"Will Vlad Plahotniuc return to Moldova? He will come back, willingly or against his will..."
The sudden and covert departure from Moldova of the former leader of the Democratic Party of Moldova, Vlad Plahotniuc, was unexpected for many people, including him personally. He spent too many resources of all kinds, he broke the mold with too much determination, he knowingly made too many opponents or even enemies, which added up make it hard to imagine that he seriously took into account the retreat scenario. This doesn't mean that he didn't have a contingency plan, if his schemes related to Moldova failed, but this was rather a technicality, mandatory for players who are of great importance or are considered so.
There must have been very serious reasons for such a retreat, too serious to be ignored even by a player of his size. What are some of the most serious reasons?
Cowardice or honor?
Ex-prime minister Vlad Filat, who is said to have been imprisoned not without Vlad Plahotniuc's help and interest, may be right to some extent when saying that the DPM leader left out of "cowardice". The Explanatory Dictionary of the Romanian Language (DEX) shows that the notion "cowardice" has two components: "lack of courage" and "lack of honesty", which can only be partially attributed to Vlad Plahotniuc. First: the notion of "honesty" is relatively or even totally foreign to people who are willing and capable of building such a callous system that he pretended to completely control, as he claims to have done. Some qualify such persons as "authoritarian" or "dictatorial", but even more so, one cannot impute this criterion to anyone of his ilk who do not accept and/or do not understand it. Second: "lack of courage” means “fear”. It is not known whether the feeling of fear was paramount for a man who was under the protection, as was said, of all the state institutions, including force institutions, but also, under the protection of very powerful private security agencies, which were owned by him. Under such a "shield", few people would be as affected by fear as to leave everything behind in a way that can be described as a shameful flight. The so-called or the real attempt to usurp the power in mid June 2019, convincingly demonstrates how many forces Vlad Plahotniuc could gather under his banner and how determined he was to go "to the very end".
Secured from within
Thus, "life and safety hazards" concerns, most recently invoked in Ilan Șor's case, do not seem to be decisive. "Dangers to freedom", if we believe multiple claims regarding the involvement of Vlad Plahotniuc in all possible fraud schemes in Moldova, may have been the conclusive factor. Perhaps, yet neither does this reason seem to be decisive. That's because, if he stayed in power, with or without "all-in" moves, nobody would not have dared, as has not dared before, to approach him in such a manner. And if he did not remain in power, he was less likely to be held accountable, including because many heads, not just heads of the institutions that were subordinated to him, could have been accused of complicity after co-participation or unlawful activity was proven. A strong common front, presided by a strong leader, would have been created. Respectively, by staying in Moldova, even outside the ruling coalition, Vlad Plahotniuc would have ensured himself more security inside than outside the country. In this regard, the incriminating evidence that it is said he has collected on everyone would have been a safety net.
Humiliation of the unexpected defeat
Without a better reason than these, the former democratic leader would not have left the country. A better reason could be that he became aware, unexpectedly, that he lost the most important battle of his life, that he lost it both internally and externally. His ambition and his undoubtfulness that he already got to actually control everything and that everyone plays according to his rules, could not endure such a defeat, which, having remained in the country, would have humiliated him far more than abroad. Ambition and security are more acceptable than "honor" and "courage" to this type of people.
The external component of defeat
It is true, technically, things could have unfolded differently. It is said that Vlad Plahotniuc left shortly after a 15-minute conversation with US Ambassador Derek Hogan, held on Vlad Plahotniuc turf, at the DPM headquarters. It is assumed that the ambassador made offers that Plahotniuc could not refuse. It is easy enough to imagine why he couldn't refuse them - I have described some of them above. Others might refer to possible consequences that might have followed, if the ambassador's interlocutor did not get the hint. Yet the former government, and this means, first and foremost, Vlad Plahotniuc, have previously proven on multiple occasions that they can disregard the position of major geopolitical powers, especially the EU and Russia, but that they are also able to maneuver the interests of the three great powers (including the US) and even gain from their interests. Finally, the three powers came together and "sprung the trap." The clash between expectations and reality resulted in a huge disappointment, as huge as his ambitions and self-confidence. A total external defeat of a total inner ambition.
The internal component of the defeat
The total defeat had a no less resounding internal component. For almost three months after the February parliamentary elections, the DPM, and this means, first of all, Vlad Plahotniuc, assumed the position of the "great Kaa" from "The Jungle Book", being sure that the hypnotized and dizzy prey would fall right into its jaws. The "great Kaa" was unconcerned with who will fall, whether it was the ACUM bloc or SPRM, since he imagined being able to swallow them both, as he has done with others over the years. But SPRM-ACUM played the great schemer until the very last moment. They played him under his own eyes and his many intelligence services. Do you remember Vlad Plahotniuc's first appearance after a great pause succeeding the elections: "Did you expect me? It's me!" Do you remember the threat to politicians from the other three parliamentary parties: "I will take care of you...". Popular wisdom has long since cataloged such behavior: "If someone has advised you, that was bad advice." If the decision came out of your own head, then you have a bad head". It is not excluded that this internal component of the defeat also had an external involvement, as some suggest, but this confirms yet again the fact of the total, general and unexpected defeat of a leader who considered by himself and by his entourage infallible.
Will he come back?
Will Vlad Plahotniuc return to Moldova? He will come back, willingly or against his will. If he is to be brought in by the new ruling coalition, against his will, ACUM-SPRM must provide reliable evidence, first of all to the international community, that he is connected with at least some of the crimes he is accused of. He might return willingly, because ambition has no cure other than making "great" plans, especially if previous plans were very close to being materialized. However, history says that another ambitious man, upon return, was exiled to the island of Elba, and on second return - to the island of St. Helena, where he found his end.
Valeriu Vasilică, IPN