Moldova’s Anti-Oligarch Uprising
BSSB.BE medium.com 24.05.2016
Bringing You Up To Speed:
- 20 January 2016 saw protests turn violent when hundreds stormed the Moldovan Parliament as Pavel Filip was appointed the legislative body as new prime-miniser. Mr Filip is reportedly close to the country’s controversial oligarch and business tycoon, Vlad Plahotniuc.
- Moldova, a former Soviet Republic and Europe’s poorest country, has been in political turmoil since it was revealed that $1 billion had been stolenfrom three banks in the period prior to November 2014 elections, an amount equivalent to one-eighth of the country’s GDP. Taxpayers have had to pay the bill for this.
- October 2015 saw the collapse of a coalition of self-styled “pro-European” parties after Vlad Filat, former PM and party leader, was arrested on corruption charges.
- Protests officially began in Spring 2015 with the establishment of the civic platform Dignity and Truth (Romanian: Dreptate și Adevăr) in February: their aim was to monitor the government and uncover corruption.
- If general elections were held in the beginning of 2016, during the peak of the crisis, “pro-Russian” parties would win. Russian troops are stationed in the Moldovan breakaway region of Transnistria bordering Ukraine.
Moldova, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, is one of Europe’s poorest countries and hit the headlines internationally after it was rocked by a wave of mass protests in 2015–2016. In January, 2016 they turned violent as thousands stormed the country’s parliament calling for early elections and for an end to corruption. But what’s triggered this situation and who exactly is protesting?
It Is An Anti-Oligarch Uprising
- On January 20th, 2016 Pavel Filip was voted in as Moldova’s new prime minister following a day of protests in the country’s capital, Chișinău. Protests soon turned violent when hundreds broke through police lines and stormed the parliament;
- a few hours later the government was sworn in secretly by President Nicolae Timofti. Protesters claimed that the correct legal measures had not been followed and, because of the way he had been installed, his government lacked legitimacy
- . The failure of the opposition to prevent Filip’s appointment has been the catalyst to a new wave of protests.
Filip, former Minister of Informational Technologies and Communications, will head Moldova’s eighth administration since 2013. Last October, former PM Valeriu Strelet lost a vote of no confidence and was forced to resign after less than three months in power. Strelet was appointed after the previous PM, Chiril Gaburici, was forced to resign when the authenticity of his high school diploma was put into question.
- After months of searching for a new head of the government, in January 2016 the Moldovan parliament failed to vote in a new government led by Ion Sturza, a businessman and former PM.
- The country’s most powerful oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, whose Democratic Party is in control of the parliament and who wanted the job himself.
- But the president refused to nominate him citing concerns about this “integrity”. Instead Pavel Filip was voted in by 57 out of 101 deputies as ‘a compromise figure.’
The election of Filip did not end the crisis. He is widely seen as Plahotniuc’s ally and in the eyes of the protesters represents the old business and political elites that have been robbing the country in the last two decades.
According to opinion polls and Libération correspondent Sébastien Gobert’s report for Hromadske last week, Plahotniuc is “the most unpopular character in Moldova.” According to Gobert, Plahotniuc, although he holds no official position, (except being vice president of his of every aspect of the state. He controls the courts, the police, the parliament, the government and the constitutional court.”