Airport Tragedy as a Catalyst for Internal Political Change

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The events at the capital’s airport are the result of a whole bunch of problems connected with the ruling party’s thoughtless actions, as well as with the overall crisis in the security sector. They require much more than just a “hot pursuit” investigation
The most high-profile crime of the past week, which the country experienced almost for the first time, may become a catalyst for certain internal political and personnel changes. It is already not the best time for Chisinau airport: many companies have left the Moldovan air transport market for a variety of reasons, and after this incident they will think twice whether returning to the capital’s airport is appropriate in the current circumstances. It is clearly visible to the naked eye that the authorities are confused by this unprecedented situation and are probably still trying to figure out how to act. The worst response would be to leave everything as it is, including retaining the responsible officials in their positions, and thus pretend that nothing serious has happened, that no one is to blame, and that the system of public safety does not need any rethinking. It is now, in fact, the moment of truth for the ruling group. Their specific decisions and actions will make it clear what really drives the Action and Solidarity Party: the lust for power or the ability to admit mistakes and dismiss team members and loyal high-ranking officials, despite the upcoming elections in the fall. It cannot be ruled out that the PAS may fail another stress test, and we will witness a new romp under the “party carpet”. Back in winter, the fragile balance was formed between the various inner-party clans who cling to their positions no matter what, and now it may once again be shattered by new centrifugal movements. So far, everything looks like an attempt to stem the tide of criticism and to employ anti-crisis tools to avert grave repercussions for the president, the government, and the law enforcement agencies. To that end, officials use some of their favorite bureaucratic responses, such as setting up a working group of experts to brainstorm for weeks on how to bring the much-needed security to the Chisinau airport. The tragedy that took place fell on a “fertile” socio-political field and from the very beginning received all kinds of interpretations and assessments: from a terrorist act, a hybrid war, a Russian troop from the Wagner Group up to an ISIS-trained terrorist. In fact, it does not matter and should not obscure the harsh reality and real reasons for the incident. Moreover, complete disorganization of operations, poor preparation and trivial negligence of the responsible officials in the law enforcement authorities, which ultimately, and most regrettably, led to the bloody drama were to blame. In addition, low qualifications, overconfidence, lack of experience, professional skills and any coordination between the various police and Special Forces units did not lead to the apprehension of the criminal for further investigation and judicial action, but in fact to his physical elimination. Alas, from the beginning many media and anonymous sources of information were tempted to politicize the incident. The most obvious sign of unhealthy state of our security structures was the throwing in of information about the offender’s nationality and citizenship, presumably to provoke further anger towards a particular category of citizens and country. Apparently, someone wanted to use one of the most tragic episodes in the country’s history to inflame the same russophobic sentiments. Such actions look as cynical as possible, confirming the fact that certain groups in our society, as well as the security structures, are in a deep professional and moral crisis. Crime, as we know, has no nationality and this dangerous phenomenon must be countered by professionalism and the ability to deal with any threat to people’s lives. Moreover, citizenship should not and cannot be a criterion for socio-political reaction. The incident at the airport personally damage the reputation of Prime Minister Dorin Recean who the President has personally entrusted with the supervision of a wide range of security and law enforcement matters. Despite full control over the various special forces and the MIA system, however, it became clear last week that there was no more order. The fact that Ana Revenco, the prime minister’s trusted political appointee, was on a business trip to Portugal for rather questionable purposes at the time of the incident further aggravates the situation. Let me recall you that the Interior Ministry decided to withdraw from most of the Commonwealth of Independent States agreements ahead of time, pompously announcing that further implementation of these documents made no practical sense. However, the airport incident vividly demonstrates the thoughtlessness of the hasty withdrawal from various CIS agreements and, above all, with regards to the interior ministry. Apparently, our law enforcement officers disempower themselves from an additional source of intelligence and therefore did not prepare for detention of a particularly dangerous criminal, but refused to let a citizen of Tajikistan enter the country based on a trivial category of high-risk states. Thus, because of the reckless exit from the CIS, we immediately got a big problem and saw a drop in the overall level of security. The level of threats to Moldova, including terrorist threats, has indeed increased in recent years and is likely to continue to do so amidst regional volatility and the situation in Ukraine. The central authorities should also take a closer look at what is happening in the Transnistrian region. There, as we know, strange events occur the second year in a row, which should be resolved to avoid further risks. In the meantime, there is a need for an in-depth analysis and appropriate conclusions hot on the trail. The performance of security system over thirty years and the initiatives we have seen in recent years show that reforms moved in a completely wrong direction. The fact that the tragedy did not happen before is just a sheer luck rather than the effectiveness of our internal security system.