Veronica Dragalin to Replace Maia Sandu?

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Anton Șveț
It is hard not to notice that the new Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office Head resembles President Maia Sandu, which becomes even more striking after studying Veronica Dragalin’s biography
On June 7, the Supreme Council of Prosecutors recommended the appointment of Veronica Dragalin as the head of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, based on her interview results. Of the four applicants, she was the one who managed to score the highest marks, confidently beating her rivals, some by a third, some by twice. Already on June 15, Acting Prosecutor General Dumitru Robu signed an order appointing the winner as the Chief Anti-Corruption Prosecutor. However, Veronica Dragalin did not take up her duties until early August, as she was closing cases in her previous position, in California. Legislation does not impose a residency requirement for the position of Chief Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, yet she has spent practically her entire adult life abroad. Her elementary schooling took place in Italy and Germany, after which her family emigrated to the U.S. – Dragalin was 11 at the time. After graduating from high school in Pennsylvania, she went on to study biology and chemistry at North Carolina and at the University of Virginia Law School. In the U.S., she worked in her profession as a Deputy U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Department of Corruption and Public Rights in the Central District of California. Based on her submitted biography, Veronica Dragalin has investigated corruption, bribery, bank fraud and money laundering, including international cooperation in legal assistance and through Interpol. The mother of the new prosecutor is Elena Dragalin, Moldova AID’s president and founder of the Moldovan-American convention for maintaining informal contacts between the two countries at the level of civil servants and public persons. She is credited with active financing Maia Sandu’s election campaign at the end of 2020 and PAS’ parliamentary elections last year. Elena Dragalin acts as an important communicator and lobbyist for the current authorities in the American establishment. The peculiarities of Veronica Dragalin’s bio and professional background allow us to see a functionary person fully controlled by Washington, who considers her tasks in Moldova as an interface in building a successful career. It reminds of Maia Sandu, Natalia Gavrilita and many other ministers and the ruling party’s top officials who have been employed by Western companies for many years and may well return there. At her first press conference on August 19, Veronica Dragalin tried her best to stress her non-systemic nature: “Criminals from the system – prosecutors, judges and officers are most dangerous.” The typical approach of an ‘outsider’, untainted by professional experience on the territory of their own country. Many PAS descendants employed a similar image when they came to power. Unlike Maia Sandu’s and Natalia Gavrilita’s teams, the Chief Anti-Corruption Prosecutor still has time to get pumped up and exhibit success – in her words, the results are to be assessed “not in a day or even a few months”. However, the availability of a temporary resource doesn’t remove the fact of the similarity between the worldview and political goals of Veronica Dragalin and other representatives of the current government, concentrated in Maia Sandu. Political experts weren’t too surprised by Dragalin’s voiced priorities of the Anti-Corruption Body – action, equality and transparency, suspiciously echoing the name of PAS. The banal set of other messages along the lines of “we as an institution should have the courage to investigate the crimes of people who have held or are holding important positions” or “I want to help my country” were not a surprise either. It was quite clear, especially given the technical problems with organizing the event, that two weeks in her new position was not enough time for her to absorb the cases, strategize and establish the workflow. As part of the current government, the first thing she did was to meet with foreign ambassadors, representing the main pillar and hope for a “successful transition,” because it was the Western countries that could help recover or somehow compensate for the stolen billion. The new Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, her appearance and the way she communicated with the public, was of great interest. It is impossible to ignore the fact that her haircut is a cosplay of Maya Sandu’s permanent hairstyle. The timbre of her voice, the phrasings used, and even her accent are very similar. To all appearances, both have similar psycho-types and temperaments, and, most importantly, are ideological westerners, completely bound to American and European structures. One can’t shake the feeling that Veronica Dragalin is a young and completely controllable version of the acting President, including physically. It is as if Maia Sandu might need to be replaced very soon, perhaps even before the next elections. The rumor is that the president is struggling to cope with the tasks entrusted. The tough political and economic situation, criticism from the opposition and the population, as well as her unusual occupation undermined her health. There were cases when Maia Sandu refused from international meetings, citing poor health. Now the president went to Austria for a completely passable event, absolutely not requiring such a high level of representation. As if she desperately needs a change of entourage and a break from the internal Moldovan affairs. Apparently, the West is concerned that Maia Sandu will not cope with her duties and will lose control. And since they are used to always having a plan B, they are already preparing a de facto doppelganger for the Moldovan president, choosing the high-profile position of Chief Anti-Corruption Prosecutor as a launching pad. It seems that Maia Sandu was so long afraid of the traditional competition on the right wing (from Andrei Nastase or the liberals) that she missed the appearance of a young rival actually in her ranks. This contest, orchestrated from Washington, will be interesting to watch.