Expert: Igor Dodon Preparing to Adjust His Policy

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RTA expert Sergey Cheban does not exclude that the President will try to get rid of the image of a pro-Russian politician to preserve the unity of the socialist faction in Parliament. “Political observers have already found out that relations between Igor Dodon and his Moscow partners have cooled somewhat after the unconvincing result of the PSRM in the elections. Now the main intrigue is the next steps of the President, and he does not seem to let the people be bored. Otherwise, nothing can explain yesterday’s meeting of Igor Dodon with US Ambassador Derek Hogan, where they discussed scenarios for the formation of the ruling coalition. It seems that dear Mr. President is trying by all means to remain in the spotlight as long as possible,” says Cheban. According to the expert, Igor Dodon is trying to carry on an intrigue for a while, demonstrating his exceptionalism for the Moldovan policy, signaling the readiness for dialogue with all centers of power and his relevance as a real leader of the largest parliamentary faction. “That’s why there was this meeting with the US Ambassador: why not show that the President is seriously taken and consulted in the West, especially given that the socialists invited the pro-European ACUM bloc to have a coalition?” he says. The analyst draws attention to the fact that the PSRM is vulnerable today, as there is a discussion within the party about the future political path. In these conditions, Cheban’s confident, Igor Dodon avoids extremes and tries to constantly maneuver to preserve the viability of the party and the parliamentary faction. Otherwise, the socialists can expect ideological discord and fragmentation into ‘affinity groups’, which the President cannot allow. The danger of such actions for the President, according to Sergey Cheban, is quite obvious Moscow’s reaction to this kind of multi-vector approach. “It is no secret that the Kremlin expected the widely announced by Mr. Dodon convincing victory of the PSRM in the February elections. The Russian leadership’s increased attention and demonstrative personal liking of Dodon can speak of Moscow’s high stakes and, for obvious reasons, of the subsequent rethinking of the election results. More and more often comments of Russian experts and publications in the mass media have suggestions either about some idealistic detachment of Mr. Dodon from reality, or about misleading of his Russian partners. To discuss the formation of power in Moldova with the Ambassador of the main geopolitical enemy of Russia in these conditions is a very bold and demonstrative step,” the analyst notes. Cheban suggests that the leadership of the PSRM, headed by Dodon, probably best understands the difficult situation on the Russian track and is now looking for a way to maintain its political position at least for the short term. “The Kremlin has made the PSRM very generous gifts and advances in a big Russian way: abolished duties on Moldovan goods and amnestied almost 200,000 Moldovan migrants, apparently working illegally in Russia. These people were expected to return and vote for the Party of Socialists. The outcome could be two scenarios that are equally bad for the PSRM. The first one: migrants from Russia returned to the country by February 24, put a tick next to the Party of Socialists, which means that the real popularity of the political force of Igor Dodon among the people permanently living in Moldova is even lower than the results of the PSRM in the elections. The second explanation – the migration amnesty did not work, and this means that neither the President nor the Party of Socialists encouraged employable citizens of Moldova to return home and vote for them,” says Cheban. “If it’s so, there should be no surprise over maneuvers of the President. In the near future, the PSRM will definitely look for a new source of political power,” he notes. According to the expert, the increase in gas prices for Moldova was the first clear and loud signal of Moscow’s discontent. The analyst recalls that in the past Igor Dodon has repeatedly spoken out on this matter and even intended to freeze the growth of prices for the Moldovan population, taking advantage of the observer status in the EAEU. “Something clearly went wrong,” emphasizes Cheban. “If “everything is complicated” in the Eastern direction, as it’s now common in the profile in social networks, then we can expect that Igor Dodon will begin to actively adjust his policy in the very near future,” the expert notes. Cheban points out that the main political forces will have to stop using tough geopolitical rhetoric in any form for a while for the future coalition. The working version of the unifying platform is the so-called national accord, a ‘pro-Moldovan’ idea that has already been voiced by both Socialists and Democrats. The trick is that this ideology does not simply contradict, it directly prescribes interaction of all ‘mature’ and ‘responsible’ statesmen guided by the political ‘center’. “Recently, Igor Dodon clearly and unambiguously described his position, answering the question of the correspondent of the Azerbaijani news agency whether he is a ‘pro-Russian’ President. Igor Dodon said that this is not true, he is a Pro-Moldovan politician: “Today, I made a statement that the only way for Moldova is pro-Moldovan path. We have an Association Agreement with the European Union, develop relations with the CIS countries and the EAEU and believe that such a policy meets the interests of Moldova,” the expert recalls. According to him, at the same time Igor Dodon noted that in any case he would “do everything possible to ensure that the (parliamentary) coalition is created, and Moldova has a stable Parliament and government.” “Thus, in this renewed post-election reality, the President of Moldova’s discussion of the scenarios of forming a ruling coalition with the young and ambitious US Ambassador looks quite logical and consistent. Now all the fun begins,” concludes Sergey Cheban.