1 – Moldova`s most hated oligarch
BSSB.BE opendemocracy.net/ 20.10.2016
Plahotniuc and his allies have recently become more visible in the west, with several visits to the US and an op-ed by Moldova’s prime minister Pavel Filip in The Hill.
Instability in Moldova is typically explained away by geopolitics, with the country positioned on a rift between the west and Russia. It’s a fear many of the country’s nominally “pro-Western” politicians have readily exploited.
- Whatever the the fear of “losing Moldova” to Russia, it cannot justify supporting Plahotniuc, an opportunistic oligarch who is pursuing a policy of unchecked state capture. This policy of appeasement may be a short term victory for the EU and US, but in the longer term will only further erode the already-waning pro-western, and pro-European, sentiment in Moldova.
- In July, a sizeable $600,000 contract was signed between Moldova’s Democratic Party, of which Plahotniuc is vice president, and Podesta, a US lobbying firm. Time will tell if it’s paid off.
- Whether ordinary Moldovans can afford it is another matter. Financially, Moldova is yet to recover from one of the largest banking heists in history. This event saw $1 billion dollars (15% of the country’s GDP) disappear from the country’s three banks in late 2014.
- Whatever the the fear of “losing Moldova” to Russia, it cannot justify supporting the opportunitistic oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc
- The heist wasn’t so much the cause of today’s political impasse. Rather, it was a symptom of a much longer crisis, of a system which made such theft possible in the first place.
This banking crisis led to the collapse of two pro-European coalition governments. In February 2016, Vlad Plahotniuc formed a ruling coalition led by Moldova’s prime minister Pavel Filip. This government is highly disliked by a majority of the public, who loath the influence of Plahotniuc — Moldova’s wealthiest and most hated oligarch.
Moldova’s Grey Cardinal
Perhaps readers of Politico should get to know the article’s author a bit better.
Vlad Plahotniuc is widely considered to be Moldova’s wealthiest person. However, the full extent of Plahotniuc’s assets and wealth remains unknown. He owes his financial standing to a privileged position in the inner circle of former Communist President, Vladimir Voronin. However Plahotniuc remained in the shadows of Moldovan politics while building an economic empire through commercial raiding. Moldovan media did not even have a photo of Moldova’s richest man until 2010.
Protesters gather to oppose Vlad Plahotniuc’s nomination as prime minister of Moldova, Chișinău, January 2016. (c) RIA Novosti. All rights reserved.
- Once the Communist Party lost power in 2009 and a pro-European coalition emerged from Moldova’s so-called “Twitter Revolution”, Plahotniuc began to appear in Moldovan politics.
- He was quick to change his allegiances by sponsoring the then-opposition Democratic Party, of which he is now deputy chairman. The oligarch was also instrumental in promoting his protégées in key state offices, including the judiciary and law enforcement.
- Coupled with his media empire (he owns Moldova’s main TV channels), Plahotniuc’s influence is now unchallenged. His fortunes rose with the October 2015 arrest of Vlad Filat, Moldova’s ex-prime minister and former leader of the Liberal Democratic Party.
- Filat also happened to be Plathotniuc’s main political and oligarchic rival. After eight months in custody, Filat was convicted in July 2016 to nine years in prison for his connection to the one billion dollar theft.
Coupled with his media empire, Plahotniuc’s influence is now unchallenged
In July 2016, a Moldovan banker, Veaceslav Platon, was arrested in Ukraine in connection with the banking theft and, despite possession of Ukrainian citizenship, was nonetheless hastily extradited to Moldova.
Platon is now in pre-trial detention. This turn of events contrasts to the fate of Ilan Shor, another wealthy Moldovan-Israeli businessman considered the central figure in the banking heist, who was arrested back in 2015, but was then allowed to run for mayor of Orhei, a town not far from Moldova’s capital. He ended up winning with a landslide.
Still, days before Filat’s conviction in July 2016, Shor (who is the main prosecutorial witness in both Filat and Platon’s cases) was re-arrested, only to be released in early August to house arrest, suggesting that Moldova’s authorities are willing to punish some more than others.
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*Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4Z6tw4MdJs – Why Read: The Importance of the Liberal Arts – Literature Against Philosophy (2004). The liberal arts (Latin: artes liberales) are those subjects or skills that in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free person (a citizen) to know in order to take an active part in civic life. In Ancient Greece this included participating in public debate, defending oneself in court, serving on juries, and most importantly, military service (slaves and resident aliens were by definition excluded from the duties and responsibilities of citizenship).
*Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4rj8fzivFQ – Highest Security Prison In The World – Full Documentary HD.
*Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keB6IE3fJ04 – What Happens When You Die – Documentary National Geographic – Full Documentary Films
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