“The arrest of the five former turncoat MPs can be considered a high-profile case because it refers only to one element or to the tip of the iceberg of an alleged phenomenon of large-scale political and non-political corruption at all levels due to which the state capture was possible. This case is a happy find for the law enforcement agencies that started it and for the current government, but is also a bomb with an almost immediate effect for both of the sides. Which of the two effects has more chances of becoming true?...”
Necessary and opportune?
The case of the turncoat MPs is of pressing necessity, as are all the other high-profile cases that should provide answers to a number of questions after so many years of massive public speculations and should result in the imposition of deserved penalties for acts committed in the past and offer guarantees that they will not repeat in the future. We do not refer here to the privative or non-privative measures of freedom imposed on the five accused. But the case is opportune namely in this concrete period only if the law enforcement agencies have the capacity and will to send it to court as soon as possible. The ideal time limit is March 4, when the 30-day arrest warrants against most of those accused expire. After that day, all or a part of them can find themselves freed from detention legally, with or without the imposition of home arrest or judicial control. This means the investigation bodies do not have the evidence needed for conviction. For its part, the case risks joining the high-profile cases without an end result even if this has lasted for many years. It is a kind of “another case of the billion theft”. Respectively, the deadline for remitting it to court will be a litmus test of the capacity and will of the state institutions to shed light on this case.
Why was the case started?
It was started in order to cast light on the processes that happen in the sectors of the Moldovan justice. It is important to realize why the case of the alleged corruption or “unjust enrichment” of the five ex-MPs was started now? What new materials could be collected by the investigation bodies in seven years of the presupposed “buying” of these five ex-MPs, in fact alongside another nine former Communist MPs and alongside many other MPs and non-MPs from the PLDM, PL and other entities?
The starting of this case is categorically opportune if the investigation bodies have, for example, “concrete” evidence and other kinds of safe proofs of the alleged transmission of money from the “buyer” to the “sellers”. It would be ideal to gain access to all or at least some of the data of the “buyer’s” illegality. It is not hard to presume who was this in 2015, when the Democratic Party secured a confortable parliamentary majority, even if this didn’t show the electoral preferences of Moldovan society. We will find out if the investigation bodies have such evidence much earlier than March 4, eventually through the considerable extension of the number of suspects and this will be the start of the first high-profile case that will be solved.
But if they do not? And they probably rather do not have such evidence or the former turncoat MPs would have been accused of corruption or even of “usurpation of power in the state”, as some of the opinion leaders or politicians suggest. The difference is that “unjust enrichment” should be justified by the accused, while corruption or usurpation should be proven by the investigation bodies. Why was then this spectacular file started now? Here are several possible answers that circulate in the public sphere:
- pn the instruction of the current government, with the aim of taking political revenge, as some of the accused assert, and of distracting society’s attention from the multiple serious problems witnessed as present, as the parliamentary opposition and a part of the noon-parliamentary opposition assert. But we cannot know exactly as none of these provide evidence, while the government, as it was expected, denies the accusations;
- the initiative belongs to the investigation bodies (General Prosecutor’s Office, specialized prosecutor’s office, NAC, etc.). Several variants are possible here: a) the investigation bodies sincerely want to bring the messy things in order; b) the investigation bodies show excess of zeal so as to be in the government’s good graces while waiting for the future reforms; c) the investigation bodies or particular representatives aim to present the government in a negative light, generating new dissatisfaction, also by the lack of end results in other or even all of the high-profile cases. In this case, the action can be a manifestation of the resistance put up by the system to the processes that the government calls “cleanup of the system”. The list can be continued even if none of the variants can be proven now.
We can speak about benefits...
On the one hand, even if this case does not have an appropriate end result, we can speak about particular, surely relative benefits:
- the previously “shrewd” guys have been hiding, while the potential “shrewd” guys are considering whether it is worth risking initiating schemes of corruption, unjust enrichment and appropriation of foreign goods that had been massively applied in an open and impertinent way until recently; ...
- the money “saved” this way can easier reach the state budget and used for the people’s needed that multiplied in the recent past;
- the part of society that continues to seek “reformation” and “cleanup” strengthens itself;
- the efficiency “gap” in fighting negative phenomena that appeared in the period between the last two election campaigns, conducted under the “fighting” and “cleanup” slogans, and the end of the process of creating legislative and practical mechanisms for doing the reforms needed for the cleanup, can be covered with particular content.
... or risks?
On the other hand, the risks generated by this case seem to be bigger than the benefits:
- the impression that the practice of selective justice is continued can become stronger. Why these former turncoat MPs and not others? Why namely those MPs who appear in the picture in front of this analysis in privileged positions? Why aren’t the turncoats from other parties not featured too?;
- as they were placed under arrest, the accused turn into victims in the eyes of a part of society and Moldovan society unequivocally takes sides with the victims. Furthermore, these obtain serious pretexts and platforms for presenting themselves as victims of the government;
- the death of the mother of one of the accused in this period could and was efficiently used for staging strong attacks on the investigation bodies and the government. The reaction of the suspended prosecutor general Alexandr Stoianoglo, who is also involved in a high-profile case with even more unclear prospects of being brought to an end after this appearance, is significant in this regard.
- This is so because many people, including that part who until recently had been victims of violence and abuses committed by the “law enforcement” agencies, subscribe to the humanist ideas of the suspended prosecutor, including as regards the unjustified use of arrest;
- the strengthening of the ranks of the supporters of one of the parliamentary parties, including owing to the first three reasons presented above, on an even more intransigent platform that until now, respectively with negative effects on the capacity of society to combine forces on really important issues.
It is not yet clear how well these and other benefits and risks were considered when this criminal case was started now, not in a different period of time. We could have a first response variant until March 4, 2022...
Instead of conclusions
The arrest of the five former turncoat MPs can be considered a high-profile case because it refers only to one element or to the tip of the iceberg of an alleged phenomenon of large-scale political and non-political corruption at all levels due to which the state capture was possible. This case is a happy find for the law enforcement agencies that started it and for the current government, but is also a bomb with an almost immediate effect for both of the sides. Which of the two effects has more chances of becoming true?