Moldova Being Turned into a Totalitarian Enclave

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By all key parameters, the current political regime in the country has practically crossed the line beyond which there is almost classic totalitarianism  
Semyon ALBU, RTA: By de facto eliminating a whole bunch of opposition TV channels, the government has crossed another Rubicon in its crackdown on democracy in the country. As far back as last year, and throughout this year, my colleagues and I repeatedly warned that all this would happen – “muting all undesirable voices”, and the political crackdown on the opposition, and the plague of the entire state system by the ruling party. I don’t think it is appropriate to draw parallels between the regimes of Plahotniuc and PAS from now on, because it would be a very big compliment for the latter. All sins of Moldova’s former “master” look pale against what the President and her clique do. And the worst thing is that unlike the same “reign” of the puppeteer, the current lawlessness is happening with thundering applause from the West. When Maia Sandu receives awards in the U.S. for her “contribution to democracy”, I don’t know how to interpret it: as a bad joke, cruel mockery, or subtle trolling? As a result, in just a year and a half we shifted from a group of countries with weak democracy straight into totalitarianism, compared to which Plahotniuc’s authoritarian style still seems quite democratic. And I don’t exaggerate or dramatize a bit. It is enough just to look at the main characteristics that are usually attributed to totalitarian regimes, and we will see that almost all of them are reflected in the current regime. The first is, of course, the presence of a comprehensive ideology, which in our country is European integration. And there is no such nastiness that our government would not be prepared to commit under the guise of joining the “European family”. Under that banner, there was a state takeover, an energy crisis and, subsequently, a socio-economic crisis. People are literally served with “tomorrows” and promises of a better life sometime later in the EU. Just like in the USSR they were talking about the imminent advent of communism. The next point is having a single party intertwined with the state apparatus. I think there is no need to comment here. Since the middle of last year, there is no real opposition as such in the country, it is simply removed from any levers of power. The highest posts are in the hands of the PAS. Other factions have been deprived of the right to vote and turned into a useless sham, and once their parties are banned they will disappear altogether. The “yellow commissioners” occupy key positions in state institutions, cementing the regime. Another characteristic of totalitarian rule is the suppression of dissent and subjugation of the media. Here, too, we can see exactly how our reality plays out. The crackdown on the information field, with the final touch being the suspension of licenses for six TV channels, had been in preparation almost from the very first weeks that PAS came to power. We published many articles on this: how the public broadcaster Teleradio-Moldova was reassigned to Parliament, how the Broadcasting Coordinating Council came under political control, and how its head was Liliana Vitu-Eşanu, a protégé of the ruling party. The same one that now justifies the closure of opposition channels by saying that they “promoted war through silence”. The rampant propaganda is further evidence that democracy in the country is gone. Now everything is seen from one perspective only, be it domestic developments, international politics, and the war in Ukraine. Anything that ran counter was previously penalized non-stop, but now, as we can see, is simply eliminated. The formally independent media is strictly barred from crossing the lines, and therefore the largest leak of government officials’ correspondence with tons of evidence of legal violations was of zero interest to the pocket journalists. While all the media in a proper democratic country would have for weeks exploited such a fertile material for their breaking news. Repressions and terror by security forces are not yet at their peak, but it is only a matter of time. Attempts to that end are being made, with those who disagree being intimidated. Otherwise, how else can one interpret the sudden “drills” of the police special forces in hotbeds of discontent, or the demonstrative masked raids on disloyal officials, as was the case with the former prosecutor general Alexandr Stoianoglo? Moreover, even at this stage the authorities had no scruple in brutally dispersing protesters in the capital, something no previous regime ever dared. So, one can only imagine what level of freedom awaits us in the not-too-distant future. This also includes a bunch of repressive “protective” laws and measures that plunge the country into “endless state of emergency”, legitimize politically motivated sanctions against their own citizens, and establish control over the CEC, and also extend the powers of the Security and Intelligence Service to the point where it would get the right to read personal correspondence of citizens without court authorisation and without the need for a criminal case, as well as to unlimited wiretapping and surveillance, including with the use of special means. A sort of KGB or Stasi in a mini-version. As for the administrative control of the justice system, so much has been written by my colleagues that there is no point to repeat that again. It is enough to read Justice Minister Sergiu Litvinenco’s correspondence to understand how “thriving” the sector has become during the “good times”. The overall political transformations in our country are curious and remarkable in their own way. The only thing is that it is not very clear what to do about it. The screws are tightened even further with each passing week, and the opposition has neither strength, nor will or spirit to withstand. Sor’s feeble autumn protests have all but subsided, others daren’t take to the streets preferring to lay low in a hope they might get lucky and not be put behind the bars by the ruling party in a trumped-up case. And, most importantly, the Western partners are pleased with the current situation – perhaps it makes it easier for them to keep Moldova in their sphere of influence at this point. Probably, our government will be challenged one day, but if not, what can we expect then?