Moldova coup d’etat

Moscow is losing its former opposition

Moldovan pro-Russian forces have shown their weaknesses

Moldova’s pro-Russian political forces are rapidly losing influence. This is noticeable to the naked eye: after the detention and then arrest of Moscow’s main friend, ex-President Igor Dodon, it turned out that there was no one to stand up for him in his homeland. The Party of Socialists was unable to defend its honorary chairman and was itself under attack. At this rate, Russia, which has had almost no contact with the pro-European authorities of the republic since mid-February, will soon have no one to cooperate with.

Pro-Russian opposition in Moldova is taken into custody (pictured: ex-President Igor Dodon)

Pro-Russian opposition in Moldova is taken into custody (pictured: ex-President Igor Dodon)

Photo: Irina Bujor, Kommersant

Pro-Russian opposition in Moldova is taken into custody (pictured: ex-President Igor Dodon)

Фото: Ирина Бужор, Коммерсантъ

A situation unique to the local political landscape is emerging in Moldova. For many years, pro-European and pro-Russian politicians (the former were usually located on the right flank, and the latter on the left) here divided influence and changed each other in power. But now those who openly advocate cooperation and dialogue with Moscow, and even those who, after the start of the “special military operation” in Ukraine, are neutral towards Russia, have begun to lose ground sharply.

Several factors contribute to this. In recent weeks, several left-wing parties have received painful blows from the law enforcement system.

On May 24, ex-President Igor Dodon was detained and then placed under house arrest. He is accused of passive corruption, illegal enrichment, treason and financing of a political party by a criminal organization. Mr. Dodon is the honorary chairman of the Party of Socialists, a political force that has never hidden its sympathies for Moscow.

After the detention of Mr. Dodon, the Socialists held several protests “against the dictatorship” of the pro-European government.

The country is now governed by President Maia Sandu, who declared European integration a strategic goal, and a government formed by the pro-presidential Action and Solidarity party.

On May 29, the Party of Socialists led supporters to protest in the center of Chisinau to the parliament building, opposite which is the high-rise of the presidential administration. The action, which turned out to be faded and small, did not demonstrate the ability of the left to mobilize people. The gates of the presidential administration were defiantly opened during the protest. It is curious that the Socialists in their street activity did not support the Party of Communists – their partner in the parliamentary “Bloc of Communists and Socialists” (the second largest faction after the ruling party – 32 deputies out of 101).

And on June 2, searches took place in the main office of the Socialists. Documents were seized. The prosecutor’s office reported that the measures were carried out as part of the investigation of the case of illegal financing of a political formation.

In Telegram channels, documents were “leaked”, according to which law enforcement officers are interested in almost the entire first line of the Party of Socialists.

At the same time, at the request of the prosecutor’s office, parliamentarians from the Shor party were deprived of their parliamentary immunity – its leader, businessman Ilan Shor and Marina Tauber. The first fled to Israel three years ago, fearing criminal prosecution, but continues to be an MP. The second is in Moldova, and she is now forbidden to leave the country. Ms. Tauber and Mr. Shore are accused of involvement in the laundering of large sums of money.

Shor is a left-wing populist party, claiming to fight for social justice and opening shops around the country selling food at low prices. Ilan Shor is known for his close contacts with the Russian establishment. On issues of geopolitics, the “Shor people” almost do not speak out, insisting on social problems, but the party’s program says that its members “firmly stand on the positions of unconditional preservation and strengthening of the Moldovan statehood and its military neutrality.” Moldova’s neutrality and permanent non-aligned status are exactly what Moscow wants.

Socialists, Communists and the Shor Party are the brightest representatives of the forces that are considered to be pro-Russian or neutral towards Moscow. Non-parliamentary parties with similar attitudes are not yet particularly noticeable in the republic. Not least of all, their activity was influenced by the situation in Ukraine: in Moldova, more than 40% consider Moscow’s actions against Kiev unprovoked.

Political analyst Stella Gentouan states in this regard: the left flank is exposed. “The fact that Russia has no partners or parties left here with whom it would be possible to conduct a dialogue is not only the fault of the war. It’s not quite the right strategy of Russia to work with parties and dialogue with them in Moldova. Russia fed only pro-Russian forces, and this led to the fact that this pro-Russianness was discredited by pro-Russian forces – socialists who were mired in scandals, “said Ms. Zhantouan in a conversation with Kommersant.

The head of the Chisinau Balkan-centre, Sergei Manastirli, in an interview with Kommersant, called the situation with Igor Dodon and the socialists “a natural cleansing, which aims to ensure socio-political stability and avoid the emergence of an organized opposition within the country in the event of a change in the situation on the borders of Moldova.”

He believes that “in the future, we can expect a ban on the Party of Socialists, which today is the only structured opposition political force in the country.”

“Everything goes to the fact that there will be no forces in the country that advocate at least a dialogue with Russia. Not to mention those who would advocate rapprochement with Moscow,” Sergei Manastirly concluded.

Vladimir Solovyov

Moscow is losing its former opposition – Kommersant Newspaper No. 99 (7300) of 07.06.2022