“Straitjacket” for Moldovan Society

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Victor ENI
It seems that the ruling regime, which has brought the situation in the country to a critical point and is criticized daily, has found nothing better than to put a “muzzle” on all those who are undesirable and disgruntled
The census has almost hit the finish line: over two million citizens have already been surveyed. Recently, the first persons - Maia Sandu and Dorin Recean - have been involved in the campaign. The process itself is presented as something super important for the people and the country, although for many the meaning of the event is absolutely clear. In fact, it is an examination of a demographically ill state, and it is done for one purpose: to fine-tune the election campaigns of the ruling party. But why wait for the results of the census, when recently the National Bureau of Statistics presented disappointing figures. They show perfectly well that Moldova is ageing and dying out. In 2023, the number of deaths exceeded the number of births by almost 10 thousand people; a catastrophic figure for a small country like ours. And all this against the background of a continuing and even increasing outflow of population. Sometimes our officials boast of statistics, presenting them as the result of their “efficient” work, although in fact these figures hide a desperate situation. For example, we are told that Moldova has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe. Although everybody understands that nobody in our country goes to register for unemployment benefits, but gets a foreign passport, preferably Romanian, and leaves for Europe in search of a better life. And we are talking about the migration of the most active people aged 25-45, who take out or create families abroad and do not return home for permanent residence. Due to the “successful” management of our officials, not only the able-bodied population, but also solid investment projects are leaving our country. Japanese company Fujikura, which for many years has been engaged in the production of electrical wiring for the automotive sector, is leaving Moldova. The Coroplast plant from Causeni, built by a German investor, is also ceasing its activity and moving its production to Tunisia. It turns out, however humiliating it may sound, that even North African countries have already overtaken us in terms of investment attractiveness. But, thanks to German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius for the news, another batch of German Piranha APCs, logistics transport and individual air defense systems will be delivered to us. It must be assumed that that is how the first EU economy plans to improve the investment climate and increase Moldova’s attractiveness for German investors. What will the authorities do in this situation? Sound the alarm and put all their efforts to boosting the economy? No way. It is much easier to eliminate those who talk and point out the problems than to solve them. That is why parliamentarians from the ruling party have started to fight “traitors to the motherland” by approving in the second and final reading amendments to the Criminal Code. According to the authors’ plan, it is necessary to regulate the struggle against the so-called “treason in peacetime” by expanding the legal definition of the offence and the scope of its application (now it applies only in wartime). Thus, an additional type of “treason against the motherland” is introduced, consisting in assisting a foreign state, a foreign organization, an unspecified “unconstitutional entity” or their representatives in carrying out “hostile activities against state security”, including “through disinformation campaigns”. Both the amendments and the impressive speed of their adoption caused serious indignation among politicians and experts. Even the well-known Amnesty International brandished “yellow card” to the Moldovan MPs. According to the organization, the new definition of treason is vague and open to abuse, threatening the right to freedom of expression. And in general, it can be used to persecute political dissent and critical opinions under the pretext of countering “malicious foreign influence.” However, the disturbed comment of the Moldovan branch of Amnesty International may have been more for show, demonstrating the democratic nature of the lawmaking process in the country and the close public control. At the same time, it is indicative that all the others, including the specialized NGOs, remained dead silent. Apparently, they were “advised” to stay calm, so as not to cause problems for the authorities, and to wait for Maia Sandu’s decision. By the way, the President’s Office refrains from any assessments, referring to the fact that the head of state did not have time to familiarize with the new law. A roughly similar case happened last year, after parliament adopted amendments to the Criminal Code, which was dubbed the “law on separatism”. At that time there were penalties for creating an illegal information structure, calling for separatism, establishing and maintaining communication with a foreign state, a foreign organization or their representatives for espionage. But the problems of Transnistria and Gagauzia are of little concern to the general public, so this topic did not catch the eye, and the president signed the law without hesitation. However, a more detailed interpretation of “treason” may affect not only separatists. PAS deputies have gone so far in their reasoning that they intend to classify any disinformation as “treason” if it harms state security. It remains to be seen who will add the prefix “dis” to this or that information and on the basis of what criteria. After all, such a free interpretation of norms and concepts will allow any alternative opinion that does not coincide with the party’s general line to be labelled as an offence. The representatives of the current ruling group, as we can see, are resorting to more and more extravagant and repressive antics, confident of impunity and feeling the firm shoulder of key Western embassies. The impression is that from there they have received the go-ahead to apply maximum sanctions against undesired and dissenters, primarily against the opposition forces. I do not rule out that some of the “soft” oppositionists will be simply warned, while the unruliest will be punished in a showy manner and deprived of their citizenship. Expanding the range of repressive measures, the PAS, alas, does not take into account one thing: sooner or later, there will be a change of elites, the parliamentary corps and the country’s leadership will be renewed, but the previously adopted norms in the current legislation will remain. Individual officials, including ministers and deputy prime ministers, should not forget that they also face quite specific sentences not only for theft, but also for this exact “treason”. It seems that the ruling regime, which has long ago perched in its strange bubble, failing in its direct duties and receiving tons of criticism every day, has realized that it is unable to change anything. And it has found nothing better than to use the “best methods” of dictatorship and totalitarianism. Probably, political technologists told PAS that the best way to take control of the situation would be to put a “straitjacket” on public opinion. However, as the old saying goes, “you can’t stop people from talking”, so things will end sadly for Sandu and PAS in any case.