Moldovan Protest to Be “Put Out” With Conflict?

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Sergiu CEBAN
The large-scale demonstrations in the capital reflect the difficult position of the ruling party, which is rapidly losing popularity and has no real opportunity to improve the country’s socio-economic conditions. But the current regime has other options for tempering the protest fervor of its citizens
Judging by the latest opinion polls, the overall rating of the authorities is steadily declining. Support for the president is also falling. If early elections were held in the near future, the parliamentary majority would go to political forces loyal to Moscow. In this light, yesterday the Sor Party made the largest so far attempt to heat up the public and set in motion the “mill furnace” of continuous protest. The move is expected – the popularity of Ilan Sor and his party is steadily growing, and it is quite logical that the fugitive oligarch took the protest initiative in his own hands. Meanwhile, the ruling majority is becoming more and more vulnerable with each passing week, having neither ready-made solutions to the accumulating problems nor clear answers to the quite specific questions of the population. Like the year before, to the delight of the entire opposition, the current cabinet can stumble at almost any moment. As the experience of launching a website to look for firewood has shown, it takes just a trifle. The political climate in Moldova is tense. For all the monopoly position of the current government, there is absolutely no confidence that the country’s leadership is able to manage the internal challenges. And they will only grow. Experts have been talking for a long time about a tacit “agreement” of the fugitive Moldovan oligarchs striving for political revenge. The main support for them is our bureaucratic system which is resisting by all means any attempts to make it play by new rules. It is the clans among the security forces, the judiciary and mid-level officials who fully support the former order and can at any time play along with the protest movement, thus paralyzing any protective measures of the current government. Yesterday’s rally, which took place between the parliament and the presidency, did not reach the announced figure of fifty thousand people. However, this can only be regarded as a good warm-up. All the more so since it was put non-stop on the same day, and a tent camp was erected outside the main government buildings, following the tried-and-tested methods of the so-called color revolutions. In fact, it seems that the coordinators of the protest are still just testing out their plans for a “hot protest autumn,” observing the reactions and counteractions of the authorities, law enforcement agencies, and special services. For now, they are radiating confidence by issuing the Sor party an official authorization to hold an event in the center of the capital. This, apparently, should show that the situation is under control, and that the law enforcement agencies can handle any civil activism. Basically, yesterday’s PAS stress test was more or less successful. The opposition, having monitored the organizational abilities of the state structures, will no doubt keep bringing people to the streets. Despite the considerable growth, the Sor protest is still deeply toxic, so virtually all political forces stay away and avoid being associated with the fugitive oligarch of Orhei. Yet BoCS, albeit reluctantly, is playing along with the Sor party, having fired another blank volley last week in the form of a vote of no confidence in Natalia Gavrilita's government. Such a move was probably part of the parliamentary opposition's autumn agenda, but Moscow seems to have asked them to speed up and create the necessary backdrop for yesterday’s protest. In fact, the communist-socialist alliance, which has confidently lost the political initiative, risks finding itself on the side-lines of its former junior partners from Orhei. The risk of losing exclusive positions in the Kremlin’s strategy is huge. To reverse the situation somehow, the authorities need to change the country’s socio-political climate. It is unlikely that the government can create positive social and economic changes, so it may well end up creating an extraordinary situation in order to reduce the intensity of protest passions. For example, last week the media was actively publishing footage of the movement of military equipment in various parts of the country. Surprisingly, they were even commented on by the Ministry of Defense, which only stirred up public interest. The impression is that the society is once again being gradually put under the pressure of militarist propaganda by fostering fears and anxious expectations. This will inevitably lead to a decrease in the political activity of the population, which is concerned about basic security issues, but not about the political situation in Chisinau. Suddenly, our authorities received support from Kyiv. For some reason, Ukraine’s representatives have reminded Chisinau again about the danger from the Transdniestrian region, which is out of control and in which Moscow’s interests are centered. Besides, the Ukrainian press has spread the word that at the end of the war with Russia, Ukraine is likely to carry out a joint military operation with the national army to cleanse the left bank of the Dniester from the presence of Russian forces. Moreover, there are reports from our officials that Chisinau has recently responded to repeated proposals to launch a political dialogue on the Transdniestrian settlement, but Tiraspol has sort of refused. The circumstances are interesting. One is tempted to ask: what will follow? Does this refusal to negotiate somehow give us a free hand to apply a different scenario? I still want to believe that common sense has not left the minds of our politicians and the various strategists and advisers hidden from the public eye, and that the videos of fights with guards in the security zone that have appeared online are merely a coincidence. If our rulers have been led to believe that it is possible to shake up the internal situation and temper the protest fervor of citizens through micro-conflict, this is a big mistake. Politicians must not play with fire. The regional situation is so inflammable that it will not be easy to set fires in a controlled manner and quickly contain them. All the more so because there are plenty of forces interested in destabilizing our country, both within it and abroad.