Opinion: PAS Plants a Mine under the Country’s Democratic Future

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Semyon ALBU
In its fervor against “fifth columnists” and “Russian agents”, the ruling party is creating such handy tools for authoritarian control of the country that they will be difficult for any political forces that will succeed the PAS to abandon
The country’s leadership, which wants to join the European Union as soon as possible, must work on strengthening its own democratic institutions as a matter of priority. However, our rulers, apart from endless empty words, do not show themselves in this field. In the democracy index we have not advanced in a year of undivided PAS government – we have the same 69th place in the group of “imperfect democracies”. And, you know, this is still a very far-fetched assessment. After all, the current regime cannot even be called democratic even with exaggerated efforts. We have long seen how Maia Sandu and the PAS are using the war in Ukraine and the general instability in the region to “tighten the screws” and fight against the “enemies of the state”. Which, by a strange coincidence, turn out to be all those who disagree with the course of the current government. I have written more than once or twice about the construction of an authoritarian model of government in the republic. And I said that the further it goes the more the mono-majority party will revel in its power, permissiveness under the wing of western handlers and full carte blanche for sweeping the center-left opposition. The list of PAS actions in domestic politics is in fact a chronicle of the destruction of Moldovan democracy. See for yourselves: – the scandalous arrest of Prosecutor General Alexander Stoianoglo in a trumped-up and subsequently disintegrated criminal case. No charges were ever proven, the head of the PGO was simply removed out of hand to put “their own” man in this key institution; – cancellation of the election results in Balti. The candidate with the highest number of votes in the first round was forced out of the race due to a fictitious violation. Subsequently, Marina Tauber was also prosecuted – but, as in the case of Stoianoglo, unsuccessfully, once again confirming the political background of her case; – seizure of justice by electing the desired people through rigged contests, such as in the case of Veronica Dragalin, staffing the judiciary with loyalists, and blocking the work of those bodies that are not yet fully under their control. And all this within the framework of the notorious justice reform; – taking full control of the media space. Through the package of legislative amendments from PAS, the public broadcaster Teleradio-Moldova has been transferred to Parliament: MPs can not only approve its director general, but also dismiss him at any time. With the same amendments the authorities also brought the Teleradio Council under their control, which subsequently massively fined and then “shut down” the largest opposition TV stations altogether. At the same time, popular internet resources, Russian news programs, etc. were quietly blocked; – rule in an indefinite state of emergency, allowing uncontrolled and non-transparent expenditure of the state treasury and all manner of violations of the Constitution and existing legislation in making and implementing domestic political decisions; – submission of the CEC. Again as part of another European integration reform. The procedure of forming the commission was changed so as to exclude representatives of the opposition. So that only those who will pass the selection sieve of the current government will be in this most important state body as well. How very convenient; – introduction of electronic voting. They want to test it at the next municipal elections. One can only imagine the field of opportunities opened up by this system in a country where opposition media and parties have already been suppressed, and human rights defenders are in the government’s pocket; – forceful pressure on the opposition. The police dispersal of the tent city, which even Plahotniuc did not dare to do, intimidation actions like the unexpected police special forces exercise in Comrat, arrests of opposition leaders Marina Tauber and Igor Dodon, threats to protest organizers and participants, declared in advance as “accomplices of oligarchs” and “Kremlin agents”. That’s quite a list, and that’s only for a year and a half, and I’ve only mentioned the biggest and most important points. And the list of the crimes of the current regime would not even fit into a dozen volumes of the corresponding criminal case (which I believe will surely appear in the future). But this was only a prelude, and this year, as we can see, the state capture is accelerating. Thus, Parliament Speaker Igor Grosu already unashamedly calls the five most prominent representatives of the opposition – Igor Dodon, Ilan Shor, Ion Chicu, Ion Ceban and Irina Vlah – “a fifth column of Russia, receiving instructions from the Kremlin”. Such a stigma, coupled with Sandu’s statements about the planned coup d’état, probably marks a new stage in the establishment of dictatorship and the elimination of any dissent. Therefore, in the near future we can predict a harsh suppression of any mass protests that could really threaten the PAS authorities, a ban on non-Western and non-unionist opposition parties, increased censorship – especially since the authorities have already announced plans to get into even the Internet space with their state regulation. In addition, Sandu demanded an urgent strengthening of the powers of the ISS and prosecutor’s office: “The Moldovan parliament should adopt as soon as possible the bills that will provide the ISS and prosecutor’s office with the tools to better combat security risks for the country. All those who take part in these actions against Moldova – external elements, members of political parties and criminal groups and all those who protect them – must be held accountable”. All this, as you understand, to combat the Kremlin’s evil plans to destabilize Moldova. As a result, the Security and Information Service, subordinate to the President, will have truly limitless powers, not restricted even by the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens. For example, they will be able to wiretap telephone conversations, conduct personal surveillance, read personal correspondence – all without prosecutorial authorization or the need to have a criminal record on file. The result is a police state in which the security and law enforcement agencies are given carte blanche to deal with those undesirable to the ruling regime. Power has been given, so have the grounds for persecution in the form of changes in the criminal code. Have you come out to protest? It means that you are either a member of a conspiracy against Moldova or, God forbid, a separatist. In such a situation it will be very interesting to see the fate of the new protests that are due to start this Sunday. But the saddest thing about this situation is that the authoritarian regime created for the needs of the PAS with its punitive apparatus and dependent justice system is not only killing our democracy here and now, but also creating big problems for its revival in the future. It will be very tempting for the next leadership of the country, whatever it may be. And if their role is to be played by the current right-wing radicals like CUB, who seem to be nurtured as the heirs of PAS by western handlers, then they will be manna from heaven. Who knows, maybe all this is secretly being prepared for them. And then it will be possible to start a war, and organize a union, and send all the disgruntled to jail. And it will not be the worst option for the “troublemakers”. And meanwhile, the new prime minister, Dorin Recean, has been charged with continuing to destroy the remains of democracy in the country. He is a strongman himself, for which, in fact, he was put at the helm. The more so because it has already been announced that the security sector will be key for the new government. And this, as it is not difficult to guess, first of all means strengthening the fight against internal enemies, the circle of which has already been publicly defined.