Plahotniuc’s Comeback as a Result of PAS Governance

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Sergiu CEBAN
We cannot rule out the possibility that after an endless series of socio-economic crises, the political attitudes in society may swing in the most unexpected direction, up to and including a desire to return to the “master’s” strong hand
The energy crisis in the country is dragging on and becoming more and more unpredictable. Recent negotiations with Tiraspol representatives, judging by the statements of both parties, did not lead to accordance. As a result, Energocom began for the first time to buy the entire daily volume of electricity from Romania, and the Transdniestrian administration, in turn, demonstratively put the Steel Works into operation, thus indicating their unwillingness to save on gas. This prolonged walk on the edge fuels internal social instability, and with it anti-system forces interested in further increasing the discontent of the population. Although the opposition did not take any extraordinary actions last week, with the exception of regular marches through the capital and minor clashes with the police, the ranks of those who intend to seriously fight the current Moldovan government are growing wider every month. In this respect, perhaps the loudest event was the interview of the fugitive oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, who announced his return to Moldovan politics. He stated arrogantly that he had given his “successors”, including PAS, time to prove themselves, but their constant failures allegedly forced him to come out of the shadows. Plahotniuc unashamedly considers himself an anti-crisis politician, and therefore, it seems to him that his time has come. For this purpose, the former democrat leader intends to assemble his own team to return to power and demonstrate how to manage the country in crisis. Many experts admit that the “deep state” desperately resists the desire of young reformers from PAS to radically change the situation in justice, to destroy the corporate practices in the judicial and prosecutorial system, as well as among law enforcement officials of all stripes. So far, no one has noticed any tangible success, and the various departmental clans feel the weakness and helplessness of the current government. Therefore, they quite possibly can keep in mind the revenge of former influential politicians, headed by the grey cardinal. Such thoughts are suggested by the fact that absolutely all key figures from Plahotniuc’s former team remain at large, and criminal cases have not even been filed against most of them. Someone left, someone continues to fearlessly run business, and someone has found a place under the flag of the new authority. Regional officials, who for the most part represented the Democratic Party after the last local elections, remain loyal to their political preferences and have now received the long-awaited “signal of hope”. And just on Sunday, in a northern region of the country, the Democratic Party candidate beat his main rival from the ruling party in the mayoral election. The PAS also failed to extradite Plahotniuc, who is safely holed up somewhere in Turkey and continues his traditional “coordinating” activities. Nor can we rule out that the political mood in the society after an endless series of social and economic stresses can turn in the most unexpected direction, up to a desire to return to the “master’s” strong hand. We saw this already in the early 2000s, when, after ten years of uncertainty, the Communist Party returned to power. For the last years nobody has mentioned Plahotniuc in the sociological polls and the current (anti) rating of the disgraced politician is not known to the public at large. However, it is obvious that measurements have been taken anyway and Plahotniuc’s political campaign is seen by his advisors as a fully justified step. So far it looks as if Plahotniuc is challenging the current power, expecting to be compensated after the USA Ambassador to Moldova persuaded him to give up everything and go into the shade, giving in to a new cohort of politicians, headed by Maia Sandu, rushing into big politics. In reality, the oligarch’s test run could be explained by his wish to observe the reactions of Moldovan politicians, experts and opinion leaders in order to decide on the further strategy of involvement in political processes. It is remarkable that several days before the unexpected appearance of the former PDM leader, Washington had imposed personal sanctions on him and Ilan Sor. Ambassador Kent Doyle Logsdon personally announced the decision, speaking to the Moldovan press. It is also known that Plahotniuc is wanted, including by Russian law enforcement agencies. He is accused of international drug trafficking and attempted murder. Besides, the former leader of Moldavian democrats is one of the key persons involved in the money laundering case of the so called “Landromat” scheme. Of course, all the participants of the “Moldovan game” try in every way to distance themselves from such a toxic personality as Plahotniuc. However, paradoxically, such a contradictory character is convenient and even useful for both the anti-government camp and the authorities. Sor’s protest noticeably lacks the drive and the necessary conditioning for the authorities to really feel the threat of their possible displacement by force. Shor, for all his eccentricity, does not reach the image of a strong politician, while Plahotniuc can mobilize more desperate groups of citizens under his banner. For the authorities, Vladimir Plahotniuc’s return to the domestic political agenda is also beneficial in terms of mobilizing politicians, businesses and elites around the current regime. Besides, there is a real reason to say that the threat to the pro-European democratic course is still there, and Plahotniuc’s adepts are just waiting for their turn. This means that the only alternative to PAS is not the rotation of pro-European forces, but a return to the dark times of the PDM. It is hard to imagine that all this time Plahotniuc was not interested in Moldovan politics and gave himself completely to some creative craft. On the contrary, there are all reasons to believe that up to the early parliamentary elections last year he was in the game. The essence of this man is such that it is difficult to believe the idea that he has abandoned his ambitions, as well as the retribution for such a humiliating removal from the political Olympus of Moldova. In the near future, it will become clear how much influence the oligarch has and what leverage he has over the country’s political system. But the main conclusion or even “achievement” that can be attributed to the current government is that it has caused the oligarchic forces, who believed in their ability to win back their lost positions, to make a comeback.