Carthage must be destroyed! Op-Ed by Victor Pelin

“The network of social stores remained the last redoubt of the Shorists and Ilan Shor inflexibly intends to adjust it to the new circumstances so as to secure a particular political and electoral score. The charity area remained the last niche where Shorist ingeniousness and altruism can be yet manifested...”

Concentrated initiatives

The Constitutional Court’s decision No. 10 of June 19, 2023 on the unconstitutionality of the Shor Party created preconditions for radical changes on the political arena of the country. By all appearances, the impact of the CC’s decision was initially underappreciated by public opinion and the heavyweights of the Shor Party. This fact generated interest in an eventual eruption of ingenious solutions aimed at overcoming the legal and practical obstacles to the work of the Shorist heavyweights and their supporters. There are reasons for such expectations. The first signal showing that we can witness a show in several acts was provided by Dinu Țurcanu, one of the vocal heavyweights of the former Shor Party, who stated that: “if the Constitutional Court, under pressure, recognizes the Shor Party as illegal, we will open by two new parties a day. The problem resides not in stamps, but in people”.

Surely, the registration of parties is a relatively simple matter and this is due to the decision by the Constitutional Court (CC), which on February 25, 2020 adopted Decision No. 5, providing that the text of the law on parties, which refers to the number of members needed for registration, is unconstitutional: “We declare unconstitutional the text „whose number cannot be lower than 4,000 [members] ... when the party is constituted, its members should have the domicile in at least half of the administrative-territorial units of the second level of the Republic of Moldova, but not less than 120 members in each of the mentioned administrative-territorial units”. Even if the Shorist heavyweights have met with particular impediments in the process of implementing the desideratum to open by two new parties each day, oligarch and swindler Ilan Shor can resort to the previous experience – buying for several tens of thousands of dollar of one or several empty party shells. There are many such shells - over half of the list of 60 political parties handled by the Public Services Agency (PSA). It happened so in 2015, when “Ravnopravie” (“Equal Rights”) became the Shor Party for the purpose of turning the culprit for the billion theft into a politician. Currently, a promising candidate for saving the political careers of the Shorist heavyweights seems to be the Revival Party. The latter, after approximately ten years of hibernation in anonymity – during which it didn’t even submit financial reports to the Central Election Commission (CEC) - became suddenly active, demonstrating access to unexpected financial resources. The supposition that ‘where there are the interests of fugitive Ilan Shor, money from obscure sources appear’ became axiomatic already.

Another promising initiative launched after the Shorists were outlawed was the one referring to the initiation of a consultative referendum. The idea is not original as it was tested successfully by the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM) Vlad Filat back in 2008. The real goal of the registration of initiative groups for holding referendums is not to stage plebiscites, but to collect signatures, evidently together with personal data of signatories. Later, hundreds of thousands of citizens who signed the subscription lists receive letters full of success stories and promises of a dreamy future signed by the leaders of the given parties, for example:  Yours V.F.” or, eventually, “Yours I.Sh.”. Nor at all accidentally, the Shorist heavyweights draw their inspiration from the experience of the PLDM. The point is the leaders of the two political parties already had a lot of activities in common and had the occasion of learning from each other. Knowing how generous Ilan Shor is to the protesters involved in the demonstrations of the movements “New Life” and “For People”, we can expect an excess of generosity to the eventual signatories of the subscription lists for holding a referendum that is most often planned for collecting personal data of citizens. The mentioned examples emphasize how ingenious the Shorist heavyweights can be.

De-Shorization till the end...

Unfortunately, or fortunately, the promising initiatives of the Shorist heavyweights met with the government’s determination to remove them from the political competition. In practice, during only a week, the two aforementioned ingenious initiatives were, metaphorically speaking, thrown into the dustbin. This way, on July 11, 2023, the CEC decided to reject the Shorist heavyweights’ application to register the initiative group for holding a referendum on the neutrality and European integration of the Republic of Moldova. This is an additional proof of the fact that the CEC learned the ingenious methods of work of the Shorists. During only five years, the CEC managed to remove four candidates of the party from electoral competitions for the posts of mayor, MP and President.

The experience accumulated by the CEC with regard to the Shor Party was suggestive for acting in a simple manner, without artifices – thorough checking of documents. This was sufficient for determining that: “after comparing the list of participants in the constitution assembly of the initiative group with the list of members of the constituted initiative group, it was established that 22 persons are absent from the lists of participants in the citizens’ assembly. This fact is confirmed by the signatories of the chairperson and secretary of the initiative group on these lists. This way, the figure stands at only 84 persons, which is less than the 100 persons with the right to vote who constitute an initiative group…”. This way, we were stripped of the first act of the long-awaited show of the Shorists’ confrontation with the government. Respectively, goodbye to referendum and to the access to citizens’ data.

But the most unexpected blow to the Shorists was given by the parliamentary majority that on July 14, 2023 gave a first reading to a bill to put into practice the CC’s decision on the unconstitutionality of the Shor Party. Consequently, it was proposed to amend the Election Code and the law on political parties, in the following way:

  • During three years of the passing of the Constitutional Court’s decision to declare a political party unconstitutional, the persons who at that moment were members of the executive body of the political party that was declared unconstitutional, the persons who held elective posts or were on the lists of substitute candidates on behalf of the political parry that was declared unconstitutional cannot be elected;
  • The attributes of the political parties declared unconstitutional, by the decision of the Constitutional Court, cannot be used by other political parties, electoral blocs and other electoral contenders. If the use of such attributes is ascertained, these represent a reason for the Public Services Agency’s refusal to register the politic party … or, depending on the case, for the Central Election Commission’s refusal to register the electoral bloc or another electoral contender...

There is no doubt that the bill will be given the second, final reading and will become a law before the start of the competition for the municipal elections of November 5, 2023. This means that the announced bloc of chances, opportunities and results (B.Ș.O.R.) and any other body that evokes Shorist manifestations will simply lose the raison d’etre (reason to be). Indeed, if the Shorts heavyweights are banned from taking part in elections throughout the electoral cycle – future municipal, presidential and parliamentary elections – why should swindler Shor throw money away? So, most probably, we will be stripped of another three acts of the eventual show of the Shorists’ confrontation with the government.

The mentioned competition does not stop at the political and electoral sphere as the government declared its attack on the Shorists at all levels. Effort is made to also remove the latter from the charity niche, which was adjusted for serving political interests by corrupting voters. Respectively, during July 11-13, “broad checks were conducted at social stores all over the Republic of Moldova by inspectors of the National Road Transport Agency (ANTA), representatives of the National Public Security Inspectorate (INSP) and of the Tax Inspectorate. More exactly, all the units of transport of the business entity SRL “Magazine Sociale” were stopped and subjected to checks simultaneously. If the police patrols didn’t find reasons for imposing penalties, they sought help from representatives of the ANTA and tax inspectors, who invaded the social stores”.

In connection with the aforementioned, it should be noted that fugitive Ilan Shor is stubbornly determined to save his network of social stores that represent the basis of his political project that is based on the corruption of voters. Immediately after the raider attack on his network, Shor announced that “another MERIȘOR store, in a new and modern format, was inaugurated in Ciocana district of the capital city” and this practice will continue. The innovative element of the reformation of the network of social stores is the fact that formally, it is designed to comply with the provisions of the CC’s decision on the unconstitutionality of the Shor Party. In this regard, it was decided that the network of social stores will be not under the auspices of the unconstitutional party, but under those of B.Ș.O.R.

So, we have reasons to hope that the show of the Shorists’ confrontation with the government will yet continue. We will see how the government achieves the desideratum “De-Shorization till the end.” The CC’s decision obliges it to do this by stipulating that: “the declaring of the unconstitutionality of a political party is not only a reaction to the party’s conduct witnessed in the past, but is primarily an act of democracy aimed at the future, which is protected against a real danger”. Moreover, the CC invoked also the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, noting that “the states have the right to take preventive measures to protect democracy both from political parties and from non-party entities”.


In the confrontation with fugitive Ilan Shor and the formal and informal bodies of this, amidst the challenges to regional security and under a permanent state of emergency, the government decided, by all appearances, to abide by the famous motto: “Carthage must be destroyed!”

The Shorist heavyweights seem to have resigned themselves to the situation already. For now, these haven’t reacted somehow to the CEC’s refusal to register the initiative group for holding a referendum. They also didn’t react to the publication and giving of a first reading to the bill to amend the Election Code and the law on political parties by which these are banned from competing for eligible posts and from using formal and informal platforms as substitutes for the Shor Party.  

The network of social stores remained the last redoubt of the Shorists and Ilan Shor inflexibly intends to adjust it to the new circumstances so as to secure a particular political and electoral score. The charity area remained the last niche where Shorist ingeniousness and altruism can be yet manifested.

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