NARRATIVE: The Shor Party was outlawed at the behest of the government and the decision of the Constitutional Court was a political one, on grounds that are not valid.
LOCAL CONTEXT/ ETHOS: On June 19, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova declared the Shor Party unconstitutional, following a notification submitted in November 2022 by the Government. The Court came to the conclusion that the Shor political party militates against the principles of the rule of law”, the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Moldova”.
In its notification, the Government mentions several violations of the law, committed by the Shor Party in election campaigns , which led to the exclusion of its candidates from the election, accusations of illegal funding of the party, including from external sources, but also the inclusion of the party and its leader, the fugitive politician Ilan Shor, in the US government's sanctions list, based on the Magnitsky Act. “This represents, through its actions, a threat to the existence or sovereignty of the state, to the democratic order within it”, says the government, also stating that unconstitutionality can also be proclaimed in “when political parties essentially represent criminal associations or use secret or subversive methods as instruments of political struggle and promotion of one's own agenda.”
On October 26, the US Treasury included the Shor Party and its leader in the list of sanctions, arguing that they tried to hijack the European course of the Republic of Moldova and bring it back into Russia's sphere of influence, collaborating to this end with individuals from the Russian Federation.
Ilan Shor is an oligarch who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his involvement in a major bank fraud in 2014. In 2016, the oligarch became a politician and founded the Shor Party on the basis of a pro-Russian political party. He was the mayor of Orhei and a deputy since 2019 until recently, when his mandate was revoked after he was convicted. In 2019 he fled to Israel, whose citizenship he holds. Since 2022, Shor’s party has organized several anti-government protests which, according to the American authorities, were aimed at establishing a regime favorable to Moscow.
PURPOSE: To present the pro-European government in Chisinau as a dictatorial one and thus reduce the number of supporters of European integration. To present the Shor Party as a political victim, thus favoring the growth of the image of its leaders.
WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: Before ruling, the Constitutional Court also requested an opinion from the Venice Commission regarding the Government's approach from last November. The Venice Commission noted that a decision to declare a political party unconstitutional can represent an interference with the right to free association, therefore the decision must be legal, legitimate and proportionate. In the same document, the Commission specifies that it is within the responsibilities of the Constitutional Court to rule on this matter.
In the reasoning presented by the Constitutional Court shortly after the ruling, the institution presents the arguments it took into account. It recalls the multiple cases in which the Shor Party violated the legislation on the financing of political parties; the practice continued even after the authorities decided to impose sanctions and in spite of some final court decisions, which shows the systemic nature of the violation of the law. The sanctions imposed by the EU, the United States and Norway on the Shor Party are also mentioned against this background, as well as documents issued by the Chisinau authorities, including the Intelligence and Security Service, which show the involvement of a foreign state (Russia, which is not explicitly mentioned in the decision) in funding this political party.
The Constitutional Court also recorded the opinion of the Venice Commission according to which "the general situation in the country is an important factor in evaluating the use by a party of inappropriate or even illegal means to distract voters from other parties or even the use of resources to undermine the fairness or integrity of political competition, leading to distortions of the electoral process, through improperly obtained advantage, supported by unauthorized foreign funding" and stated that the organization of protests aimed at overthrowing the government and funding from outside intensified after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, as the conflict is also affecting the security of the Republic of Moldova. Moreover, the Court noted that “the party's objective to overthrow the democratic order can be evidenced by cases of non-transparent funding, protests organized and paid for by the party in non-transparent way and the demands of the party representatives and even of Mr. Ilan Shor expressed during these meetings.”
Several experts in Chisinau have termed the Court’s decision as justified and well-argued.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: The decision of June 19 is a first for the Republic of Moldova and, indeed, there is no legal framework that accurately provides for the procedures to be followed after declaring a party unconstitutional, but the Court's decision stipulates that they will be dealt with by a commission established by the Ministry of Justice.