A string of scandals around anti-corruption bodies in recent weeks can be seen as a symbol of utter disaster that befell the ruling party in its fight against corruption in the country. More than that, the failure is so obvious that even loyal foreign partners cannot ignore it anymore
Semyon ALBU, RTA:
Old interviews with Maia Sandu when she won the presidential elections and when PAS came out victorious in the early parliamentary elections, move to tears. So many good and wise words were told! And so noble was the main leitmotif – to struggle mercilessly against corruption and corrupt clans, to cleanse the state system completely, especially in the justice sector.
It must be said that highlighting rampant bribery as the root of most problems is generally correct. For our small country, corruption has long been a chronic, almost incurable disease, a heavy stone that pulls it down literally every day. People are well aware of this, and many in 2020-2021 believed that Sandu and PAS will be the ones who can overcome this eternal ailment. After all, who else but them can could do the job, who were showered with pleasantries from Western capitals and who were well received by the most reputable and trustworthy white people. And everyone has forgotten that the same enthusiastic hymns were once sung to those who plundered the billion...
As a result, our naive people put their trust in this new gang of European integrationists, even more unprincipled and incompetent than their ideological predecessors. Should we now be surprised that the result was a bit predictable? Yes, no one expected that even major corruption in the country could be beaten in a few years. It’s a fancy, no matter what the election programs promised. But still, two years have passed. The PAS has a mono-majority in the parliament, a cabinet formed single-handedly and already once reshuffled, and an endlessly prolonged state of emergency, at the very least. These tools of power were more than enough to lay the basis for an anti-corruption system, even in such a relatively short period of time.
The result is a complete disaster. Corruption in the country thrives, perhaps even more than before. Tens of millions of dollars leak out of the pockets of our citizens into the offshore accounts of corrupt officials and their accomplices. The scale of embezzlement from energy schemes alone is hard to imagine. Under the current regime, not only has the situation not improved, it has plunged into the abyss.
The situation is so bad that even Western partners loyal to the current authorities have allowed influential media and organizations to start their campaign of criticism. For example, PAS and Sandu were reprimanded by the American organization Freedom House, which is largely funded by the US government and analyses the situation of democracy and freedom globally. According to its experts, in Moldova these indicators are in danger. In the conclusions of the report that appeared in May, there are interesting things that the pro-government press cannot report about in Moldova. For instance, the government’s tweaked competition for the position of the head of the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office Veronica Dragalin, the authoritarian governance model and the suppression of independent media.
However, the main point is that corruption is still widespread, the so-called reforms have not brought any results, and the fight against corruption has turned into a tool to put pressure on undesirable opposition members.
It should be noted, this is a quite precise assessment, and this government does not deserve any other. Moreover, I claim that the PAS is absolutely impotent to counter corruption because its methods of “struggle” are totally inadequate and can only lead to the opposite result.
In this regard, the current scandals that are shaking up the anticorruption bodies, the inter-agency confrontation, through which we find out a lot of insider information about corruption within the very institutions that are supposed to counter it, are very telling. My colleagues are right to write
that it is primarily a reflection of inner conflict within PAS. However, all these conflicts are also a direct consequence of the flawed policies of the ruling party, which cannot be saved merely by the discharge of “honest” prosecutors from across the ocean. Moreover, they turn out to be not ready, neither professionally nor psycho-emotionally, for work in severe Moldavian realities.
The main problem is that the authorities are sure that it is possible and even necessary to break the law for the sake of good, as it seems to them, purposes, in order to speed up the always stalling reforms. Nevertheless, by trampling democratic principles here and there, you will in any case create a system whose corrupt nature will be undeniable. The second fundamentally flawed idea is to grab more powers and organs first, and then to get down to business... That is why everyone is concerned about expanding their competencies - SIS, Dragalin, NAC. That is why it is so important for the government to infiltrate its people into key structures - the Attorney General’s Office, the Supreme Judicial Chamber, the Supreme Judicial Council, etc. This is where all these internal squabbles come from, with PAS appointees sharing influence, power and passing the buck on each other.
But this is not the only issue. After all, excessive powers, lack of public control, and ignoring the opposition only provoke a sense of impunity and, as a result, lawlessness.
What is more, the authorities declared all their team to be “good, non-corrupt” people, putting them behind the fight against corruption. The bottom line is that Spinu’s schemes are not corruption, a bribe to Deputy Dragalin isn’t either. That reminds me of something. But, using the methods and people of Plahotniuc, which came so opportunely in the era of “good times”, should we be surprised at the deplorable results and unflattering assessments from across the ocean?
But the government continues to follow the quantitative rather than qualitative path, and now a new super-weapon in the fight against corruption is the creation of the Anti-Corruption Court with super-authorities. Considering that this idea is personally supported by the president, it is a done deal. The court will be staffed by the right people at the suggestion of SCM, which had been so conveniently cleaned up and filled with exclusively “good” people through the prevetting before. And its purpose is to investigate the facts of big corruption, which, without a shadow of a doubt, will always be found exactly where there are dissatisfied with the regime’s policies. Oh, my gut tells me something is going to happen...
In general, I repeat, there can be no real success in eradicating corruption under PAS a priori. And not because we have such an unreformable country, but primarily because good people turned out to be not quite good, or more precisely, not good at all. And as long as they dominate the upper echelons of power, the cleansing of Moldova from corruption remains an unattainable dream.