandu less credible, given the fact that her electorate would never agree wit her making a coalition with the oligarch Plahotniuc. The truth is that Maia Sandu and Andrei Nastase have announced that they will participate together in the parliamentary elections of 2018 and this announcement was not received warmly neither by Plahotniuc, nor by PSRM (the Socialist Party of Moldova), because, given the fact that Maia and Andrei together have 35-40% of the electorate, they are not sure anymore about winning the 48 uninominal colleges on the territory of Moldova. This scenery, in which PAS and PPDA participate together in the elections, radically changes the paradigm of Moldovan politics, thus transforming the next parliamentary elections in an equation with just two players: Igor Dodon’s socialists and the Sandu-Nastase alliance.

The end of the Plahotniuc – Dodon binomial?

All along 2017, the oligarchs’ propaganda apparatus served us false anti-Russian subjects (on Rogozin being declared persona non grata, on the UN’s request to retreat the Russian troops from Transnistria), but the beginning of December brings a news in the complicated relationship between the oligarch’s government and the Kremlin administration. The Russian journalists are talking about an arrest warrant on oligarch’s name. After a few days, the Filip government is recalling the Moldovan ambassador from Moscow, Andrei Negruta, on an undetermined period, and the reaction of Russian diplomacy is cold: «We regret…”. These moves from the last days show that Moscow has entered the elections campaign with Igor Dodon, and the Russian political experts know very well that PSRM (the Socialist Party of the Republic of Moldova) can grow bigger if the Moldovan president and its socialists will abandon oligarch Plahotniuc. Igor Dodon, who has won it all – the Moldovan presidency and the approval of the uninominal law, is abandoning his benefactor and is offering him to us, the Romanians, pushing him in our arms, knowing that, in this way, the pro-European and pro-Romanian political forces are going to lose some of their electorate.






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