Concentrating all the power in the hands of Maia Sandu and the PAS was the logical result of years of work by the West to draw Moldova into the orbit of its own geopolitical influence. However, the fellows of American and British educational programs, obviously, fail to manage the state – and, failing to justify the trust, they risk to go out under the pressure of those who originally promoted their rise to power
The 2021 parliamentary elections ended with a convincing victory for the Action and Solidarity Party, largely due to the consolidation of the pro-European electorate around the pro-Western figure of President Maia Sandu. For the first time since the long and relatively stable socio-economic rule of the PCRM, the country had an undeniable majority party in parliament, which appointed its own speaker and government. And the higher authorities cooperate with the president by default, rather than keeping him in the role of acting president for months or removing him to sign the necessary laws, as was the case in previous years.
The West has solved the problem of gaining total control over the decision-making in Moldova, and at the most optimal moment from a geopolitical point of view – on the eve of the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine. The current authorities provide a reliable rear on the southwestern borders of Ukraine and at the same time create the maximum number of diplomatic, logistical and information problems for Moscow, which has to peripherally consider the interests of the stranded pro-Russian Transdniestria.
The current political elite is stubbornly working off the Western narrative of the conflict in Ukraine and seeks to do away with any elements of Moscow’s influence. Anything the Kremlin cares about on the banks of the Dniester and Prut rivers is in limbo and subject to constant obstruction by the ruling regime. Ideas about abandoning the neutrality prescribed by the Constitution and analyzing the possibility of joining NATO are planted in the media. At the same time, criticism of the peacekeeping mission in the Security Zone increased, demanding that it be transformed and that Russian troops and weapons be withdrawn from the territory on the left bank.
Moldova has already become a candidate country for accession to the European Union, which is accompanied by talk about ending its participation in the CIS structures. Officials in charge cheerfully report on gaining gas independence from the Kremlin, on reorienting exports to EU countries, on cancelling direct air links with Russia, and on the fact that the country does not really need Russian investments. At the same time, a tough strategy is being implemented in the Transdniestrian settlement, which is stressing Moscow out. Television channels with Russian content have been stopped broadcasting, and opposition parties have been constantly attacked with accusations of ties to Moscow.
The collective West can make no special ideological claims against our leadership – the measures taken, often to the country’s disadvantage, to combat Russian influence are unprecedented and will have an undoubted long-term effect. The Russophobia of the current authorities is not something new and exceptional – a kind of “post-story of success”, but still, for the first time, even with such important external signs for the Kremlin, it reaches almost “Baltic” or “Polish” intensity.
The problem, however, is that the Anglo-Saxon trainees are categorically failing in the direct administration of the state. There is catastrophic inflation in the country, the depth of the demographic gap and the personnel shortage has reached colossal levels. Moreover, Maia Sandu and the PAS party were unable to competently understand the situation and to take measures even to eliminate intra-elite contradictions. The reshuffle of the government was purely cosmetic and only exacerbated the distrust between the people and the government, since after minimal changes, the new Minister of Economy Dumitru Alaiba took over the media with his very controversial figure. Such changes obviously do not solve any problems, and the authorities are incapable of taking more serious measures, even at the behest of the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau (which is why Dorin Recean continues to occupy non-public positions). The justice reform, which is so important for the fulfillment of obligations to the European Union, has once again failed miserably.
Blatant incompetence and indifference of the authorities to the requirements of the law and public expectations invigorates Moldovan politics in a paradoxical way. Despite the fact that socialists and communists, potentially the most influential bloc in the opposition camp, are stuck in an internal squabble, frustrated by leadership struggles and attempts to organize their own political projects, a solid front to the ruling regime is gradually emerging. The Shor party, that has long made efforts to undermine the PAS rule, is added by such politicians as Igor Dodon, Renato Usatii, Vlad Filat, Veaceslav Platon. Each of them has their own motives and bosses, but we must admit that only the lazy doesn’t criticize the current government.
For example, ex-Prime Minister Vlad Filat, in whose government Maia Sandu served as Minister of Education, recently gave a very resonant interview. The current speaker, Igor Grosu, was her state secretary in the same ministry. Given their liberal-democratic past and Vlad Filat’s eventual release, such criticism is more than eloquent. Ala Nemerenco was labeled as “minister of war, not health care”, Dumitru Alaiba as “advisor to his relative”, Moldova as a de facto country without an EU candidate status. He slammed the authorities for double standards and energy contracts, for having no team to negotiate EU membership, for the inept use of donor and credit resources, pressure and intimidation of fellow party members on the ground, and for a year-and-a-half-long functioning of an emergency commission.
Vlad Filat’s main summary is that Maia Sandu and the PAS party are not irreplaceable – if they leave, no disaster or a pro-Russian revenge will occur: “Leaders, more prominent ones, came and left, but life continued, the country developed, in many cases even better.”
Such a critical interview, without cuts, is far from being just the speech of an offended person. On the contrary, it is a prologue to an entry into politics, apparently with the approval of certain circles among Moldova’s Western patrons.
The government and the PAS party fulfil a purely utilitarian task and will probably be replaced or mixed in the upcoming parliamentary elections, or even earlier. The west is already busy prepping the alternatives and restoring elements of a competitive intra-political process. Renato Usatii and Veaceslav Platon re-entering the political field is a phenomenon of the same order.
The only thing left is to figure out when time will come for one of the previously influential democrats and whether it will be Plahotniuc himself or someone from his team. One way or another, the incumbent government is about to be blamed for everything, and this will certainly minimize PAS’s electoral prospects. It is not for nothing that even Dumitru Alaiba, one of the few whose rating is even lower than that of the ruling party, never received his party card. In fact, even he doesn’t want to be in the same boat with the ruling party and bear responsibility.