The fight against corruption and state institutions purification have become key points of the new president’s election program. But to implement them, she will need real leverage over authorities, especially over criminal prosecution institutions.
Against the background of last few months general instability, the year 2021, as expected, began with new showdowns within Moldovan power structures. The same thing happened to the Prosecutor General’s Office; in Moldovan realities it is one of the key state institutions. Early January, Prosecutor General Alexandru Stoianoglo announced pro-European politicians being unprecedentedly pressing on prosecutor’s office.
The post of Prosecutor General is traditionally a “tasty morsel” for various political forces and the struggle for this post would flare up under any power in the Republic of Moldova. That is why, the entire history of independent Moldova knows no prosecutor general fulfilling his powers till the end of his mandate – all of them voluntarily resigned against the backdrop of high-profile scandals and public pressure. Dmitry Postovan is the only exception. He held this post from 1990 to 1998.
The new president, Maia Sandu, follows historically established trends and realizes how important it is to control this institution, as well as its fundamental importance for implementing the goals stated: the fight against corruption and state bodies reorganization (in case of emergency, it will serve for reprisals against political opponents).While still prime minister, she demanded Prosecutor General Eduard Harunjen’s resignation, who was accused of having ties with the oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc. Subsequently, she took steps to lobby for appointing the desired candidate for this post. Thus, in 2019, on her initiative, a special commission of the Ministry of Justice was created. It was supposed holding a competition for the position of Prosecutor General. However, after the “unsatisfactory” selection results, Sandu Government’s Minister of Justice Olesea Stamate has simply cancelled the results.
Afterwards, the government proposed amendments to the law on prosecutor’s office, according to which the Prime Minister himself had to send potential candidates to the Supreme Council of Prosecutors. Moreover, the current president proposed adopting these amendments without parliament consent (under his own responsibility). It is well known the way this story ended – a political crisis, the consequences of which ended with the ruling coalition’s collapse and Sandu government’s resignation. As a result, Alexandru Stoianoglo turned out Prosecutor General.
Since then, the issue has not become less important. Even before taking office as president, Maia Sandu resumed attempts to seize control over PGO (Prosecutor General’s Office), putting pressure on her current boss’ person. On the air of Moldovan TV channels, she openly stated that if she won the presidential elections, she would remove Stoianoglo from office. It is quite possible that the Head of State has not only interests in the effective investigation of high-profile criminal cases but also personal accounts with the current Prosecutor General.
At the same time, today the Head of State called “speculations” the rumors about the impending resignation of Prosecutor General and claimed she has no authority to take such a step. Maia Sandu did not confirm as well the information about any pressure on Prosecutor’s Office. By the way, Stoianoglo himself recently announced there was no confrontation with the Head of State.
Many Moldovan experts, for example, former ECHR judge Stanislav Pavlovschi and former President of the Constitutional Court Dumitru Pulber confirm that there is no legal way to early dismiss the Prosecutor General, since this figure is completely independent from the government, president and parliament. In addition, if the Prosecutor General is dismissed illegally, the Constitutional Court will be able to reinstate him.
However, Moldovan politics has always been a mine of immense possibilities, often outside the constitutional field. After all, no one canceled, for example society and colleagues’ pressure that can force Stoianoglo to resign at his own request. The option of initiating a criminal case against the Prosecutor General is also preserved. If you look at the historical experience, then there are enough scenarios. Thus, Stoianoglo’s predecessor Eduard Harunjen left office following a joint ultimatum from the president and parliament, Corneliu Gurin – amid widespread public protests in 2015-2016, Valeriu Zubco – following the scandal over the businessman Sorin Paciu’s death. Therefore, anticipating possible intrigues, Stoianoglo has already turned to the Venice Commission, the European Parliament and other international structures for support.
Today, advisers to the incumbent president, deputies from the PAS and DA parties do categorically oppose Prosecutor General. A story about Alexander Stoianoglo’s connections with businessman Veacheslav Platon appeared quite “in time”. And although the accusations on this issue come, rather, from Democratic Party’s supporters, the president and his entourage use them in their own interests.
It is noteworthy that a number of Prosecutor General’s criticists from the right-wing camp appear to have problems with the law. For example, it is not accidentally that some of the presidential advisers – Olesea Stamate, Alla Nemerenсo, Liliana Nicolescu-Onofrei and Sergiu Tofilat – had not enough time to declare their income. The same can be said about PAS deputies Dumitru Alaiba and Veronica Rosca, who are accused of falsifying information about property. Protecting your supporters from undue regulatory scrutiny may well be another motive for owning PGO.
Having won the elections, Maia Sandu, found herself shackled by narrow presidential powers and is now logically seeking to build a vertical of power for herself. In this sense, the Prosecutor General’s Office is a critical milestone that holds the keys to many future political victories. Winning it will, most likely be the principal task this year. And even though the current Prosecutor General distanced himself as much as possible from any political games during his mandate and formally declared that the headed body is being complete neutral – within modern realities, when you are “either with us or against us”, this will clearly not be enough for any of the parties to the internal political confrontation.
Get real time update about this post categories directly on your device, subscribe now.