NARRATIVE: The pro-Western power in Chișinău is discriminating Gagauzians and could start a new inter-ethnic conflict.
BACKGROUND: Gagauzia is an autonomous region in southern Moldova, accounting for approximately 5% of its total territory and population. The region is home to a predominantly Gagauzian population, which was brought here by Russian imperial authorities following the annexation of Bessarabia in 1912.
In the 1990s, after the collapse of the USSR, Gagauzia proclaimed its independence for a short while, and was granted the status of Autonomous Territorial Unit under the 1994 Constitution, having its own Parliament and Government, while its governor is an official member of the Government in Chișinău.
Over the years, there have been many attempts from certain groups and politicians in Gagauzia to expand the region’s autonomy. The Gagauz population in the Republic of Moldova mostly speaks Russian. The large majority doesn’t speak Gagauz (a Turkish dialect) and even less so Romanian. The Gagauz people support Moldova’s accession to the Eurasian Union, according to the figures of the 2014 census, which has never been acknowledged by Chișinău authorities. Although the EU and Romania have been investing in scores of projects in the region in the last few years, the population’s geopolitical options have not changed. Over 90% of eligible voters favor left-wing parties, which also happened in the July 11 legislative election.
The dismissal of the prosecutor general is one of the hottest topics in recent weeks in Chișinău. PAS, which won the July 11 election, promised to mount an anti-corruption campaign and to reform the judiciary. One of its first actions was a legislative proposal providing for an evaluation of the activity of the prosecutor general, which could serve as a basis for his dismissal. The project has been harshly criticized by the opposition, prosecutors and part of civil society, including by experts who are purportedly close to PAS.
The Republic of Moldova’s Prosecutor General is Alexandr Stoianoglo, a Gagauz ethnic, who was appointed during the Socialists’ term in office. Stoianoglo is often accused of his alleged connection with the controversial tycoon Veaceslav Platon. Despite being commonly considered the brains behind several takeovers of company shares and the man who launders billions of dollars, Platon was released during Stoianoglo’s term in office, after having been convicted in two investigations. Stoianoglo motivated the decision, claiming both investigations had been started for political reasons.
PURPOSE: To spark inter-ethnic conflicts in the Republic of Moldova. To present the pro-Western regime in Chișinău as instigating inter-ethnic conflicts in the Republic of Moldova. To shift the focus in the dismissal of the prosecutor general from professional competence to inter-ethnic relations.
WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: The Prosecutor General is an important figure in the Republic of Moldova, and over the years politicians have been constantly trying to influence him. Over 2009-2019, there have been claims the Prosecutor’s office was controlled by the former leader of the Democratic Party, Vlad Plahotniuc. One of the first actions of government that replaced the outgoing Democratic Cabinet in 2019, a government that PAS and the Party of Socialists were members of, was to pressure the then prosecutor general, Eduard Harunjen, who resigned shortly afterwards.
Ridding the prosecutor’s office and the judiciary of incompetent and corrupt people is one of the priorities PAS has been advocating for several years. The action to sack Stoianoglo has nothing to do with his nationality. Plans for excluding the prosecutor of Gagauzia from CSP, a provision that has been in force since 2016, is rather an attempt at curtailing the influence of prosecutors in this institution and of boosting the power of members outside the system.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: PAS and Maia Sandu want to dismiss the current prosecutor general.
WHO STANDS TO BENEFIT: The Bloc of Communists and Socialists, Moscow.