Where has she been during the last few years and what has she been doing? At what stage is the criminal case started against her by the former Democratic government? Does the Republic of Moldova progress in the justice sector reform? What is the role of politicians in ensuring authentic justice? How can the ordinary people obtain justice in the current conditions in the Republic of Moldova? Answers to these and other questions can be found in Sabina Rebeja’s interview through Skype with lawyer Ana Ursachi.
– IPN: Missis Ursachi, the project within which we conduct this interview focuses on justice in the Republic of Moldova, which we would like to address through the angle of the injustice through which you went four-five years ago. Before raising the subject, tell us where are you now?
– Ana Ursachi: I greet you from Brussels. I settled in Belgium a year ago after living for three years in Poland, while I was under political protection I received together with that politically motivated case that was started earlier against me and against many representatives of civil society who struggled against Plahotniuc’s regime in 2014-2016.
– IPN: You left four years ago. Tell us please, what have you been doing meanwhile? Have you practiced advocacy or switched over to another area of activity?
– Ana Ursachi: It was harder to continue practicing advocacy, the licensed activity I still have in the Republic of Moldova, but I never stopped defending human rights […] I joined a group of experts who dealt with the reform of Interpol, coming up with expertise in the legislative areas used by the Interpol and by which the states with oligarchic, kleptocratic dictatorship try to manipulate the Interpol so as to persecute the opponents and not to allow the Interpol to fulfill its primary duties […] Later, I had the honor to be invited to a very big team of human rights defenders and, with their support, backed by this team, I became a voice of the Republic of Moldova as regards the political, cases started against citizens, including against many people who suffered as a result of my case because my case alone caused at least ten collateral victims[…] Recently, as a result of this activity that earned me enough experience, I became the president of a foundation that I created not long ago. It is called Freedom Advocacy and deals with the protection of human rights and political persecution in post-Soviet and Eastern European countries.
– IPN: You case, alongside another 37 cases, not long ago was classed by the Prosecutor General’s Office as a “political case” and it was announced that they will be reexamined. The list includes criminal case started against public and less public figures who were intensely covered in the period of the government of the Democratic Party. Has the remand detention against you been annulled and was the wanted case dropped? What does this decision mean for you? Does it motivate you to return home?
– Ana Ursachi: I never lost the connection with the Republic of Moldova, but I will not return home for other reasons. I started to tell you that I created this foundation and I’m at the start of a very nice activity that I learned to do together with colleagues who saved me here and now I know that I can also save. I started to build a career here, in the West, and particular aspects of my personal life surely changed in this period of four years. I started to have more reasons for remaining here during the next years. However, particular changes that occur now on the political arena of the Republic of Moldova make me think about a possible return. The return home is not related to that case because the so-called warrant against me was annulled in the Republic of Moldova. I wasn’t wanted by the Interpol as in September 2018 the Interpol refused to search for me, considering my case a political one and I obtained protection. The annulment of this arrest warrant was nothing else but recognition by the prosecution bodies of the big mistakes made by their predecessors in particular high-ranking poss. In other words, the Prosecutor General’s Office managed by Alexandr Stoianoglo partially repaired the crime committed by Eduard Harunjen (e.n. ex-prosecutor general) and his inferiors when they fulfilled the order of Plahotniuc (e.n. Vladimir Plahotniuc, leader of the PDM in 2016-2019).
However, my case, as the case of the Petrenco Group, hasn’t got a final decision. I note these two cases because Grigore Petrenco and his mates and also I were considered indeed persons who provoked Plahotniuc’s personal hatred [...].
– IPN: Do you generally follow the latest developments in Moldova in the justice sector, the observance of human rights, the fight against corruption? What conclusions can you formulate? Where does justice in Moldova go?
– Ana Ursachi: You said developments, but I would say involution as what I saw during the last few years, especially after I left, was worsening of the quality of the justice system. I became a lawyer in 2000 and I thus have worked for 20 years on the bar. I defended people in different periods of time, when the Republic of Moldova was under one political influence of another because the justice system has always been politicized. But I want to tell you that such political interference as that witnessed since 2016 hasn’t existed in Moldova even ten or 15 years ago.
There appeared such phenomena as cases by order and, besides political revenge, the possibility of speaking on the phone from politician to prosecutor, of paying unofficial salaries to prosecutors. This was done by Plahotniuc and we know that there was a list of prosecutors – there was the rise.md investigation concerning this – who indeed received salaries from the Democratic Party, from Plahotniuc. This led to the basic dashing of any hopes that – having in important posts in the justice system protagonists who worked during the time of Plahotniuc - we can build justice.
Even if an improvement as regards the political persecution of businessmen have been seen after Alexandr Stoianoglo took over as prosecutor general and there is particular resistance on the part of some of the judges to political orders, this is not enough [...].
– IPN: Theoretically, the international partners have always mattered for Moldova, but their opinion in justice was taken less into account. After years of “reformation”, is it true that we do not yet have an authentic justice sector reform? Why does this happen?
– Ana Ursachi: The justice sector reform “was sacrificed”, being made the responsibility of incompetent persons or persons who suddenly became disinterested in fulfilling their obligations as personal convenience was more important. This happened not during the time of one government, but during more governments, in more ministries of justice that included different teams of many political colors. As you know, the Ministry of Justice included representatives of most of the political parties. The justice sector reform was and is an extraordinary reason for speculations. Whenever financing from the West was needed, a project related to the justice sector reform was devised. In a similar way, they now seek help for COVID-19. This has happened regrettably during the past 10-15 years. Representatives of different political parties managed the justice sector reform in time. Their message addressed to the West has been practically the same. “Help us as we will be unable to cope without you; give us money”. When reports were provided on the costs and the done work, these were every time sterile and false. [...] It goes to the human factor as the persons who were directly responsible for the justice sector reform were so incompetent that they dashed any hope that this will be successfully completed. Now the Western partners are no longer so native and the control over reforms will be much stricter. I’m yet glad that our country, after losing credibility before the West due to Plahotniuc and to the four-year government of Dodon, elected Maia Sandu and the credibility she will build before the foreign partners will have a positive impact on the cooperation with international institutions.
– IPN: If we speak about Moldovan society, is it ready to ask for more justice from politicians in Moldova?
– Ana Ursachi: I think the elections showed that society became more mature and can demand more justice. Despite the division, the attempts to keep us split according to language, politics, geopolitics, the diaspora, the country, nationality, poverty, wealth and other criteria, the people reacted very well and united. The vote given to Maia Sandu was against Igor Dodon and showed that society hopes for a better life, but a better life without justice is absolutely impossible.[...] The vote showed that society mobilized and will demand responsibility for this vote. The country is much more prepared to reply to fakes, to corruption that wasn’t fully rooted out by the politicians in the Republic of Moldova.
– IPN: Until justice is ensured in our country, how can the ordinary people obtain justice in the current conditions in the Republic of Moldova? Do you have a set of practical recommendations based on your experience and not only?
– Ana Ursachi: This is a question to which I, regrettably, do not have a clear answer. One thing is for sure. The ordinary citizens should no way tolerate the violation of their rights and should plead for transparency in the cases involving them and seek the society’s assistance. I’m sure that this call to lawyers, prosecutors, judges to wake up and ensure internal cleanup is heard.[...]. The ordinary people should ensure the security of the juridical relations in which they find themselves before taking them to litigation as prevention is always better than cure. Until you didn’t find yourselves in the middle of a lawsuit were justice is vitiated, try not to get there by obeying own rules that are written, imposed and should be followed even if you don’t like them.
Other aspects related to her case, the developments in the justice sector, the human rights, the fight against corruption in the Republic of Moldova during the last few years and who is to blame for the state of affairs in the country can be seen in the video interview with lawyer Ana Ursachi.
The interview was conducted in the framework of IPN News Agency’s project “Injustice revealed through multimedia”.