Athos or Barricades: Igor Dodon’s Unobvious Choice

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Just last week in an interview with the RTA editorial team, I wondered if Igor Dodon could finally get rid of the reputation of a politician who was not ready to bring out his supporters to protest against the current government in 2019? Then, let me remind you, the President of Moldova warned that in 2019 people would go to the streets in case the real power again got not to the socialists.I remember that the pitfalls of such determination of Igor Dodon were already seen with the naked eye at that time: the statement was habitually tough and uncompromising, but in Moldovan politics something can always go wrong. Especially, in the distant February 2019. Moreover, both supporters and simply intrigued observers have long waited for such a determination of the PSRM leader – so there is always special attention to the long-awaited events. The situation raises a lot of questions: on the one hand, the recently reformed electoral system of the RM resulted from strange synergy of the positions of the PSRM and the Democratic Party, explained by all its creators in approximately the same way – it will be better, more honest, and so on. But now it is unclear how the president will be able to interpret the unfavorable results of the election: after all, in theory,the electoral system should have become better and more justafter the reform. Only a few days after we discussed the protests announced by Igor Dodon, all the contradictions resolved themselves. On August 9, the head of state first announced that he would sign the tax reform package proposed by the Democratic Party, so expectedly brought upon himself the criticism of all opposition camps. Then he immediately left to Mount Athos in the company of fellow Socialists. After that life-affirming photos from the Holy Mountain and victorious reports about the conquest of the highest peak appeared on his FB page. With all these correlated happenings it seems obvious to me that in analyzing the political behavior of the head of state, experts always overlook one important detail: Mr. Dodon is a multi-child, faithful Orthodox Christian that helped him to gain the sympathy of a significant part of the very devout population of Moldova.Denial of the Western understanding of ‘tolerance’, the cult of family, traditions, Moldovan ‘soil-bound’ tradition are important and, above all, no-lose components of Igor Dodon’s rhetoric. In the eyes of a certain part of the electorate, the Moldovan president could be a “strong master” of the country if he received a sufficient share of power. True, there is no longer a political, but a conceptual contradiction: the revolution and religious humility are things that are not very compatible. “All power comes from God”, wrote the Apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Romans. Since then, this common phrase provokes heated debate among Christians, but is usually interpreted in the literal sense: it is not good to go against the current government. In this context, as a Moldovan citizen who is well acquainted with Orthodox traditions, it is not entirely clear how Igor Dodon-politician and Igor Dodon-Christian will be able to get along in 2019, and how personally for himself and his adherents the president will justify the choice of not humility, but a tough and essentially anti-government confrontation on the barricades of protests.What will tip the scaleseventually, the overthrow of the country in domestic political chaos or Christian humility? Moreover, it was the path of humility that Igor Dodon chose in 2017 for the sake of the supreme goal, as he said in a recent interview. According to Christian logic, the power of the parliament, government or president, albeit with limited powers comes from God. Perhaps the non-resistance of Igor Dodon to cynical attacks against him by the government and the Democratic Party is not such a sophisticated strategy, but a deliberate rejection of conflict, dictated by the personal convictions of the president? And Jesus’s call to Peter to “put the sword into sheath” is a direct imperative for him? This is praiseworthy behavior of a highly spiritual person, but an original trait for a politician of this level, especially in a long-suffering Moldova. After the president climbed on Athos, the situation with the announcement of “protests to the end” is more like an attempt to raise the bid in the upcoming 2019 power bargaining than the true revolutionary fervor. Is Igor Dodon ready to contravene Christian values and involve the masses of people who trust him in protests against the current government with very vague prospects of success? The main thing is that his decision should be unambiguous and really well-considered: here, either conquer Mount Athos, or climb up street barricades. Between these two heights lies a deep abyss. The hypothetical attempt of the leader of socialists to combine one with another involuntarily makes one recall the historical experience of the infamous George Gapon. God forbid, as they say.