Lustration. Op-Ed by Victor Pelin

“Returning to WUM’s initiative, it should be noted that for this to be successful, some of the emblematic members of the given institution, who were the protagonists of scandals or of public accusations should also resort to self-lustration. There should be an axiom – you cannot seek the lustration of others when you don’t do it in relation to yourself...”

Initiative of Writers Union of Moldova

The Writers Union of Moldova (WUM) launched a resonant initiative concerning the necessity of adopting a lustration law. The Union’s prestige does so that the given initiative is taken seriously and is examined attentively. As a former nucleus of the National Renaissance Movement, which ended with the declaration of the independence of the Republic of Moldova, WUM is by far the institution that is the most suitable for invoking the necessity of a moral repair of our society: “We want to know not only our heroes, but also the traitors. As, when we don’t know them, they can disguise themselves as patriots and work against our national interest”. In this regard, the Union’s initiative suggests that lustration should be mandatory for those who:

  • were in the service of KGB and, as they can be blackmailed, they can fulfill foreign orders to the detriment of society and the state;
  • provoked the Moldovan-Russian war on the Nistru in 1992;
  • orchestrated the events of April 7, 2009, when the Declaration of Independence was destroyed;
  • staged the bank theft, discrediting the Republic of Moldova in the world;
  • promote the interests of another state, sabotaging the European course of the Republic of Moldova, etc.

WUM claims that its Initiative is something unique, giving as example a number of post-Communist states. Moreover, a series of initiatives were launched in the Republic of Moldova concerning: KGB agents; events of April 7, 2009; lustration and clearing of state authorities of oligarchic influence etc. The Union’s innovation resides in the mixing of the mentioned problems so that these are addressed as a whole, not separately, given the whole spectrum of dangers posed to the Republic of Moldova. It is not a simple task. The adoption of such a law necessitates a complex approach and the initiation and application mechanism, the direct and secondary effects should be clarified first:

  • constitution of a national lustration commission, status, its powers and activity for imprinting credibility;
  • ensuring of access and studying of relevant documents, including of classified ones, in the process of lustration;
  • working out of documents and recommendations of the commission, quality of

proofs, their publication, assessment of impact on lustrated persons; 

  • estimation of risks concerning causing of eventual witch hunts, avoiding of unfounded slandering of lustrated persons, etc.

As the author of the initiative, WUM can initiate public debates on the lustration problems, attracting experts in different fields who, after studying the experience of other states, can draft the Lustration Law so as to submit it to Parliament for examination and adoption. It would be a great pity for WUM to miss the opportunity of proposing, at least, one draft concept of the Lustration Law.

Opportunity of lustration

The opportunity of a lustration law is confirmed by current events that were in full swing right when the Union’s initiative was launched:

  • the launch of the big cleanup by the government of the Party of Action and Solidarity(PAS), which targets namely those who robbed the banking system, the active or passive accomplices from state institutions; 
  • the appeal of the president of honor of the National Unity Party (PUN) Traian Băsescu in the case in which he was declared a collaborator of the intelligence service by the common law court. The given case highlights the eventual impact of a lustration law, including and especially on famous persons. As to Traian Băsescu, it is known that he incontestably had an extremely beneficial contribution similarly for Romania and for the Republic of Moldova in the European integration process, but this thing does not exempt him from lustration;
  • the scandal concerning the conflict of interests at TV8 channel, which, besides lustration on the part of the state, suggests activating also the self-lustration mechanism, etc.

The WUM’s approach should be an insistent one as one of its members, Vasile Șiomaru, who often raised the lustration issue, is an MP, a member of the parliamentary majority group of PAS, and he has the possibility of promoting such a bill, even if he earlier expressed his skepticism about the success of a lustration law.

Self-lustration

The eventual adoption of a lustration law will last rather long as the PAS government is preoccupied with the fight against corruption and illegal economic schemes. Such an approach in point of fact is correct. The corrupt persons can be blackmailed and thus pose a major danger to state security. In fact, for persons with legislative responsibility posts, the current legislation envisions a particular type of permanent lustration: obligation to declare the property and interests, monitoring of the lifestyle, existence of irreproachable reputation for promotions to posts, etc. But this is not enough. Society should be involved in the cultivation of self-lustration, including by exerting pressure when there are appropriate reasons.

In the Republic of Moldova, the idea of self-lustration was launched in 2010 in connection with the founding of the commission for research and analysis of the activity of the communist-totalitarian regime, but this idea didn’t take clear shape then. In Romania, a famous case of self-lustration is that of journalist and politician Robert Turcescu. Returning to the Republic of Moldova, we can invoke the example of ex-minister of justice Alexandru Tănase, who in 2018 tendered his resignation for the reason that “it is in the spirit of the European values, for any public post to be first of all based on public trust. When this trust is endangered, even by reasons that lack pertinence, any initiative, no matter how good it is, will not produce the wanted result”. Public trust was undermined following an alleged telephone conversation between the ex-minister of justice and the alleged protagonist of the Laundromat Veaceslav Platon. Public opinion is still waiting for the examination by Parliament of the Report produced by the commission of inquiry into the laundering of Russian money through Moldovan banks and institutions.

In a curious way, the same personage, Veaceslav Platon, is one of the protagonists of the mentioned scandal at TV8, which undermined the credibility of the TV channel and of journalist Natalia Morari. The generalized conclusion is that for public persons, contacts with personages who have a reputation similar to that of Veaceslav Platon can have devastating consequences. In this context, the presumption of innocence that matters for the coercive bodies of the state is out of the question. It goes to the reputation that should matter enormously for keeping the credibility of public figures.

Returning to WUM’s initiative, it should be noted that for this to be successful, some of the emblematic members of the given institution, who were the protagonists of scandals or of public accusations should also resort to self-lustration. There should be an axiom – you cannot seek the lustration of others when you don’t do it in relation to yourself.

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