Opinion: “Snegur Is No More, but His Cause Will Live On”

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Christian RUSSU
The passing of the first President is likely to benefit the ruling regime, which will find a way to use his name in the new state mythology in favor of Maia Sandu and PAS
The day before yesterday, the first president of independent Moldova, Mircea Snegur, passed away at the age of 83. Because of this, tomorrow will be a day of mourning. In our country Mircea Snegur’s name often evokes contradictory assessments and opinions. In modern state mythology, he is described as the Moldovan “Lenin”, who made way from a rural laborer to the head of state to inspire thousands of Bessarabians to “fight for independence from Russia” and “return to the bosom of mother Romania”. His policies combined political romanticism and aggressive nationalism, built “flower bridges” across the Prut and stained the waters of the Dniester with blood. We made it to high international tribunes, while conducting behind-the-scenes negotiations with the separatists. Of course, Snegur’s anti-Romanian slogans when he was secretary of the CPSU district committee in the mid-eighties are not mentioned in school history books as well as his disagreements with the Popular Front’s leadership on the issue of unification with Romania. Many other controversial episodes in his biography are also omitted, while the official history of Snegur’s era has no mention of the most important thing – the unfulfilled dreams of the Moldovans for democracy and prosperity. In political circles, in turn, Snegur’s figure is associated with the loss of the war with Transnistria and capitulation to Moscow, which traumatized the national identity and determined the future of our country, depriving it of the courage to make decisions following the example of the Baltic States. The legacy of his presidency includes the compulsory alignment with Russian politics, infamous meetings with the Transnistrian leader Smirnov, the inability to quickly privatize all industrial assets, the severe economic recession, the creation of Moldovagaz, the Communist/Socialist revenge, the bowing to Putin. Whether things could have been different under the rule of another president is debatable. However, one way or another, history will remember that it was Snegur who could not withstand the pressure of circumstances. All these 30 years, a significant part of political elite and creative intelligentsia have been longing for the moment to turn this inglorious page of history. And the current situation obviously favors this. Thus, Maia Sandu no longer meets with the leadership from Moscow or shakes hands with the leaders of Tiraspol. She brings constitutional order in Gagauzia and the left bank, takes away the pipe from Gazprom, refuses Russian gas, expels Russian diplomats and journalists, invites NATO military – as if to show that, unlike Snegur, she “coped”. After the demise of the first president, it will be possible to talk about these achievements and parallels openly and loudly, helping the Moldovan political class to find closure, without fearing to offend the founding father. It seems that Maia Sandu’s candidacy for the next term will be supported by this idea. “She is the successor of Snegur’s deeds, who, unlike him, has succeeded.” The girl from a Moldovan village achieved the post of the country’s leader and high-profile international recognition. After Snegur’s “flower bridges”, real bridges are built across the Prut, over which lorries can drive freely. Officials on the banks of the Prut manage the gas pipe and the direction of flow in it. High-voltage power lines are being built to deprive Tiraspol of such a powerful instrument of influence and make it ask for access to European markets. The only thing left is to achieve complete “de-occupation” from the Russians and join the European Union. These are the key points of the upcoming election campaign. As cynical as it sounds, from the political marketing’s point of view, the deceased Mircea Snegur will be much more useful to the current authorities than when he was alive. He will be honored posthumously: a state award will be named after him, or a street in Chisinau, or maybe some large infrastructural facility, and a monument will be erected next to the statue of Stefan cel Mare. The only thing that will be useful to take from Mircea Snegur’s experience is the holding of non-alternative elections to ensure that PAS is guaranteed to remain in power. We cannot say that Maia Sandu will be a pioneer in this endeavor. It is rather a matter of copying the path of her former chief, PLDM leader Vlad Filat. The latter, after coming to power, paid active attention to symbols in the new mythology of the country: he removed the barbed wire from the western borders, opened the way for Romanian history and business, launching the process of abandoning the national identity of Moldovans. Later, as a thank you for the geopolitical U-turn, but, in fact, very much in advance, the country received a liberalized visa regime and a free trade zone. As Filat’s former partners in alliances for European integration admit today, Moldova was not ready for these gifts from the European Union ten years ago. That is why they failed to result in the developing democracy and growing prosperity of our citizens, for which Filat eventually paid the price. As we see, history repeats itself. And the current Sandu-led government l is making a geopolitical turnaround number 2, and just because of that the EU once again opens its door, not because of the merits in reforming the justice system, economic growth and democratic standards. Therefore, it is possible to predict both what the next generations of pro-European politicians will say and how satisfied our citizens will be with their well-being in the foreseeable future.