Scandals in Moldova as a Sign of the Growing Crisis in Governance

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Anton ŠVEC
Daily scandals in the country confirm that the current regime is less and less efficient in managing public and political processes
The widespread electoral processes as well as armed conflicts in various regions of the world provoke a governance crisis at the global level. This particularly affects states that are administered from outside by advisor’s dependent on the bureaucratic structures and attitudes of the European Union, the United States and Romania, where the milestone elections have completed recently or are yet to take place. The political season is coming to an end in Moldova (summer recess for MPs starts in July), and the subsequent conjuncture will be determined by the upcoming presidential elections and the European integration referendum. For many players, they are one of the decisive stages of preparation for the parliamentary campaign in the spring of 2025. Despite the paralysis of the opposition, unable to nominate a serious rival for Maia Sandu (Natalia Morari recently reported the failure of negotiations to identify a single candidate; former prime minister Ion Chicu has single-handedly announced plans to enter the race), the PAS regime is extremely anxious, and has to deal regularly with various scandals. The parliamentary majority and the government are losing their levers of control over the situation. And the problems are created not by the opposition or external instability, but rather by the personnel loyal to the ruling party, yet mired in corruption, bribery, violation of human rights and incapable of effective governance. Last week witnessed a continued public and rather unseemly stand-off with signs of bargaining between the PAS team and the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office. Leaders of the agency complained that it could not investigate criminal cases due to the lack of appropriate “logistical capacity” (the issue of the building is still in limbo) and the inability to control the appointment of prosecutors, continued to look for ways to evade the check of the Pre-Vetting Commission. In addition, the deputy head of the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office, Octavian Iachimovschi, hinted at the possibility of initiating a criminal case on the fact of tenders for the lease of commercial premises at the Chisinau airport. Attempts to organize the proper functioning of the airport, which was reverted to state ownership, are constantly failing. The situation is further aggravated by the filtration of citizens at the airport, who spend hours passing through control in conditions that do not meet the normative requirements. One of the charter flights was not allowed to land in Chisinau at all – the flight was sent to Bucharest because it was carrying Moldovan citizens returning home from Russia. Another story of infrastructure and unfair tender is the construction of the motorway to the Leova-Bumbata checkpoint, the cost of which is the subject of an ongoing public accusations between the regional authorities and the government, in particular the Minister of Infrastructure, Andrei Spinu. Having failed to solve this problematic dossier, the most toxic representative of Maia Sandu’s entourage risks getting involved in a new scandal with the construction of a road to the bridge over the Dniester River on the border with Ukraine, right through the village of Cosauti. Residents are already wary of heavy goods vehicle traffic within the community. The authorities are also failing with the management of railways; the employees of the Moldova railway were paid their February salaries early this month, but not in full. Amid constant reports of abuse of power, bribery and corruption in the police, in ministries, in regional social institutions, foreign investors continue to flee the country. Following the Japanese company Fujikura, last week the British financial and technical service Revolut, which appeared in Moldova a year ago to the cheers of the authorities, announced that it is leaving the Moldovan market. Foreign investments are also declining in agriculture and light industry, as the government is unable to guarantee an appropriate business climate and return on investment. Neither the expulsion of the opposition from parliament nor any other “witch-hunt” activities contribute to a better image of Moldova. On the contrary, human rights violations under the guise of fighting Russian influence are often negatively assessed by international organizations and even local NGOs. This becomes an additional blow to the investment climate in the country, especially amid growing political and economic contradictions with the Gagauz autonomy and the Transnistrian region. Meanwhile, the scandalous nature of the ruling regime manifests itself in the actions of individual officials. This week, Oazu Nantoi, a member of the ruling party, made high-profile statements in a “hate speech” style. The former whistleblower of the USSR KGB, who has now temporarily switched to an ardent anti-Russian stance, made unflattering statements about the artists of the Joc dance group, who performed at the international economic forum in St. Petersburg (by the way, the head of the group was suspended from work, but PAS certainly has a candidate to replace her in this honorable position). Nantoi refused to apologize for his misogynistic and Russophobic remarks, which provoked criticism from the opposition and typical silence of PAS and its NGOs. With its habit to blame any excesses on external factors and goals of European integration, the incumbent regime will undoubtedly drift further away from the needs of the people, demonstrating arrogance and tendency to conflict. Of course, as long as its patrons remain loyal. And no election will change that, especially if it does not result in victory.