On June 23, 2022, at the EU summit, it was decided to grant Moldova the status of an EU candidate. However, the indicated year brought into the life of Moldova an unprecedented social crisis caused by energy problems and the armed conflict in Ukraine.
Solidaritätsnetz International is aware that during times of war and crisis, civil strife also increases. Political leaders and power structures begin to neglect human rights, level the levers of influence of civil society, justifying their illegal behavior by the need to achieve abstract and lofty goals.
A superficial look at the situation in Moldova is enough to realize that there is a deep social crisis in the country, the disappointment of society and the growing political confrontation. The public authorities, managing the apparatus of coercion, are tempted to use the criminal justice in order to put pressure on political opponents.
On October 21, Solidaritätsnetz International together with the public initiative “Free Moldova” organized a round table in Chisinau on the topic “Human Rights in Moldova: the path of European integration”.
Politicians, human rights defenders and journalists present at the event were invited to discuss the ongoing justice reforms in Moldova and the level of legality standards.
Political technologist Jan Lisniewski believes that those who received minority votes came to power in Moldova:
“PAS got 52.4% in the election. In fact, this is only 25% of the inhabitants of the Republic of Moldova,” said Lisnevsky. “It turns out that the choice of 25% decides the lives of the remaining 75%.”
According to him, recently the opposition has not acted in a coordinated manner, does not have a long-term strategy, and people’s confidence in the protests has fallen.
Political scientist Alexander Kornienko is convinced that the problems of the protesters, who will find themselves poor and unprotected in winter due to exorbitantly high gas prices, are greater than the discomfort from the inconvenience associated with the protests:
“The only way to stop a protest in a democracy,” he says, “is to listen to the protesters. I don’t believe protests change anything. External players, political elites change. But protests are necessary to learn democracy, to learn to hear each other.”
According to TV journalist Sergei Skrypnik, any power that is taken or received from the hands of Maia Sandu and the PAS party will not cope with the economic collapse that haunts all the countries of Europe:
“The whole of Europe is in protest. In France, protesters were dealt with with batons and tear gas the other day. In Germany, the same thing, it makes no sense to list. The authorities in Moldova will not pay attention to the protests. Because the form of protests should be such that it will strain the authorities.”
The chairman of the Patriots of Moldova party, Mihail Garbuz, does not agree that nothing can be achieved by protests. He explained that his party emerged precisely as a protest movement, the most important achievement of which was the 2012 marches against the unionists, as a result of which there have been no more unionist marches on the territory of Moldova since then.
“We are criticized,” says Garbuz, “for the fact that we came out in the last elections with the only point of the program – holding a referendum on Moldova’s entry into the Russian Federation. What is this if not a protest against the fact that we are being led to a merger with Romania. We just showed that there are other options. The protest movement unites. The only question is whether we want to unite.”
Artem Guryev, chairman of Our Motherland – Moldova, expressed concern that the Moldovan authorities “openly took the side of NATO in the conflict in Ukraine and step by step are drawing Moldova into a military conflict on the side of NATO.” He believes that this violates all the principles of neutrality, which are enshrined in the constitution of the Republic of Moldova:
“The Sandu regime attributes all its failures and blunders in state governance to military operations in neighboring Ukraine. But if you please, in the same Ukraine, the prices for food, energy resources, utility bills are 2 times lower. Inflation is 10% lower. Moldova in September was in first place in Europe in terms of inflation – 34%. Ukraine at the same time – 24.6%, Russia – 13.7%. These are warring countries. And after that, the Sandu regime is dissatisfied with the emergence of protest movements, believes that it has the right to disperse the protesters in the center of Chisinau?”
Public figure of Gagauzia Mikhail Vlakh spoke about how the Gagauz people held mass protests and rallies in June demanding that the authorities answer the question of how the people can survive if the authorities do not want to negotiate for cheap gas:
“85% of the country’s inhabitants live below the poverty line, and long-term promises of EU membership without any real steps towards this will not feed people. We demanded from the authorities that, since they are going to the EU, let the European officials pay for the gas that has risen in price to the Gagauz. You said during the elections that you would treat both the Russian-speaking population and the Gagauz people well, but as the elections were held, that’s all, the topic was closed. Therefore, we demanded that they go to negotiate with those who produce gas, with Russia.”
According to Vlach, “recently the Moldovan authorities have been working to destroy the Gagauz statehood.” He connects such a policy with the fact that on February 2, 2014 the Gagauz people held a referendum on the postponed status (in case Moldova loses its sovereignty, Gagauzia reserves the right to be a sovereign state) and on the direction of economic integration (98.8% of the Gagauz people said that sees itself in the Eurasian Economic Union).
Solidaritätsnetz International has sent a number of letters and asks the European Commission, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the OSCE, in their relations with Moldova, to take into account as much as possible those negative trends in the suppression of civil society institutions, which are carried out by the ruling regime in Chisinau.