“Downfall of Sandu and PAS”: Is a New U.S. Ambassador Coming to Save the Day?

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Victor ENI
The smooth electoral victory of Maia Sandu and the Action and Solidarity Party a few years ago was largely due to the actions of U.S. Ambassador Dereck Hogan. Now, amid the almost imminent downfall of the “yellow regime”, Washington is again sending a high-profile diplomat to prevent a revenge by opposition groups   
As we expected, the onset of spring has galvanized political life, and all the plans prepared against PAS are called into play one after another. Nevertheless, the ruling party itself does a good job of providing reasons for endless criticism and accusations of inept state management, getting involved in one clamorous scandal after another. The pressure on the opposition and public opinion leaders is becoming more and more evident, while justifications by the “mindless mouthpieces on the payroll” of the ruling regime are becoming less and less convincing and only irritate the population. The anti-regime flywheel is gradually gaining momentum, and there is a major feeling that the current authorities are unlikely to find the strength to reverse the situation. After all, they have neither a reserve of human resources, nor much experience in political struggle, nor the most important thing – an understanding of how to administer the growing internal political crisis. The first heavy blow is likely to be the collapse of the justice reform broadly hyped in recent years. The supranational mechanism that PAS was trying to put in place appears to have bumped up against local judicial and prosecutorial clans. They are certainly not going to simply give up their positions and move into full submission to the authorities and international partners of Moldova, who need total control over the entire state system. No wonder all last week was full of scandals related to this “reform”. The resigned anticorruption prosecutor Victoria Furtuna said at a press conference that Vetting and Pre-Vetting was a failure from the very beginning, warning the authorities that the prosecution system is heading for a total collapse and several high-profile resignations are possible in the near future. That the former head of the legal commission, Olesea Stamate, refused to vote in favor of lifting the immunity of Sor’s closest associate, MP Marina Tauber, was an obvious sign of deepening internal contradictions within the ruling party. As a result, Stamate herself and her father were harassed by street activists close to the government, most likely to force her to surrender her mandate and party ticket. Another significant point is that a whole range of once PAS-leaning journalists are gradually leaving the pro-government TV channels in search of additional profit and more interesting interlocutors, such as Veaceslav Platon. It is unlikely that journalists with impeccable “pro-European reputation” would dare to take such a sharp turn in their professional careers if they were not sure that the Moldovan authorities wouldn’t last long as they are. Prime Minister Dorin Recean had a chance to rectify the fragile situation when he gave a report on the government’s activities in 2023 in Parliament last week. However, “the emperor was wearing no clothes” – the report was so poor and empty that the prime minister was at risk of becoming a punching bag for opposition MPs. Yet, Recean and his ministers left the parliamentary hall in time, depriving the opposition of a chance to properly comment on the real “results” of the Cabinet’s work. Without considering this as a sensation, however, we cannot ignore the words voiced from the parliamentary rostrum about the forthcoming resignation of the government and Recean’s replacement. This is in fact a fairly logical decision given the need to let off steam of social discontent in the run-up to the presidential election. Political technologists who thoroughly shield Maia Sandu from any media blows are now struggling to keep her away of a situation that is rapidly going down the tubes. This past weekend, the head of state was once again in the center of the prize money scandal, and even the instant announcement that it would be donated to charity didn’t help much. It was not Sandu’s philanthropy but the growing number of dubious monetary incentives for the president that drew much more attention. Meanwhile, the most irritating thing for free-thinking experts and residents of our country is the cynicism with which Sandu tries to pretend as if nothing is happening and she bears no personal responsibility for domestic situation. The head of state is confidently riding on the idea of the European integration referendum, with blinders and earmuffs on, and her press conference today proves that. The focus solely on her election campaign, coupled with brazen and arrogant attempts of the election headquarters to propel Sandu to a second term at all costs, may eventually play a cruel joke on her. The situation in Moldova is definitely not in line with the plan that Western capitals would like to see. Special people in key embassies are carefully monitoring our internal political situation and reporting on it where needed with appropriate, including personnel-related, proposals. And if there is still someone on the sidelines of the parliament, the presidency or the government who seriously believes that everything is under control and, no matter what, the levers of power will be kept in their hands, it is, to put it mildly, a big delusion. The vivid example that Washington is on alert is the news that a new candidate, Kelly Adams-Smith, has been proposed for the post of U.S. ambassador to Moldova. While incumbent Ambassador Kent Logsdon appears to be forced to end his mandate earlier, having served in our country for about two years only. Kelly Adams-Smith currently holds the position of Deputy Chief of the U.S. Mission to the European Union. Prior to arriving in Brussels, she served as Senior National Security Coordinator in the office of Vice President Kamala Harris. She was also Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Prague and Chief of the Economic Affairs at the Embassy in London. Her professional career also included positions as a diplomat in Bulgaria, Estonia and Russia. As it is known, the still acting Ambassador Logsdon inherited Moldova from his more talented and charismatic predecessor, Dereck Hogan, who successfully bolstered U.S. position in our country as much as possible by ensuring the triumphant electoral victory of Maia Sandu and the Party of Action and Solidarity. Today, however, the possible downfall of the “yellow regime” forces Washington to be proactive and send a high-profile ambassador in order to prevent the revenge of “pro-Russian” groups and, most likely, to accompany the transition of power from PAS to other pro-Western political projects.