The Moldovan Opposition’s Comfortable Blinders

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Christian RUSSU The recent leaks of the government officials’ private messages were expected to be more extensively used in the political struggle. However, the aces are still kept up someone’s sleeve. What are the country’s main opposition forces preoccupied with and why is there little chance of rapid change of the party in power? In a previous article I wrote about the contradictory nature of the actions of parties offering us an alternative to the ruling regime. Not only can the opposition ask uncomfortable questions of the authorities, but citizens can also ask such questions of the opposition. And these are understandable questions. For example, why left opposition forces refuse unifying rhetoric and common actions. No one is saying that the Party of Socialists, Civic Congress, and Sor should sacrifice their party identity and lock their campaign materials with symbols and program in the closet. However, experts and ordinary citizens expected that the gift of recent leaks from the authorities’ telegram accounts would be used in the political struggle to its full potential. Opinion polls show serious distrust in the current government. The officials’ reasons for not responding to critical sentiments and inquiries from society are quite understandable: they simply ignore them, convinced of their impunity. However, the opposition’s refusal to hear and express the people’ s opinion can only be explained by comfortable “blinders”. “Sorers’” protest creativity The representatives of the Sor party changed tactics, abandoning the traditional weekend marches to march and protest in front of the Prosecutor General’s Office on Friday, November 18. Apparently, the party leadership decided to use the leaked facts of political corruption to put pressure on the Sandu regime's appointees, Head of the Prosecutor General’s Office Ion Munteanu and Head of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office Veronica Dragalin. Ilan Sor himself told the protesters about this via video link. The protesters displayed a poster in front of the office where Munteanu was sitting, demanding his resignation, and placed an improvised plywood figure of the prosecutor in a prison uniform with the inscription “Un PAS spre Puscarie” (“One step away from prison”). The success of the event can be measured by the police report on the arrest of 16 people. On November 23, protesters honored Veronica Dragalin with a flash mob in front of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, and the next day Sor party activists reported the event to parliament, calling for the resignation of Justice Minister Sergiu Litvinenco. The organizers and the police were better prepared for the November 28 protest. This resulted in the non-conflicting communication between law enforcement officers and protesters during the unblocking of street traffic for cars. There was more clarity in the further actions of the protesters after the video conference with the party leader, who indicated the goal of the protests – to remove the General Prosecutor’s Office and the Constitutional Court from Maia Sandu’s control by dismissing their leaders, and then to declare early elections. The return of representatives of the Bloc of Communists and Socialists, who for unknown reasons fell out of protest activity in the center of the capital for some time, added significance. The practical outcome of the protest was the filing of a complaint to the Prosecutor General’s Office demanding a criminal investigation into the fact that information about the illegal actions of high-ranking officials, including the Minister of Justice, appeared in the public space. Thus, the protesters decided to comply with all the formalities, taking into account Veronica Dragalin’s public statements that no one would read any correspondence on any website if there were no appeals from citizens. However, it is difficult to call all these creative activities impactful in pressuring the authorities. Even one bully in the person of civil activist Pavel Grigorciuc was able to cause more trouble. He managed to get the issue of the dismissal of Acting Prosecutor General Ion Munteanu put on the agenda of the meeting of the Supreme Council of Prosecutors and staged a performance in front of its participants on November 29. Sergiu Litvinenco and the board members from his leaked messages had to hastily resort to disrupting the meeting in order to prevent the shameful act. However, even the fleeing Sergiu Litvinenco was caught by Grigorciuc after the disrupted meeting and received a portion of unpleasant epithets and physical abuse on the air. It is noteworthy that Grigorciuc previously defended the interests of ex-Prosecutor General Alexander Stoianoglo, which again confirms that in fact only justice officials themselves are trying to defend themselves against the arbitrariness of the authorities, and the opposition does not pay any attention to it. Mark Tcaciuc is on a roll again After scandalous reports about Mark Tcaciuc ties with current authorities and the opposition Common Platform funded by the West, it turned out that none of the Civic Congress leaders is about to commit noble acts of political hara-kiri. Mark Tcaciuc did not deny his informal contacts with Maia Sandu’s advisors. On the contrary, after a short pause, by the example of the current authorities, he pretended that nothing had happened and that his image was not damaged. Moreover, on November 29, standing at the parliamentary rostrum with his head held high, he stated the intention to strongly oppose the attempts to usurp power. As before, the Civic Congress chose intellectual opposition at round tables, conferences, and expert hearings as its main tool of political struggle, and voiced its goal to prevent the adoption of the new draft of the Electoral Code and to criticize the reported plans to expand the powers of intelligence agencies in wiretapping, reading correspondence, surveillance and disclosure of personal data of citizens. While in parliament, the leader of a non-parliamentary party also replied to the widely asked question about protest participation. It turned out that the Civic Congress believes it is not necessary to bring people to the streets in the coming months, but instead is determined to fight in the next local elections. The legitimate winners, i.e. his supporters according to Tcaciuc’s version, are expected to stage a peaceful revolution. “You must agree that it is totally different when elected and authorized city and village councilors, mayors of villages and towns, supported by thousands of their voters, come to the central square of the capital from all over the country. It will be a plebiscite of confidence in the government. This will be a true, peaceful, non-violent, democratic revolution...,” Mr. Tcaciuc said. Mr. Dodon is reaching out to people After his release from house arrest, Igor Dodon is in no hurry to join an active political struggle and mobilize citizens for protests in the capital. Instead, he went on a tour of the regions in an unclear political status. He visits local markets, attends anniversaries of educational institutions and other events, telling citizens how difficult it is to fight for justice, mocking the incompetence of current officials and promising not to give up. As we can see, the opposition forces are scattered around the convenient locations, engaged in convenient activities that allow them to imitate a political struggle. In the coming months, our citizens will obviously have to accept there will be no breakthrough consolidation of the opposition and rapid change in the PAS government which has totally impoverished the population under the European integration slogan. This winter, we can only rely upon ourselves.