Statement of the Steering Committee of the Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership following a visit to Chisinau 2-5 October 2018
The Steering Committee of the Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership expresses its solidarity with our colleagues in civil society in Moldova and especially in the Moldovan National Platform of the EaP CSF.
We wish to support the MNP statement dated 4 October 2019 which in our view accurately defines the situation of the country as one of ‘state capture’ in which ‘an oligarchic group’ has taken control of the economy, the legislature and justice system, the mass media and the electoral system. In this situation the space for the political opposition and the non governmental (NGO) sector is shrinking fast and the hope for change of the situation is undermined by the annulment of the result of the local election in Chisinau in 2018. This step bodes ill for the national elections which are to be held in February 2019
The seriousness of the situation is reflected in the MNP statement.
This is not a purely local matter but has an international dimension. The country has been and threatens to continue to be, an major money laundering centre which de facto undermines the financial system in Europe and beyond.
Thus we repeat the demands of our colleagues in the MNP
- there be an independent investigation of the USD 1 Bill bank fraud in Moldova;
- that targeted sanctions be appied against those guilty of usurping state power in the Republic of Moldova;
- that the institutions and the member states of the European Union monitor and react to the situation from Moldova, as well as define adequate preconditions for any financial support granted to Moldovan authorities;
- and develop and apply an international Magnitsky Act type document that targets persons in power who use illegal funds to obstruct democratic practice in Moldova and abroad.
The capture of state power is fast becoming a reality in Moldova. It threatens to spread to other countries in the post Soviet space and elsewhere. We appeal to the justice authorities in the European Union, and lawyers and academics to work on developing a body of law which could be used to fight this crime through international tribunals such as the European Court of Human Rights or the International Criminal Court.
Appeal of the Moldovan Platform of the EaP CSF
to the Ninth Eastern Partnership Meeting of Foreign Ministers
4 October 2018
In the last years, Moldova stepped back considerably in terms of transparency, democracy and accountability. Since 2016, an oligarchic group took control over the three branches of the state power and media sector, capturing the state. This allowed building the economic agenda around the interests of this narrow group to the detriment of the public interest. Control over the law enforcement institutions ensured its’ impunity, while control over the legislative branch allowed adjusting, contrary to the Venice Commission recommendations, the electoral system in the detriment of any opposition. Control over mass-media allows manipulating the public opinion, setting false priorities and avoiding discussions on genuine problems of people, dividing and weakening the society.
Judicial independence was compromised via criminal procedures against vocal judges and rigid internal control. Annulment of the 2018 local elections in Chisinau is just the peak of the iceberg. The interception of conversations is at the highest rate ever, in 2017 the number of arrested persons exceeded the number of arrested detained under communist regime, while the acquittal rate is lowest in 20 years. In 2017 the Government tried without success to limit the foreign funding of NGOs and no final decision on the issue is taken. The vibrant NGOs are boycotted by the authorities and subjected to unprecedented attacks via politically affiliated media and trolls. The ruling political parties are funded from obscure sources. The genuine opposition does not have access to public media and resources, while its representatives are harassed by police and prosecutors. As a result, the people of Moldova, mainly young and promising specialists sharing European values, are massively leaving the country.
Also, the National Platform of Moldova of the EaP CSF expresses a serious concern in respect of the USD 22 billion of Russian money laundered via the Moldovan justice system, the USD 1 billion fraud of the state funds from the banking system, the adoption of the legislation to legalize the money of fraudulent provenience and the system of granting Moldovan citizenship to foreign investors of a dubious reputation.
Creating the anticorruption prosecution office and the specialized agency for asset recovery, working out anti-money laundering and asset recovery strategies and, at the same time, passing the legislation compromising the investigation of the bank fraud, corroborated with the de facto impunity offered to the main suspect of the bank fraud, speak of the double agenda of the current leadership of the country, aimed at promoting shady interest and transforming Moldova into a grey financial area.
We see as immediate priorities for the leadership of our country:
- Recognizing the results of the 2018 elections of the Mayor of Chisinau;
- Annulment of the 2017 amendment of the electoral system and ensuring the fairness of the next parliamentary elections under the system of elections existent prior to 2017;
- Immediate abolition of the July 2018 law allowing the amnesty of the capital;
- Ensuring the real process of recovering the assets from the bank fraud;
- Ending the impunityfor all the persons involved in this fraud;
- Holding accountable the heads of the institutions in chargefor the supervision of the banking system that admitted the USD 1 Bill bank fraud;
- Initiating an investigation and bringing to responsibility the Democratic Party of Moldova for the blatant violation of the Law on funding political parties and electoral campaigns.
Giving the fact that the Moldovan governors did not accept these measures as priorities invoked in multiple appeals from civil society, we demand the EU Commission, Council, Parliament:
- to determine an independent investigation of the USD 1 Bill bank fraud;
- to apply targeted sanctions against the usurpers of the state power in the Republic of Moldova;
- to closely monitor and react to the situation from Moldova, as well as establish adequate preconditions for any financial support granted to Moldovan authorities;
- to workout and apply an international Magnitsky Act type document that targets persons in power who use funds with criminal provenience to obstruct the democratic development in their countries and around the world.