The authorities, notorious for their authoritarian ways, have so far been very soft on protesters in the capital. Why?
Serghei ISAENCO, RTA:
Today the world will pass another waymark in the process of global reshaping. With each such mark, the future becomes less and less predictable. In Moldova, where the bloodiest conflict since World War II is taking place near its borders, it is felt especially well. Take, for example, the gas issue, which is still in limbo, although there is less than a day before the “hour X”. So for us today is also, in a sense, a landmark day, because the policy of the authorities has led to a real risk of being deprived of Russian gas supplies on the eve of the cold season.
The number two topic in the country is the protests in the capital. The tent camp set up on the Great National Assembly Square has no intention of going away. Its “dwellers”, as well as all the supporters, try to gather near the administrative buildings, especially the presidency, and chant slogans demanding the resignation of Maia Sandu and early elections, even on weekdays. Today, the demonstrators tried once again to penetrate the yard of the presidential building to question the EU envoy who had arrived with another useless “courtesy visit”. However, without much success. And at the weekend there will be another round of “national protest” and an attempt to gather in the main square of the republic the 50-100 thousand people sought by Ilan Sor.
At first glance, the party of the Orhei businessman seems to be doing everything right, by the handbook. The party gathers an impressive crowd, and the photos from the rallies are beautiful and colorful. For the organizers and sponsors to report to – that’s good. There is something disconcerting about all this action, however, and fake notes can be sensed, as though a play is being staged for a script that has been approved in advance – including by the authorities.
Look how it all started. The first serious attempt to mobilize people for a protest was back in June. At that time, we managed to gather a fairly impressive crowd in the center of Chisinau, but it was done by deception – many people were going to a Russian pop-concert, which in the end never happened. This circumstance was then disseminated in all the media, and the protest itself faded into the background and generally went out with a whimper. Already at that time, suspicions arose that this whole show was staged in tacit tandem with the ruling party.
This month, the people’s demonstrations were launched in a mature manner, which must be seen in their persistent character. The slogans are clear, the numbers are large, although far from the claimed forty thousand. But still there are too many questions. Why did they start in September, and not later, when people feel the full brunt of the “good times” and the cold and need without any additional payment will push them out into the street in a desperate attempt to change something? Why was it so easy to give the Sor party the central square for protests, essentially allowing it to be booked on a long-term basis? Why are the authorities, notorious for their authoritarian tendencies, so soft on protesters and not making any serious attempt to scatter the “tent-town”?
In my opinion, even if we are not talking about a straightforward deal on some level between the ruling party and its colleagues from the Sor party, right now the protests of the latter are completely in tune with the ruling majority’s interests. Judge for yourself. No matter how sweet Ilan Sor’s speeches are, and no matter how much people blame the Action and Solidarity Party and Maia Sandu personally, for the majority of people Sor is still an adventurer, Plahotniuc’s accomplice, a figure in the biggest bank fraud in the country’s history. Such politician a priori can’t pretend to express the interests of the people, at most – of its separate part, ready to believe the frank populist. But the share of such people, as the political practice of European countries shows, is usually not so large, albeit with exceptions.
So Sor’s protests can’t really pose any threat. With such a track record, his party will never gain external legitimacy, at least not in the West, which, in our reality, is a vital “detail” for any force that claims to be serious. Besides, there is little chance of uniting with their other colleagues from the opposition camp. No one wants to get their hands dirty cooperating with such an unscrupulous politician, especially when there is still doubt about his real motives. Maybe that is why Sor is still protesting alone.
That the protests began so early is also a curious fact. Could this be a false start, especially a premeditated one? Another point is that they are harmless, which is understandable – on the one hand, but on the other hand – this may eventually discourage the participants as soon as they begin to realize the futility of their actions. All endeavors might fail. Perhaps, the corridors of power are hoping for precisely this demoralizing effect, which is why they are doing nothing special about the protesters.
After all, the authorities have never been particularly ceremonious before, when it was necessary to impress “a yellow seal” on the next lever of power in the country or to eliminate a potential threat that can be dangerous to them. Need to detain the prosecutor general right before his press briefing? No problem. Need to arrest the ex-president and informal leader of the largest opposition party with growing ratings? No problem, either. But now they are so restrained…
Unfortunately, politics is almost always a pretty dirty business, and ours is not any better in this respect, rather the opposite. And the situation, when the loudest opposition force and the biggest protests in the country are part of the big game waged by the ruling party to retain power, should surprise no one. We do not know for certain whether there is indeed a direct deal between PAS and Sor, but we can say that the protests in this format and with such leaders are so far best suited for the ruling party, as they allow keeping the situation under control without much effort. At least, for now.