Public Debate: The Removal of Vlat Filat's Immunity and the Vigilante Manhunt

Press Release
on the organization of the debate
Professionalism of law enforcement bodies, behavior of the political class and protesters in the case of removal of immunity and arrest of MP Vlad Filat, the leader of the PLDM”, the 42st installment of the “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates”, Series. Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”


Debate 42 brought together Socialist MP Vlad Bătrîncea; Democrat MP Sergiu Sîrbu, the expert Ion Dron, who is also the president of the Center for Monitoring Public Authorities, and the Project's standing expert Igor Boţan. Lib-Dem MP Vadim Pistrinciuc was also invited, but shortly before the debate he called in to announce he couldn't make it.

Reacting to the circumstances, we chose for the debate a topic that is new for Moldovan society: the removal of parliamentary immunity from a top politician and his subsequent arrest. The objective was to try to help the public understand this novel situation. Adding to the complexity of the topic are the ongoing protest movements which have an either direct or indirect connection to the case of Vlad Filat. Thus, the topic will be approached from three angles, as announced in the headline: 1) the professionalism of the law enforcement agencies, 2) the behavior of the political class, and 3) the behavior of the protesters.

In the spirit of the Project, as usual we sought to discuss these aspects in a calm manner, using arguments, despite the incendiary nature of this topic and despite our speakers having opposite opinions. Considering this, we asked our speakers to bear in mind that there is a major common interest: that of not letting the situation degenerate completely in Moldova, as the threat is quite real and the case of Vlad Filat demonstrated it beyond doubt.

Reversing the original order, priority was given to the third aspect of our topic, as it had been examined very superficially if at all, which made the threat even greater. “What do you think, dear speakers, about the 'vigilante manhunt' staged by a group of protesters and headed by Renato Usatii, the leader of a political party and also the mayor of Moldova's second most important city? A manhunt against not an ordinary man, but a major political figure, who was at that time inside the most important building in our country. A manhunt that targeted not just individuals, but also vehicles, including those of other high-ranking officials, as well as of foreign diplomats, who are supposed to enjoy full protection by the Moldovan authorities? And all this unfolded as the law enforcement members looked on. If they failed to react on October 15, does this mean that, from now on, anyone and anywhere in Moldova is free to engage in manhunts against individuals, officials, diplomats, or vehicles? This is what I meant when I said earlier that we are facing an unprecedented threat. What was that, why was it possible, who protects us ordinary Moldovans from such actions happening in the future?”, were the initial questions for speakers.

Lawyer Ion Dron, who heads the Center for Initiatives and Public Authorities Monitoring, said he felt fear when a group of people started the ‘hunt’ around the Parliament Building, saying they will not allow Vlad Filat to avoid responsibility. “I was frightened when police officers opened obediently the trunks and showed what they had there. I now do not feel safe as such persons can any time come to my home to search it, my car, etc. I’m afraid things derailed. The state bodies should have acted and shouldn’t have allowed such actions as the people of Renato Usatyi didn’t have the right to do so,” he stated.

Socialist MP Vlad Batrancea avoided commenting on the actions of Renato Usatyi, who staged the ‘hunt’ for Filat, promising a new car to the one who will arrest this. “It’s clear that the people are not satisfied and started to take to the streets to seek justice. There is no rule of law in Moldova now and the acts of the government stimulate these protests. The policies of the ruling alliance lead to the continuous impoverishment of the population. The exodus of people continues. The people want to be heard. They want those who are to blame to be held accountable. Even if we are the most corrupt country in Europe, no high-ranking official has been brought to justice over the last few years,” said the lawmaker, adding that the Socialists will not incite the people to violence.

Democratic lawmaker Sergiu Sarbu noted that if incidents happened on October 15 and some of the protesters defied the law, the police should intervene. “I don’t know if it was the case to use force. Why the police didn’t intervene is a good question. Maybe it is the syndrome of April 7, when the police didn’t intervene, but then became involved and resorted to abuses. A number of police officers and fewer protesters were held accountable afterward. Those who were now near the Parliament Building didn’t want the same fate. Any protest should take place exclusively peacefully, without intimidation and without forced entries into the public institutions, while the demands should be satisfied as a result of negotiations. Surely the government had what to learn from these protests. The initiated reforms will continue at a greater pace and we hope we will be supported in Parliament and a number of necessary laws will be adopted,” he said.

Igor Botan, executive director of the Association for Participatory Democracy (ADEPT) and the permanent expert of the IPN project, said that after the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU and after five years of ‘success story’, everyone in Moldova should be happy. “But the situation is different. The state was captured by particular clans. Why should we be surprised at hunts for people and at having such parties if the state does not defend us and we must defend ourselves? We must obey the law and protest as conscious citizens, but this is not always possible. Society is as it is. The political culture in Moldova is passive and contemplative and starts to manifest itself in situations of acute crisis, when things can no longer be endured,” he stated.

The analyst added that a ‘hunt for people’ wasn’t necessary as the bodies that were to arrest Vlad Filat were interested in his arrest. “It was a political act. I don’t think that many people wanted to take part in that hunt. It is anyway condemnable and distressing. A public disapproval of such an act must follow so that society understands that something like this is not allowed,” he said.

The Agency published 7 news stories on the debate (see the English version of on 19.10.15, „Conclusions following Vlad Filat’s arrest at IPN debate” -; „Sergiu Sarbu: PDM knows how to rule within minority coalition if PLDM leaves AEI” -; on 20.10.15 „ Fissures are witnessed in behavior of law enforcement bodies, politicians and protesters in case of Vlad Filat, IPN debate” -; “Sergiu Sarbu: If we hadn’t voted for withdrawing immunity, we would have hampered investigation” -; „ Vlad Batrancea: Ruling alliance is discredited, corrupt and irresponsible” -; “Igor Botan: I think all politicians have something to hide” -; „ Ion Dron: I’m afraid not of people protesting in central square or near Parliament Building, but of instigators” -

Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN

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