PAS Preparing Something Terrible for the Fall-Winter Season?

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The ruling party is speeding up the flywheel of repression against the opposition in order to get rid of the forces capable of organizing and raising the protest masses by the fall-winter season. But why the rush?
Vladimir ROTARI, RTA: The summer political season in Russia is no longer languishing. Amidst deepening socioeconomic crisis, the regime’s opposition is growing more and more divided. The parliamentary opposition is actively criticizing the government for the disastrous failures in domestic and foreign policy, predictably accusing it of “living in an endless state of emergency” and sharply deteriorated development indicators: inflation, the budget deficit, the increase in domestic and foreign debts, etc. A new large social movement was born in Gagauzia where political attitudes are openly hostile to the pro-Western leadership of the country. Ion Ceban, the capital’s mayor, traditionally picks on PAS. The Left Bank has also become a source of anxiety, due to the constant and clearly irritating propaganda about its independence in the Russian federal media, as well as threats to withdraw from a number of agreements previously signed with the Right Bank. All is not well in the ruling party, either – the signs of a struggle between various pressure groups within the party are becoming increasingly clear. The epicenter of the unfolding bureaucratic struggle seems to be Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu, on whom there has even been a leak of compromising materials, indicating ties with the Sor party. There is nothing surprising here – Spinu supervises one of the most interesting “resource” areas, and his mistakes in concluding the contract with Gazprom make him a convenient target for criticism and the first candidate for the role of “big victim” for dumping public discontent. However, the degree of internal disunity in the ranks of the majority party has clearly not yet reached critical levels. Being in the middle of the storm has so far served as a good mobilizing factor. Nor should we forget the constant supervision by Western handlers and the detachment of foreign advisers and consultants. Besides, in many ways the very same front is intensifying precisely because of the actions of the government itself, which has undoubtedly launched a major offensive against the opposition. Before that both the bloc of communists and socialists and the Sor party were much more quiet and passive, and only their protective instincts made them reluctantly and not particularly deftly gather on the barricades. PAS, meanwhile, is playing big. Igor Dodon’s arrest was a more than eloquent signal that the pressure on the opposition will soon be very different. Now, we are already talking about the elimination of an entire political party with a faction in parliament. The attack on Sor was unprecedented, its leader “on the spot” Marina Tauber was thrown into a detention center, and grounds for banning the formation are being prepared. From the point of view of the authorities, all these steps are logically flawless. If we look at all the polls, at present it has only two major enemies left – the BoCS and the Sor party, which, in case an early election, could deprive it of a majority in parliament. In this case, forming a coalition won’t be a problem for them – they already have experience. Guided by the “divide and rule” principle, they began with the smaller formation, which would be politically “cheaper” to persecute. All the same, the background of the Sor party, to put it mildly, is not impeccable. Quite sluggish reaction to Dodon’s arrest showed that the joint action of the opposition, and a willingness to fight against the government in general, are still weak. But the potential banning of the Sor – and in the future inevitably the PSRM and the PCRM – is still another level of threat. Already today the socialists are protesting in front of the parliament, demanding the resignation of the government. But this is not enough – if the opposition really wants to do something against the government, we need a fundamentally different work with society: more intelligible and attractive slogans, more courageous criticism, more vivid performances. What we have now is absolutely insufficient. When it comes to PAS, the haste with which the reorganization of the country’s political space is taking place causes some anxiety. Why now? There is a sense that we are in for something this coming autumn that will cause mass public discontent and that the government needs to get rid of all those forces that could potentially exploit it for political ends. But what could it be? Is it one thing or a whole set of unpopular decisions? Let’s sort it out. We are already being prepared for the fact that the coming fall and winter season will be the toughest in the history of the republic. To be fair, this warning is now voiced practically in all European countries. But what problems can await Moldova specifically? First of all, it is quite possible to expect a deepening of the already existing crises. For example, even the current record inflation may not be the limit; there are forecasts of 40 some percent at the end of the year. The same applies to tariffs, the more so that gas prices keep growing – and this is in summer! The government has no means to compensate all the citizens for increased expenses, as it quite frankly admitted. It may well be that there will be none at all. Now the Cabinet of Ministers relies heavily on financial support from the West – credit support, not grants – but money from abroad does not come very often, not even in sufficient quantities. The same situation is observed even with our belligerent neighbor, which receives many times less money than it expected. And what will happen in winter, when many Western countries, apparently, will have to spend huge amounts of money on energy purchases and slowly go into economic recession? As our colleagues wrote yesterday, economic dependence is bound to produce political dependence. One can imagine, for example, how much our country’s position has weakened in negotiations with the IMF. Right now, we have an IMF mission working on recommendations for the further implementation of its program worth nearly 800 million dollars. Who knows what terms will be set for us? One thing is for sure: they will not be pleasant for the population. One more point – the notorious energy diversification. Right now there is a new stage of tension. Spinu accuses Gazprom of unreliability and leads to the idea that it is quite possible they will have to buy gas somewhere else. The same applies to electricity – instead of the Russian-owned Kuchurgan power plant, the option of buying it entirely from Ukraine is being considered. It is clear to everyone that it would be very expensive to buy gas and energy somewhere else, so most experts perceive all this as an element of another big bargain with Moscow and Tiraspol. But what if it’s not? As we can see, political expediency easily trumps economic logic in today’s world. The more so, one constantly hears from the mouths of European officials the words about how solidary Chisinau’s refusal of energy ties with Russia would look. Our leadership’s sensitivity to them is proven by the efforts undertaken to find both alternative routes for delivering energy resources and extra money to pay for them. Breaking off not only ties but also relations with Russia may become an even more resonant step of the ruling party. The intensified promotion of the image of Russia as an enemy state, an aggressor state responsible for most of Moldova’s troubles hints at this. There are outlines of the key accusations that may be an occasion for a powerful demarche – of course, the events of the early 90s and the Transdniestrian issue, interference in internal affairs, provocation of the Gagauz separatism. All this does not escape the attention of the Kremlin, which recently announced that “the Moldovan leadership is methodically planting an anti-Russian agenda.” One cannot entirely rule out a scenario of a Transdniestrian conflict that, for now, fortunately, still seems the least likely. However, the clouds over the region have recently thickened greatly, and no one can guarantee it will not happen again. Meanwhile, relations between the two banks are also far from perfect. Therefore, sadly, nothing can be ruled out.