Why does Irina Vlah’s platform risk not enjoying support? Op-Ed by Victor Pelin

“Given the aforementioned, there are real dangers threatening the credibility of the “Moldova Platform” – the accumulation of failures and confusions in a chain. None of the serious opposition politicians will want to associate themselves with an organization that is marked by failures coming on a conveyor belt. So, adjustments are needed...”

Failure after failure ...

Last week, the leader of the public organization “Moldova Platform”, Irina Vlah, admitted that her efforts in the last four months weren’t crowned with success. The efforts were directed towards uniting the opposition in order to identify a common candidate, from a list of about 10 people, for the upcoming presidential election, and she acknowledged that there were barriers in this regard. However, Irina Vlah was optimistic, being confident that the opposition will yet unite: “It is a very difficult stage we will go through. We will overcome it with difficulty during the period of preparations for the presidential election. After the presidential election, the situation will be much simpler for the opposition. There will be many more opportunities for unification, resolution of particular problems.”

Another resounding failure of the “Moldova Platform” was that the MPs simply ignored the consultation of the draft legislative initiative sent to the legislative body regarding the holding of a national referendum on the non-acceptance of the Republic of Moldova into military blocs, alliances and coalitions. According to Irina Vlah, the issue of the country’s neutrality is really important for society in the context of the war in Ukraine. It is curious that precisely the parties of the Communist-Socialist bloc, which Irina Vlah intended to unite, didn’t show any interest in the mentioned draft.

Shift of emphasis

In such circumstances, the optimism and creative spirit suggested that the former governor of Gagauzia should change the emphasis in the work of the “Moldova Platform”. In this regard, Irina Vlah announced the launch by “Moldova Platform” of a new campaign: “We decided to launch a large national campaign under the slogan “The Voice of the People of the Republic of Moldova. Through this campaign, we will collect information from people about the problems they face, their opinions, wishes, suggestions, expectations and will make these public in the hope that the government will listen to them. Together with the people, we will knock on all the doors behind which “the yellows” of PAS hide.” The necessity of this campaign was justified by the fact that the representatives of the government have locked themselves in their ivory castle and are afraid to go through the villages so as not to hear the indignation of the people.

At first glance, Irina Vlah’s new campaign would be extremely useful and necessary, if it were true that government representatives refuse to go to villages and discuss with the citizens. The problem is that general local elections took place a few months ago, during which not only the ruling party, but also all the other about 60 parties existing in the Republic of Moldova had the obligation to visit all the localities of the Republic of Moldova to discuss with citizens, find out the problems they face, propose solutions and ask them for a vote of confidence. Following the elections, it turned out that about 1/3 of the citizens voted for PAS. And the most unpleasant thing was that when electing district leaders, councilors elected on behalf of parties that Irina Vlah tried to unite against PAS voted for candidates of this party, ensuring PAS’ control over 56% of the districts.

There is another factor that the leader of the “Moldova Platform” should take into account. We are talking about Irina Vlah’s colleagues from civil society, who accused PAS of misusing administrative resources precisely because the head of state, the prime minister or other dignitaries of the PAS government allegedly went to localities to meet with voters, favoring the ruling party. If so, then we can come to the conclusion that Irina Vlah, through her new campaign, pushing PAS dignitaries to go to villages, serves the interests of the government, not those of the opposition, which she failed to unite.  

With the measure you use, it will be measured back to you...

What really pleases in Irina Vlah’s activity is the incisiveness with which she launches new projects and initiatives, but especially the frontal attacks against the rulers. In this regard, the recent request addressed to President Maia Sandu  is remarkable: “...I will not assess your work for the whole nation.  Today, ahead of the election, you again promise the people a bright future, but you cannot promise anything new until you report. Before making new promises, we should focus on the old ones. Tell us what you’ve accomplished! We are waiting for the report!” Everything is fair and absolutely legitimate, but there is still half a year until the elections. For the rest, we will certainly all have to insist, together with the “Moldova Platform”, to be offered information, as her predecessor, Igor Dodon, did in his report.

However, there is a delicate nuance in Irina Vlah’s address. Would she like Maia Sandu’s report to be presented in the same way as her own report on the governing of Gagauzia was presented? Because there were questions from deputies of the People’s Assembly and also from colleagues from civil society of Gagauzia, who raised serious doubts. For example, Socialist deputies from the People’s Assembly were outraged by Irina Vlah’s failure to honor her promise to stand by Russia: “She [Irina Vlah] ran for Bashkan with the slogan: "we stand by Russia”, “we stand with Gagauzia”, and today we are already with the European Union, with Romanian language. The Gagauz people are waiting for elections because she is not our governor. She has a project to move forward in Moldovan politics, to take the flag in her hands and to advance towards Cimișlia...”. By the way, this is precisely the voice of the people, expressed through their representative.  

But let’s see how the politically unaffiliated deputies of the People’s Assembly assessed the work of the Governor of Gagauzia, after studying Irina Vlah’s report printed in a 72-page brochure with an issue of 45,000 copies, which was widely distributed without indicating data about the typography, issue and the amount spent in this regard:

  • Irina Vlah wasn’t open to the residents of Gagauzia. She replaced the communication with people with endless celebrations, festivals, meetings with ambassadors and welcoming of guests. She divided us into friends and enemies. She failed to become a guarantor of the unification of the Gagauz people. Not a single public authority reform strategy was initiated or implemented. We have more departments in Gagauzia than ministries in the country;
  • During the eight years of Missis Vlah’s government, the number of economic agents in Gagauzia decreased from 7,185 to 6,433;
  • She spent over 10 million lei from the autonomous unit’s budget on annual economic forums with receptions, but without any yield;
  • She promised to create favorable conditions to annually raise the average monthly salary in the region and bring it to the level of 10,000 lei by 2023. In fact, the average salary in Gagauzia is 7,500 lei – 3,000 less than the average salary in the republic;
  • She promised not to allow closing any of the educational institution in the autonomous unit. However, over the years, a secondary school in Cişmichioi village, a primary school in Baurci village and a vocational school in Comrat town were closed. Under her eight-year rule, the birth rate in Gagauzia decreased by 35%;
  • A series of projects were carried out with the support of international donors that were attracted to the autonomous unit not by Vlah, but by public figures and local authorities, etc.

Colleagues from civil society, which includes the “Moldova Platform”, were also disappointed with Irina Vlah’s governance in Gagauzia:

  • attracting investments in Gagauzia. The report doesn’t say a word about the investor, for example, of the TEKWILL project in “one of the areas of the economy which is strategically important for the region in the development of the IT sector”. The report says nothing about who is funding the project, which is backed by the U.S. Government through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID);
  • road building and repair. Again, the sources of funding are not indicated. For example, the report notes the building of a bypass road in Comrat, which is part of a large-scale project to repair the international highway M3 leading to the port of Giurgiulești. But it is not said that the construction of the Comrat bypass road was carried out with the financial support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), etc.;

We see that both the deputies of the People’s Assembly and the colleagues from civil society in Gagauzia drew attention to the fact that ex-governor Irina Vlah reported only the successes, without indicating the backers of the completed projects, categorically avoiding to refer to the unfulfilled promises, which were many. For example, among the promises was the construction of strategic facilities, such as the international airport in Ceadîr-Lunga and the power station in Vulcănești. Asked by journalists why she didn’t fulfill these promises, Missis Vlah said that the pandemic and the government in Chisinau, even when the power was held by the Socialist partners, prevented her.

Therefore, while waiting for President Maia Sandu’s report requested by Missis Irina Vlah, we would still like to be respected and to be honestly told about all the promises made during the 2020 presidential election.

Irina Vlah’s only success...

To maintain objectivity, we must also highlight the successes achieved by Missis Irina Vlah during the period after the launch of the “Moldova Platform” and its numerous projects. It goes to the awarding to her of the “Church Merit” order by the Metropolitan Bishop of Moldova. Receiving the award from the hands of the Metropolitan Bishop, Missis Vlah assured: “I will continue to dedicate my assiduous efforts to the prosperity and growth of the Orthodox Church of Moldova.” She noted that she advocates preserving and strengthening “our united Metropolitan Church... Faith unites us, makes us stronger in the face of challenges and fills our hearts with hope.”

Obviously, we should all rejoice at Irina Vlah’s spiritual virtues. However, for the sake of truth and with much sorrow in our souls, we should admit that there is room for doubt in this regard. The point is that during the 44-day Armenian-Azerbaijani war, in the autumn of 2020, the then governor of Gagauzia made a public confession: “We don’t stand with the Armenians, with whom we share the same faith, but we stand with the Azeris, our blood brothers.” Of course, Missis Irina Vlah’s feelings and emotions are related to her private life, as long as she doesn’t display them, but she could have behaved correctly in relation to Metropolitan Bishop Vladimir and drawn his attention to the prevalence of blood over faith in the hierarchy of priorities.


Given the aforementioned, there are real dangers threatening the credibility of the “Moldova Platform” – the accumulation of failures and confusions in a chain. None of the serious opposition politicians will want to associate themselves with an organization that is marked by failures coming on a conveyor belt. So, adjustments are needed.

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