Today 22 August 2019, Thursday - Last updated at 21 August 2019
Abonamente

News 20 October 2015, at 13:19

Putin's Coming Win in Moldova

Marime Font

To understand how Russian President Vladimir Putin may get his way in Ukraine without having to continue the war there, watch its neighbor, Moldova.

Moldova has had a Russian-controlled frozen conflict zone since 1992. Like Ukraine, it has a torn identity, with even the Romanian-speaking majority divided on whether to consider themselves Romanian or Moldovan. And like Ukraine, its political system is corrupt.

Last week, the chief prosecutor in this small agricultural nation had former Prime Minister Vlad Filat marched out of parliament by men in black ski masks. Filat was questioned in connection with a $1 billion bank fraud.


Ever since a preliminary report on the fraud by corporate investigation firm Kroll became public earlier this year, crowds have camped out in the streets to protest the government's apparent failure to prosecute. They're mad about the country's endemic corruption and aren't going to take it anymore.

A sum worth an eighth of the country's gross domestic product appears to have vanished in the fraud. The heist was revealed in November 2014, yet the banks weren't liquidated as the International Monetary Fund has demanded. The cost has fallen on taxpayers in Europe's poorest country.

When the supposed investigation first started, all the bank documents related to the only man named in the Kroll report, Ilan Shor, were loaded into a van to be driven to safekeeping. The van was promptly "stolen" and found burned, together with the evidence. Shor is free (as he happily pointed out at the time, there was no documentary evidence against him) and was just elected mayor of a town near the capital.

It is on Shor's testimony, and (unburned) bank documents he says he has provided to prosecutors, that the allegations against Filat are based. Shor says Filat blackmailed him into paying $260 million in bribes, and that it was to generate this cash that Shor produced a carousel of loans paid off by other unsecured loans from a trio of colluding banks. Even if true -- and Filat denies the charges -- that leaves an additional three-quarters of a billion dollars unaccounted for.

The crowd of protesters, organized by a group called Dignity and Truth, supports integration with the European Union, as do most Moldovans. But unlike in Ukraine's two pro-democracy revolutions, and the 2009 "Twitter revolution" that brought Filat to power in Moldova, the government under attack is now pro-European, not pro-Russian or communist. If the protests produced new elections tomorrow, pro-Russian parties would very probably win.

If Ukraine continues to fail in dealing with corruption, and its current government is discredited, the same is likely to happen there: Pro-European parties would be thrown out and others even less committed to EU integration would take power. Whether those are from the far right or are more friendly to Russia, it would suit Putin's purposes by damaging Ukraine's prospects of binding itself to Europe.

The problem for Dignity and Truth is that reforms aimed at ending corruption are in the interests of neither the businessmen who run Moldova's pro-European parties nor the pro-Russian alternatives. And there is no viable political force representing clean government to take over.

Filat made money from political power. But he also oversaw Moldova's signature of a trade and association pact with the EU, as well as a deal for Moldovans to travel visa-free in Europe. This is why all of the fury of the pro-Russian parties, which have been holding their own smaller, but more aggressive protests, has been focused on destroying him.

Moldova's richest oligarch, Vladimir Plahotniuc, commands the second party in the ruling coalition, and his ministers and appointees control the country's justice system, so the investigation into Filat has gone forward with Plahotniuc's assent. He has resigned his seat in parliament to appease popular anger, but that doesn't mean he has necessarily lost his grip on the country's institutions, that democracy will suddenly flower or that corruption will be rooted out.

Moldova has been fundamentally corrupted by its leaders and a fire hose of Russian money. According to Kroll's report, the seed money for the bank fraud came from banks in Russia. And last year, a report by a nonprofit group forced prosecutors to start investigating an operation that allegedly laundered as much as $20 billion from 19 Russian banks, from 2010 to 2014. That's more than twice Moldova's annual GDP.

Moldova has seen its currency devalued by 25 percent since late last year. It is under a Russian trade embargo, its coffers are empty, and the reforms it is being asked to implement by the IMF and the EU involve sharply raising utility bills and reducing state spending. This is a recipe for the collapse of a discredited government.

The ruling coalition may well limp on until spring, because by law no snap election can be held until then. If that happens, even the optimists among Western diplomats think the pro-Russian parties would win. They would likely perpetuate Moldova's systemic corruption, though with a changed cast of beneficiaries.

Leaders of the pro-Russian parties also say they would seek to revoke Moldova's agreement with the EU, join Putin's alternative Eurasian Union and turn to the Kremlin for financing instead of the IMF. That might not suit most Moldovans, and more of the young and talented would leave. For Russia's leaders, however, it would mean success.

bloombergview.com

 Urmărește știrile Timpul.md pe Telegram
blog comments powered by Disqus

Din aceeaşi secţiune

Cele mai noi ştiri de azi

News 16 August 2019, at: 08:55

 Move by pro-EU Prime Minister to turn August 23 into a day of remembrance for victims of totalitarianism may trigger an ideological fight with her pro-Russian coalition partners – who celebrate the victory in 1944 of the Soviet Red Army on that day.

( ) Read all

News 15 August 2019, at: 18:43

The Washington Times Kremlin rewriting World War II history

Kremlin rewriting World War II history

 Sept. 1 marks the 80th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland — an event that heralded the beginning of World War II. Two years later, the United States entered the war as an ally of both Great Britain and the Soviet Union. By that time, France and numerous other...

( ) Read all

News 9 August 2019, at: 18:38

 Protesters in Moscow have been charged with violating three articles of Russia’s criminal code. Stanislav Andreychuk and Denis Shadrin, experts from Golos, consider the most outrageous examples.

( ) Read all

News 8 August 2019, at: 20:54

 The Lithuanian language is one of the oldest languages in the world.

( ) Read all

News 6 August 2019, at: 07:01

The wealthiest 500 people on Earth lost 2.1% of their collective net worth on Monday as U.S. stocks plunged in their biggest drop this year. 

( ) Read all

News 4 August 2019, at: 17:54

Foreign Policy The Longest Wars

 One of the most celebrated diplomats of his generation, Richard Holbrooke helped normalize U.S. relations with China; served as U.S. ambassador to a newly reunified Germany and then to the United Nations; and, most famously, negotiated the 1995 Dayton peace agreement that ended the war in...

( ) Read all

News 3 August 2019, at: 08:02

Romania has a reputation as one of the most pro-EU and pro-US countries in Europe.

( ) Read all

News 3 August 2019, at: 08:01

Turkey has jailed another of the seven teachers controversially deported from Moldova last year – handing down a stiff prison sentence of 12 years.

( ) Read all

News 30 July 2019, ora: 09:15

Dodon Ally Becomes Moldova’s New Anti-Graft Chief

Dodon Ally Becomes Moldova’s New Anti-Graft Chief

The appointment of Ruslan Flocea as new head of the National Anti-corruption Centre, CNA, sees another former adviser to the Pro-Russian President taking a top job in the Moldovan state.

( ) Read all

News 29 July 2019, ora: 08:24

Exclusive: Russia wants short-term gas deal with Ukraine before bypass routes complete (reuters)

Exclusive: Russia wants short-term gas deal with Ukraine before bypass routes complete (reuters)

Russia wants to strike a short-term deal with Kiev on gas transit to Europe when the current 10-year agreement expires in order to buy time to complete pipelines that will bypass Ukraine, four sources familiar with Russian thinking said.

( ) Read all

News 27 July 2019, ora: 09:30

Naftogaz CEO hopes to strike deal with Moldova on use of Ukrainian GTS, USFs

Naftogaz CEO hopes to strike deal with Moldova on use of Ukrainian GTS, USFs

Kobolyev noted that cooperation with Moldova will ensure an additional load on Ukrainian storage facilities and gas transmission systems.

( ) Read all

News 26 July 2019, ora: 10:25

Russia says it will ban think tank formerly run by U.S. ambassador

Russia says it will ban think tank formerly run by U.S. ambassador

Russia said on Thursday it was preparing to ban the Atlantic Council, a think tank formerly run by the U.S. ambassador to Moscow, which Russia's prosecutor general described as a security threat.

( ) Read all

News 26 July 2019, at: 09:33

Moldova, A Wine Experience Out Of The Ordinary

Moldova, A Wine Experience Out Of The Ordinary

Looking for a combined wine and gastronomy vacation? Looking for something adventurous and a bit off the beaten track? Try Moldova. This is probably not the first country that pops up in your mind. Some people may not even know it as a wine country. But it definitely is one. And an old one at that.

( ) Read all

News 25 July 2019, ora: 10:32

Moscow’s Man Eyes Second Term as Moldova’s President

Moscow’s Man Eyes Second Term as Moldova’s President

As he seeks re-election in 2020, Igor Dodon has made no secret of his close ties to the Kremlin – but critics cay his assiduous courtship of Russia has not brought Moldova any obvious benefits.

( ) Read all

News 23 July 2019, ora: 15:37

The EU resumes budget support assistance to the Republic of Moldova

The EU resumes budget support assistance to the Republic of Moldova

The Commission has resumed budget support assistance to the Republic of Moldova by disbursing €14.54 million today to support the implementation of the EU-Moldova free trade agreement, to finance vocational education trainings and to assist the implementation of the visa liberalisation...

( ) Read all

News 21 July 2019, ora: 22:16

Forbes Russia's Secret Intelligence Agency Hacked: 'Largest Data Breach In Its History'

Russia's Secret Intelligence Agency Hacked: 'Largest Data Breach In Its History'

 Red faces in Moscow this weekend, with the news that hackers have successfully targeted FSB—Russia's Federal Security Service. The hackers managed to steal 7.5 terabytes of data from a major contractor, exposing secret FSB projects to de-anonymize Tor browsing, scrape social media,...

( ) Read all

News 20 July 2019, ora: 09:52

Ukraine's Constitutional Court Upholds Law Equating Communism To Nazism

Ukraine's Constitutional Court Upholds Law Equating Communism To Nazism

Ukraine's Constitutional Court has upheld a law that equates communism to Nazism and bans the dissemination of its symbols, a law that has prompted angry protests from Moscow.

( ) Read all

News 19 July 2019, ora: 17:38

Turkish Court Jails Professor Deported from Moldova

Turkish Court Jails Professor Deported from Moldova

One of the seven Turkish teachers controversially deported from Moldova to Turkey has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years for terrorism-related offences.

( ) Read all

News 16 July 2019, ora: 18:06

Merkel Urges Moldova To Speed Up Reform Pace

Merkel Urges Moldova To Speed Up Reform Pace

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Moldova's new pro-European government to continue on the path of reforms and step up the fight against widespread corruption, saying Berlin would offer Chisinau its support.

( ) Read all

News 14 July 2019, at: 08:46

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale congratulated Moldova's new prime minister, Maia Sandu, and expressed U.S. support for her government during a July 13 meeting in the Moldovan capital.

( ) Read all

News 11 July 2019, at: 18:24

 Transnistria cannot remain a kind of a “sovereign entity” over which the great powers politely agree to disagree.

( ) Read all

News 11 July 2019, at: 13:07

ITALY's Matteo Salvini was hit by protests in the Italian Parliament as officials savaged the deputy Prime Minister following allegations of a secret oil deal with Russia.

( ) Read all

News 8 July 2019, at: 18:39

The first batch of oil from the USA arrived at the port of the Ukrainian city of Odesa. According to the press service of the port, 75 thousand tons of Bakken grade oil was purchased by PJSC Ukrtatnafta and will be processed at the Kremenchuk oil refinery.

( ) Read all

News 8 July 2019, at: 18:06

Moldovan Prime Minister Maia Sandu will make an official visit to Ukraine on July 11.

( ) Read all
Current tier / breakpoint: xs sm md lg xl (= visible only on this breakpoint)

.hidden-xs-down .hidden-sm-down .hidden-md-down .hidden-lg-down

.hidden-xs-up .hidden-sm-up .hidden-md-up .hidden-lg-up .hidden-xl

.hidden-xs (only) .hidden-sm (only) .hidden-md (only) .hidden-lg (only) .hidden-xl (only)