“Treasury for Profiteering”. Will PAS Buy Indulgence from Western Supervisors?

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Anton ŠVEC
Scathing criticism of the ruling party at home and abroad in the run-up to the presidential election pushes it into dubious deals with Western partners to retain its regime
Recent weeks have been marked by a number of news about the ruling regime’s dubious deals from financial point of view. Thus, for the first time in history, Moldova purchased American liquefied gas with delivery through the sea port of Alexandroupolis in Greece. Given the subsequent payment for its passage through Bulgaria and Romania, the current price situation on the gas market and the availability of reserves on the territory of Ukraine, the deal seems to be economically unjustified. Formally, its sole purpose was to test the logistics and demonstrate a strong negotiating posture for subsequent bargaining with Gazprom (scenarios of returning to the purchase of Russian gas via transit through Ukraine in May this year are being considered). At the same time, the current regime continues the LNG purchases from the USA only to show its absolute loyalty to the overseas masters and their goals of fighting Russia’s energy influence. The U.S. Embassy in Chisinau applauded the deal: “The United States congratulates the government and Energocom on the first purchase of U.S. liquefied natural gas... The United States continues to support Moldova’s efforts to release itself from energy blackmail and secure its path to a European future”. Even if the government and Moldovagaz JSC, whose management the Maia Sandu administration is not entirely satisfied with, decide to temporarily return to contracting with Gazprom to cover the needs of the right bank, the incumbent authorities will always be able to cite the successful experience of pro-American diversification. Another deal, the conclusion of which was only a matter of time after PAS came to power, concerns the sale of the territory of the Republican Stadium in Chisinau for the construction of a new US embassy complex. According to available information, Washington will buy a large plot in the center of the capital for just 15 million euros. The Chisinau City Hall has not yet announced its principled position, as Ion Ceban is not ready to quarrel with the Americans. Yet, the former president Igor Dodon priced the plot at 50 million euros, thrice as much, but quickly added that he understood the Americans. Through such a discount, the regime of Maia Sandu is obviously repaying its political debts to Washington for the support in the past and future elections. France has also repeatedly spoken in favor of the incumbent president and the PAS party, as well as Moldova’s EU membership prospects, although there were serious scandals around the French embassy building a few years ago. As compensation, we have given our territory to strengthen Paris’ intelligence capabilities in Eastern Europe (France sends its military attaché to Chisinau), we buy expensive French air defense radars, which do not actually enhance the security of the country’s airspace. Besides, the government wanted to virtually gift the French company with commercial space at Chisinau international airport. However, having encountered the resistance of the air harbor management (the former one) and the civil society, Andrei Spinu and his team decided to delay the tender and started searches. Yet, there is no doubt that in case of electoral success Maia Sandu will finalize the deal. The ruination of agriculture (the number of farms in the country has decreased fivefold in a few years), the degradation of local industry under the inadequate statements of minister Dumitru Alaiba, the closure and consolidation of health care and education institutions, the looting privatization and sale of ready assets is the standard liberal practice of any comprador elites who refuse to save only on foreign business trips. In the case of the PAS regime, the situation is aggravated by its complete subordination to Western curators, its corresponding obligations, including financial ones, and its extreme vulnerability to international criticism. Moreover, external support is the only source of legitimacy and political sustainability of the current government structure, which does not meet the needs of the country’s citizens. Meanwhile, criticism of certain actions of Maia Sandu and her entourage to usurp power is becoming increasingly pronounced, including from Western centers. Only in recent months the regime has faced divergent opinions at home and abroad for: - the refusal to include the Bashkan of Gagauzia, Evghenia Gutul, into the government, followed by attempts to initiate political criminal proceedings against her and Marina Tauber, one of the leaders of the banned SOR party; - illegal initiation of criminal proceedings against former Prosecutor General Alexandr Stoianoglo; - failures of justice reform and pressure on judges; - the usurpation of the CEC; - amendments to the Criminal Code criminalizing separatism and the establishment of illegal information structures, which the European Commission and the OSCE believe may lead to indiscriminate application of legislation and restriction of human rights; - plans to hold a referendum on European integration on the same day as the presidential election; - banning opposition parties and irrational amendments to the electoral code, including plans for dubious postal voting in the US and Canada; - shutdown of opposition TV channels and websites, crackdown on journalists; - restrictions on the legitimate activities of sociological services under growing disapproval rating of government representatives; - corruption in various economic spheres and political appointments. We can talk about “black spots” of the PAS regime endlessly. Systematic violations of the law and electoral promises lead to a sagging of even intra-party discipline. The most striking example is the withdrawal of ex-justice minister Olesea Stamate from Maia Sandu’s team. The current government is aware of the fact that it has virtually no support inside the country, but at the same time any protests and Maidan are absolutely doomed without Western participation and external legitimacy. Therefore, the main task of Maia Sandu for the period until the presidential elections and the referendum is to retain support or, at least, to buy an indulgence from the Western curators so that they continue to observe the processes in Moldova with tacit consent. For this purpose, the PAS regime will be ready to make any financial and political concessions to Brussels and Washington, including the distribution of Moldovan assets, exchanging the country’s future for the preservation of power here and now. The results of such a policy will be felt by our society for years to come, while Maia Sandu and her team continue to live in the hope that European integration or unirea with Romania will cancel all debts.