An oligarchic and dictatorial regime, similar to the one implemented by Vlad Plahotniuc, has been created in Moldova, according to a publication that substantiates its claim using Russian propaganda narratives.
NEWS: “Moldova remains a captured state, just as it has always been. The only thing that has changed is “the occupier”. Whereas back in the old days Plahotniuc and PDM ran the show, today president Maia Sandu and the ruling Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) do. While the French live in the fifth republic, Moldovans live in the second captured state.
You can examine the achievements of the current government for yourselves:
Designed at first as a response measure against the COVID pandemic, and later invoked due to the war in neighboring Ukraine, the government permanently and illegally prolonged the state of emergency.
It controls state structures, law enforcement agencies and the judiciary.
It introduced censorship.
It’s not just incapable of fighting “deep-seated” corruption, but stirs new corruption scandals, such as unchecked secret plans to purchase natural gas with taxpayer money and external loans.
It gets rid of troublemaking candidates enrolled in elections campaigns.
It persecutes opposition parties, to the point of disbanding them altogether.
It has done nothing to bring to justice the culprits behind the billion-dollar theft and to retrieve the resulting taxpayer prejudice.
It arrests, surveils and media-shames members and supporters of the opposition.
It uses the state’s secret services as a political police to crack down on the regime’s opponents.
It uses the state’s administrative resources to promote its own agenda, such as the development of the National Information Defense and Counter Propaganda Center – Patriot, which was called “the Ministry of Truth”, or to create a fund to support media outlets loyal to the regime.”.
NARRATIVES: Maia Sandu and PAS have created a dictatorship in the Republic of Moldova, which persecutes the opposition, exerts total control over the justice system, enforces censorship and uses political policing to silence its opponents, etc. The regime preserves its position by maintaining the state of emergency, eliminating opposition troublemakers, also by means of arrests, surveillance and media lynching targeting their members and candidates, using the state’s secret services as an instrument of secret police and redirecting budget funds to promote its own agenda.
BACKGROUND: Maia Sandu and PAS won the elections through a strong pro-European campaign, promising to reform the judiciary and combat corruption. The PAS government was invested with the Covid-19 pandemic in full-swing. It had to tackle post-pandemic soaring inflation, which hit hard most world economies. Starting February 2022, it also had to deal with the fallout of the war in Ukraine – insecurity and the risk of a military invasion, waves of refugees and sky-rocketing inflation, as well as a profound energy crisis.
The repeated price hikes served as a pretext to stage widespread anti-government protests, whereas the PAS government and Maia Sandu were accused of failing to manage the crisis, in particular to negotiate a lower price for natural gas imports from Russia.
On the other hand, the Moldovan government condemned the Russian invasion and provided humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees, strengthening Moldova’s relations with the West. In turn, the West provided Moldovan authorities with substantial financial effort to help the country overcome the multiple crises. In June 2022, the Republic of Moldova, jointly with Ukraine, obtained the EU candidate status.
Chișinău’s opposition to the war in Ukraine and its rapprochement to the EU have sparked Moscow’s discontentment, resulting in a surge of propaganda messages endorsed by Russian media institutions and officials, as well as pro-Russian politicians in Chișinău. Among the most popularized narratives are those regarding the Republic of Moldova’s imminent involvement in the war, the country’s NATO accession despite opposition from the majority population, Moldova’s unification with Romania, turning the country into a military hot zone, as well as the creation of a dictatorial regime in Chișinău.
PURPOSE: To describe the government in Chișinău as a dictatorship resembling the administration controlled by PDM and Vlad Plahotniuc. To justify the anti-establishment protests staged particularly by the wanted fugitive Ilan Shor, who is reportedly working with representatives of Russian secret intelligence.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The state of emergency. The Republic of Moldova called a state of emergency shortly after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, when PAS was in opposition. The state of emergency was extended several times, with a view to combating the pandemic, and later due to the energy crisis that swept the country starting the autumn of 2021. On February 24, 2022, with the launch of Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine, Moldovan authorities declared a state of emergency again, given that the Republic of Moldova shares 1,200 kilometers of borders with Ukraine. Of all regional states, Moldova was the most exposed to a Russian Federation attack. At the start of the war, when few experts expected the Ukrainian army would mount such a successful resistance, the Republic of Moldova, a country with a very influential Russian-speaking minority and a pro-Moscow breakaway region, was seen as Moscow’s next target. Shortly after the war started, a large number of Ukrainian refugees arrived in Moldova, and the authorities did a good job managing this crisis, international organizations have noted. The war in Ukraine caused a 30% increase in the inflation rate and triggered an energy crisis, at first due to soaring prices. Last autumn, due to shortage of gas and electricity reserves, the state of emergency was extended every two months.
In recent months, many voices in Chișinău as well as in Western administrations have been talking more and more about Moscow’s alleged plan to destabilize the internal context in the Republic of Moldova, including by means of protests, purportedly organized by Shor Party. The state of emergency was prolonged in the context of “continuous risks and threats targeting our national security, the provision of electricity supplies to the Republic of Moldova, as well as actions to sabotage the judiciary, which amplify attempts to destabilize the country and raise obstacles to our country’s efforts to join the European Union”, Prime Minister Dorin Recean has said.
The Constitutional Court has repeatedly ruled against several notifications filed by the opposition, calling on the authorities to lift the state of emergency.
The government controls state institutions and the judiciary. Like any other administration, PAS has changed the leadership of a number of state institutions, including its power structures. This is not however an argument proving that the PAS administration is committing irregularities or other types of abuse. On the contrary, Moldova’s judiciary seems to sabotage the government’s attempts to reform the justice system. This became transparent last spring, when judges tried to block the appointment to the Superior Council of Magistracy of several candidates nominated by a committee also made up of foreign legal experts, which verified the integrity of all candidates.
It introduced censorship. It’s an accusation widely promoted by Russian propaganda, which makes special mention of a December 2022 decision of the Commission for Exceptional Situations, which revoked the broadcast licenses of six Moldovan TV stations, accused of manipulation. In the last couple of years, the Republic of Moldova climbed over 60 positions in the press freedom index, now ranking 28th. Veridica has repeatedly debunked narratives of Russian propaganda tied to the introduction of censorship in the Republic of Moldova.
It gets rid of troublemaking candidates enrolled in elections campaigns. The author most likely refers to the exclusion of Shor Party candidate Marina Tauber from the Bățli City Hall mayoral race. Tauber’s candidacy was withdrawn after state authorities accused her of election fraud in the wake of a Bălți court ruling. In fact, Shor Party candidates were excluded from several election campaigns – the 2016 presidential election, the 2018 local election, the 2020 constituency elections. The 2023 Gagauz gubernatorial election was also fraught with fraud allegations presented against Shor Party representative, Evghenia Guțul, although the ballot was eventually validated.
It persecutes opposition parties, to the point of disbanding them altogether. The author probably refers to a Constitutional Court ruling which banned Shor Party, a political faction set up and led by Ilan Shor, an oligarch wanted in the 2014 billion-dollar bank theft, who is allegedly associated with representatives of Russian secret services.
It has done nothing to bring to justice the culprits behind the billion-dollar theft and retrieve the prejudice. It is not the Moldovan government’s remit to bring culprits to justice, whereas the retrieval of prejudices is mostly tied to the rulings of courts of law or the actions of prosecutors’ offices. It’s worth noting, however, the final sentence passed on April 13 against Ilan Shor, one the protagonists of the bank fraud, who was forced to pay back over 5 billion lei, tantamount to over a third of the total prejudice.
It arrests, surveils and media-shames members of the opposition and uses the regime’s secret services as a private secret police. Some opposition leaders have admittedly been detained in the last year, including first and foremost former president Igor Dodon and Shor Party vice-president, Marina Tauber. Igor Dodon is targeted by several corruption and treason investigations, and Veridica previously debunked several fake news articles on this story. Marina Tauber’s name is also tied to several inquiries into the illegal funding of her party. Tauber was detained on several occasions, while the Information and Security Service was also involved in parts of the investigation, and hers is not an isolated case.
It uses the state’s administrative resources to promote its own agenda, such as the development of the National Information Defense and Counter Propaganda Center – Patriot, or to create a fund to support media outlets loyal to the regime. The Moldovan Presidency indeed elaborated a bill on the creation of an agency to combat propaganda. It is unclear how much the authorities invested to write up this bill. There is also a draft law on the creation of a fund to subsidize media institutions, offering equal chances to all outlets, providing them with various forms of support and setting clear regulations (i.e. banning the funding of political parties using taxpayer money, etc.). The decisions will be taken by a council of experts, most of whom have been designated by civil society. The bill hasn’t been voted yet and the fund has not been created, just as there is no evidence this initiative is meant to support “outlets loyal to the regime”.