15 Years after the ‘Twitter Revolution’: Another Deadlock

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Victor ENI
Many parallels can be drawn between the two political regimes that ruled in Moldova in 2009 and today  
Yesterday, people recalled the events which happened in Chisinau 15 years ago. Politicians are actively exploiting this date, though without offering a clear definition or legal assessment of what was done by rioting youth groups. Many details are still missing, moreover, some participants of those protests entered the government. This is probably why the picture and the whole storyline cannot be fully revealed: both the main participants and, more importantly, the organizers of the mutiny remained in the shadows. As usual in such cases, one can only hope that one day historians will shed light on this period of Moldovan history. No matter how tragically and sympathetically representatives of the current political elite speak about this event, one way or another, Moldova is now governed in a similar way to what it was by early 2009. True, the communists were in power much longer, but PAS and Maia Sandu have caused the same fatigue and irritation among citizens in less than one four-year term. In fact, a strange-looking group of people, banded into one party pack, has been holding on to power very tightly for several years, profiting resources and committing outright lawlessness under benevolent slogans. Thanks to them Moldova is plunged into a rather deplorable state close to collapse. Meanwhile, the key Western capitals are shamefully silent, conniving with the ruling group in their reckless actions. The explanation for this is quite simple: it is necessary to keep Moldova under tight foreign policy control at all costs and prevent local elites from pursuing a more balanced, sovereign policy consistent with the regional setting. So, where are we 15 years later? The same rigid totalitarian system that massively restricts freedom of speech, cancels political parties, and applies all the favorite methods of “fighting” the undesirable, tested earlier by the PCRM and then by Vlad Plahotniuc. By and large, the big Moldovan politics has not undergone any serious substantive change: only the political design and face of the ruling group has changed. The socio-economic situation in the country is hardly fundamentally different from the way we lived in 2009, otherwise several hundred thousand people would not have left the country over the past decade and a half. At the same time, the current regime has “achieved” a precipitous drop in living standards precisely in the last three years. Many people still cannot understand what the PAS strategy was and what prevented the party from achieving its goals – the external environment or the extremely low professional competence of the party managers. What the PCRM and PAS regimes have in common is their ability to set up illegal schemes and provide political cover for them. Just as Voronin raised influential clans around him, so does Sandu. Everyone knows that the infamous oligarch Plahotniuc owes his political success to Voronin. And Andrei Spinu, whose permissiveness has reached enviable levels under the patronage of our prima donna, will be very grateful to Maia Sandu. In recent weeks, we have again seen a fuss between clans in a hurry to take favorable positions before the presidential election and to gather resources for Sandu’s victory. The favorite methods of knocking people out of office by sudden “masked” checks and corruption scandals are used, after which people loyal to Spinu will be put in the seats. While grossly profiting through dubious schemes, the ruling party has put its foreign policy affairs “in order”: in fact, it has burnt all bridges with Moscow, continuing to distance itself from the Russian market and the CIS as a whole. The main bet, of course, is on supplies from the European Union. But Brussels, having issued a certificate of a candidate country, is not in a hurry to help the same agrarians and unprotected segments of the population, but increasingly assists with the purchase of second-hand radars and other ammunition, which hardly compensates for high tariffs. The fact that the majority of the population supports the neutral status of the republic does not bother the ruling regime at all. On the contrary, it adheres another strategic course, which is why the Moldovan military have been travelling from one NATO drills to another almost every month for two years now. We cannot say for sure to what extent this boosts their combat motivation. But the fact that the number of exercises does not raise the mobilization spirit and optimism in the Moldovan society is certain. And this persistent imposition of senseless militarism on us will sooner or later have the opposite effect. The situation in Chisinau’s relations with Tiraspol and Comrat, which have never been simple, is also rather complicated. After 15 years, we can see that the deepening contradictions with the rebellious regions bring Moldova back to the starting point of 1991, when the left bank demanded a kind of economic autonomy for itself and tragedy struck as a result of uncompromising confrontation. Having failed to learn the historical lesson, three decades later Chisinau is doing everything to foster active growth of tensions again. Alarming signals are also coming from Gagauzia. Amid the deepening crisis between the central authorities and the autonomy, Chisinau has increasingly started to make statements about its intention to reduce the status competences of Comrat. In response to this, taking advantage of the Romanian prime minister’s unionist statements, Bashkan Evghenia Gutul hinted that any integration processes with Romania would immediately lead to the launch of Gagauzia’s secession as an independent state. There is a strong feeling that PAS deliberately “mines” various parts of the country, including the most dangerous ones, in order to plunge Moldova into deep chaos after the evacuation, when concrete names and criminal proceedings will no longer be of any importance. Obviously, the entire governing gang is unlikely to give up power so easily, and transition from power will be painful and accompanied by cataclysms similar to those of 7 April. Advisers from Sandu’s entourage are already hinting that they may take people to the streets in the event of “mass violations” that may lead to the defeat of the incumbent president. Attempts to play with people’s sentiments will end very badly. Perhaps 15 years ago someone staged protests just to give a scare, but instead stirred the whole country and provoked a full-fledged revolutionary rebellion, turmoil and unrest.