The event that marked the political week is the detaining by prosecutors of the ex-President of the Republic of Moldova Igor Dodon on a number of counts, namely treason, passive corruption, unjust enrichment and acceptance of financing for the party from a criminal organization. On May 24, during several hours, the law carried out searches at a number of locations, including at Igor Dodon’s domicile in Buiucani district of Chisinau, where they found over half a million lei, tens of thousands of euros, valuable items and documents related to the investigation. The delight of the public stemmed from the news item about the brother-in-law of ex-President Dodon, Petru Merineanu, who during a search tried to swallow documents that allegedly served as evidence of illegalities.
Green light to “kulyok case”
The prosecutors initiated the procedure after acting prosecutor general Dumitru Robu on May 18 ordered to take legal action based on the videos that were made public in the summer of 2019, which were swiftly baptized by the public as the “kulyok case”. It happened after the Chisinau Appeals Court fully quashed a decision by the Chisinau Court that blocked the investigation into those videos that clearly show how the now fugitive oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc offered Dodon a black bag and from their discussion it can be presumed that there was a lot of money in this. Earlier, Dodon, with evident insolence, said that he didn’t know what was there in the bag and that the images were forged. Dodon’s impertinence in denying evident facts derived from the blocking of the real inquiry into this case during the tenure of prosecutor general Alexandr Stoianoglo, who nonchalantly asserted in 2020 that the videos didn’t represent proofs for taking legal action.
The accusation of treason made against Igor Dodon is probably based on the recordings that were published the days before Plahotniuc’s departure and that refer to the project to federalize the Republic of Moldova that was promoted with tenacity by Moscow through Dmitry Kozak, with Dodon’s mission being to persuade the leader of the PDM Vlad Plahotniuc to support this project that was fatal for the Moldovan state.
Defense-attack tactic of Igor Dodon and PSRM
The former President Igor Dodon a week ago announced that he expected he would be arrested. Therefore, he started to build his defense strategy that, with big anticipation, could be expected to be accusing the government of diverting public attention from the increase in prices and tariffs for the population to his detaining. There is also the speculation that the Prosecutor’s Office failed to investigate the case in 2019, with this failure being described by Igor Dodon as his definitive “rehabilitation” in the “kulyok case”. Against such a background, ex-President Igor Dodon pleads not guilty and says that this is “a political case crossed by yellow thread”, with yellow being typical of the symbols of the ruling Party of Action and Solidarity.
The same tactic is applied by the Party of Socialists that ties to persuade a lot of people to take to the streets in favor of its president of honor who is accused of corruption, with the idea that the current government in Chisinau aims to distract public attention from the worsening social situation. For now, the street demonstration in favor of Dodon does not impress by the number of participants. At these protests, they speak rather in Russian and this means that the invitation to protest is heard mostly by the Russia-speaking component of Moldovan society, which supports Putin in the war in Ukraine and is hostile to the national emancipation of the Romanian-Moldovans in the Republic of Moldova. Not at all accidently, provoking invective-calls that are very offensive to native ethnics are heard namely among these so-called demonstrators who protest against the opponents of Dodon, such as “baggage, station, Romania”. This clearly shows that attempts are made to rehabilitate Dodon by instigating interethnic hatred in Moldovan society.
What is connection between “case of Dodon”, status of neutrality and Russo-Ukrainian war?
In despair for their cause, the Socialists try to speculate on Moldovans’ concerns about the war in Ukraine so as to free their leader from culpability. The Social heavyweights describe Dodon’s arrest as an action by the government aimed at destabilizing the situation now that the danger of war increases. One of the leaders of the Socialists called on the supporters of PSRM to be ready to defend democracy by protests. ‘This is a dangerous game,” he said in a press briefing. “Those who started this procedure want to cause destabilization. What for? We often urged not to allow the Republic of Moldova’s involvement in dangerous processes and to maintain neutrality.”
The Socialist leader didn’t bother to explain the logical causality between the status of neutrality of the Republic of Moldova and the accusations of corruption made against Dodon. But this evident alogism didn’t at all stop the Socialists’ attempt to imprint a geopolitical connotation on the criminal case started against Igor Dodon. This attempt perfectly synchronizes with the statements made in Moscow about the Kremlin’s concerns about the fate of Moldovan politicians with “Russia-friendly aspirations”. From here, there is only one step up to the justification of Moscow’s interference in the internal affairs of the Republic of Moldova with the “noble” goal of defending the rights of Russia’s friends, especially if the language in which these friends comunicat preferentially is Russian.
More questions than answers
The restarting of the investigation of Igor Dodon by the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office in this tumultuous geopolitical situation generates a number of questions. What pertinent evidence does the investigation body have in this case for remitting the case to court in a reasonable timeframe? Do the counts against Igor Dodon represent separate cases or all the accusations are investigated in one case with a long completion term? Are the Prosecutor’s Office and the government in general sufficiently prepared for convincing public communication on this special high-profile case? Is the case of Dodon an expression of the prosecution service reform or it represents a fight between clans competing inside this service? Are the government and pro-European forces in general able to efficiently reply to the mobilization of the pro-Russia and pro-oligarchic segments in the case of Dodon?
The fate of the fight against corruption in the Republic of Moldova depends on the responses to these questions, but not only. In fact, the end result of the case of Dodon organically matches the capacity to multidimensionally reform Moldovan society according to the European civilizational models. The unconditional observance of the legal norms and procedures in the investigation of the case of Dodon becomes a categorical imperative of credibility of the justice sector reform in general. Or the failure of the case of Dodon equals the failure of the justice sector reform in the Republic of Moldova, reinvigoration of the oligarchic system and return to power of the pro-Russian and anti-European political forces...”
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