Analysis: In the context of the current election campaign, the theme of ‘Gagauz separatism’ stops to be a purely penal one and inevitably acquires a political color. What consequences does this have for Moldovan society and the country in general?
‘Treason’ or ‘a new 1937’?
A protest in support of a group of people from Gagauzia, whom the Security and Information Service and the Prosecutor General’s Office accuse of treason and acts aimed against Moldova’s integrity, will be staged in Comrat on October 19. According to the law enforcement bodies, several inhabitants of the Gagauz capital were sent to a special camp in Russia to be trained militarily and gained skills that were to be used in Moldova ‘for terrorist purposes’.
Two of them – Vasili Mavrodi and Viktor Urum – were already convicted, but were put on probation for a five-year period because, as they say, they admitted their guilt and cooperated with the investigation bodies. But their comrades - Veaceslav Boiko and Dmitri Kuznetsov – are still being investigated. Another young man, who is said to be the most important figure in this case, was put on the wanted list. This is Anatoli Kara, who is a member of the Executive Committee of Gagauzia and who, according to particular information, is hiding in Russia. He was allegedly recruiting these young men.
The October 19 protest is organized by the public movement “United Gagauzia”, whose leader Fiodor Gagauz is taking part in the current election campaign alongside the team of the Party of Socialists and was even included in this party’s list of candidates under No. 6. It is more than probable that the theme of protection of the Gagauz people at the planned protest will be accompanied by political notes typical of the electoral atmosphere.
Moreover, these notes were already perceived in the speeches of other political leaders of the autonomous unit. The Bashkan of Gagauzia Mihail Formuzal described the actions of the Security and Information Service and the Prosecutor General’s Office as ‘legal lawlessness’ and ‘a new year 1937”. According to him, the central bodies are intentionally discrediting the region, punishing it for the local referendum held in February, where most of the residents said they are against the European integration course pursued by Chisinau.
The theme of ‘Gagauz separatism’ became too evident for not being noticed and not being used in the electoral context. For the representatives of the political left, this is evidently a reason for criticizing the authorities that ‘suppress and discredit the pro-Eastern aspirations of the people’. The political right will unite their supporters, treating this topic as encroachment on the sovereignty and European future of the country.
In these circumstances, the details and legal aspects of this lawsuit become less important. The case of the Gagauz young people will inevitably become or, in fact, already became a political one. The ‘Gagauz separatism’ was included in the flywheel of the electoral propaganda.
The politicization of this theme can have consequences that will go beyond the day of November 30. We should remind here the most known themes, which can be already called classical, existing in the public discussions within all the national elections – the name of the official language, the violation of the rights of Russian-speakers, interpretation of historical events, and others. In the daily life, the people face such topics much seldom than they read about them in newspapers. The people are concerned more about the market prices, the accessibility of healthcare services and the quality of roads rather than about what happened in 1812 or 1918. Only the covering of these themes by the media makes them look of ‘fundamental importance’.
The same can happen in the case of the ‘Gagauz problem’. We cannot say that there are no persons in Gagauzia who want separation from Moldova. It’s possible that the increased attention devoted by the Security and Information Service and the Prosecutor General’s Office to the young people from Comrat is not groundless. But the problem is that putting emphasis on the theme of separatism in the chase for people’s votes leads to its materialization in the minds of all the residents of Moldova. The problem of language seems not a problem at all, but rather a scarecrow at the service of politicians. However, the given scarecrow influences our life and, in this respect, is a real one.
It’s hard to name the Gagauz separatism a myth now because the criminal case is something real, because the solidarity of the Gagauz people with the convicted young people is real, because the danger of the anti-Gagauz states of spirit in Moldovan society is also a real one. For now, this reality is based on thoughts and opinions only and does not go further than protests and domestic disputes. And will not go, God willing.
Veaceslav Craciun, for IPN