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19 November 2018
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Interviews

Gheorghe Russu

Vice-director, The Center for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption

Parties-Phantoms, Parties - State Institutions, Parties - State Enterprises

Ion PREAŞCĂ

20 parties have registered in the current election campaign. Many people say it is a too big number for such a small country as Moldova. At the same time, much more parties could take part in the election campaign.

Last week illustrated
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Activists launch Moldova’s first ‘Space Camp’ © Susan Coughtrie

The "shy" regret of Chisinau concerning the events in Belarus

Imitation of fair and free presidential elections by the Belarusian authorities on December 19, 2010, which resulted in about 90% turnout, out of which 80% voted in favor of the current Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, has displeased the opposition and its supporters.
Denis CENUSA, 26 January 2011, 9:41

The opposition's requests to repeat the elections and their accusation of "mass frauds" during the ballot have been stronger than the patience of the inflexible Lukashenko, who usually gets irritated at the most minor criticism. The speed with which the police acted proved that it was prepared to apply repressive measures. Provocateurs among the peaceful crowd and unauthorized development of the protests additionally incited the Belarusian enforcement structures to unleash counter-actions.

All those who confronted with the police, as well as those who happened to be nearby - opposition members, journalists, representatives of civil society and ordinary protesters, approximately 600 of people, became victims of the crackdown. Beaten, arrested and maltreated, the detainees passed through "flash" trials resulting in sentences varying between 15 days of detention and 15 years of imprisonment - for alleged organizers of the "unauthorized" protests. The critical situation in Belarus did not leave anyone indifferent. Organizations like OSCE, EU and even United Nations (UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) criticized thoroughly the Belarusian authorities and called for the release of detainees and for the respect of their rights to freedom of expression and association. Critical voices also came from European states (Germany, France, Great Britain, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria) [1], USA and Ukraine. Moscow's position was suspiciously reserved compared to the denigration campaigns meant to "politically eliminate" the inconvenient Lukashenko.

Despite the widespread doubts of the West regarding the fairness of the elections in Belarus, Iran, Venezuela, Kazakhstan and Georgian separatist enclaves  have promptly sent their congratulations  to the newly re-elected controversial Belarusian president.  Paradoxically, "Lukashenko's friends" have rushed to appraise positively the process the very next day after the elections, even before the Belarusian Central Election Commission adopted a final conclusion regarding the elections.

Choosing between the critical Europeans and the indolent Russians, the Chisinau adopted an extremely moderate position, balanced with the OSCE's preliminary arguments pointing out certain flaws in the Belarusian electoral law and encouraging Minsk to continue democratic reforms.

Chisinau "shy" or "cautious"?

The position of the Moldovan diplomacy concerning the events in Belarus reveals a series of problems in self-identification of Moldovan foreign policy and the reflection by it of the internal realities of the country. The possibility to adhere to the OSCE's official position has saved spotless the official image of Chisinau, which however expressed on a quite uncertain tone its "regret" regarding "the evolution of the events on the evening of the elections day, [...] marked by the repression of the opposition representatives, civil society and mass-media" in Belarus. This is a vague and unconvincing appreciation for a country that went through a similar experience in April 2009 and that claims to hold the status of "a successful model in the Eastern Partnership". For comparison, the Ukrainian side, an underperformer at the European integration chapter, expressed its position in more trenchant terms, at least raising concerns regarding "the disproportionate" force applied towards journalists and the participants in the protests [3].  

 It is also bothersome that the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs came out with a reaction only after being asked to by the local media and not on its own initiative, acting in a diametrically opposite way to the European states that reacted independently and urgently. This is bothering primarily because the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the exponent of the Government empowered as a result of the dramatic and tumultuous events of April 2009, when similar to the situation in Belarus, peaceful protestor were arrested, abducted and/or maltreated in detention.

In the context of the turbulences in Belarus, it can be clearly tracked if the current Moldovan officials respect the idea of "peaceful protests", if they have remember the contribution of the anti-communist protests and if they feel empathy with the Belarusian peaceful protestors. Besides a personal attachment and sympathy for human rights and freedoms, our authorities should have conformed to the general European trend and reprove the repressions against the opposition, journalists and the civil society as a whole. Contrariwise, the message issued by the Moldovan side emanates caution, reservation, possibly caused by the insufficient information about "the riot" occurred in Minsk few days ago, or by political and economical reasons on one hand, or by the mere approbation of the police`s behavior on the other hand.

The discomfort of Chisinau is related to the ambiguity of the monitoring process of the Belarusian presidential elections done by the exigent Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE and by the indulgent observers from CIS countries. Although the Moldovan diplomacy stuck to the OSCE conclusions that points to the non-transparent procedure of counting votes, to the disproportionate composition of the electoral bodies and to the unequal access of candidates to the media [5], however, Moldova remains indirectly attached to the opposite opinion of the CIS mission.

Thus, unlike the OSCE objections, the Secretary of the CIS Executive Committee, Serghei Lebedev, has stated at a meeting with Lukashenko that elections in Belarus were free and guaranteed the Belarusian citizens' right to vote. According to him, this conclusion was supported by all representatives of the countries that partook in the CIS observation mission and was unanimously accepted based on the principles of "objectivity, willingness and the respect for the law of the monitored state". Although this mission was dominated by Russian delegates, the political affiliation to this organization supposes a tacit consent of Moldova, or, at least a duality of position.

Regardless of political and economic arguments, Moldavan officials must clearly disapprove the deviations from the democratic principles taking place in Belarus. Thus, the officials have the opportunity to reprove the "sovereign democracy" of an authoritarian type still in place in Belarus and actively promoted by Russia throughout the ex-soviet space. Of these reasons, Russia refused to condemn the violent suppression of the protests in Minsk, hardly overlooking the fact that Russian journalists were among the victims. Putting aside the duty to respect human rights and freedoms, Russian side reiterated the conclusions made by the CIS observers. [6] Protecting its safety and its own repressive style of ruling, despite the fact that it supports Lukashenko - the official enemy, the Kremlin has approved the Belarusian authorities' actions against peaceful protesters.

Probably, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from Chisinau would have reacted more harshly if the current government had gone in 2009 through the same experience as the Belarusian opposition. Anyway, the authorities will have to strengthen their position with more categorical statements in order to prove Moldova`s European affinity, to sustain the democratic movement in Belarus, thus indirectly promoting freedom of association and freedom of expression, severely violated by Moldavan Communists in April 2009 and by Lukashenko`s regime representatives in December 2010.

 

References:

1. Страны ЕС требуют немедленного освобождения всех арестованных в Минске, http://news.tut.by/daynews/209021.html

2. Poziţia MAEIE privind alegerile din Belarus, http://www.mfa.gov.md/comunicate-presa-md/483948/

3. Украина обеспокоена "непропорциональным применением силы" белорусскими властями, http://udf.by/news/politic/36835-ukraina-obespokoena-neproporcionalnym-primeneniem-sily-belorusskimi-vlastyami.html

4. Răspunzînd întrebărilor reprezentanţilor unor surse de informare în masă privind desfăşurarea procesului electoral şi rezultatele scrutinului din Republica Belarus, Ministerul Afacerilor Externe şi Integrării Europene menţionează [...]", http://www.mfa.gov.md/comunicate-presa-md/483948/

5. Belarus still has considerable way to go in meeting OSCE commitments, despite certain improvements, election observers say, http://www.osce.org/item/48242.html

6. О телефонном разговоре статс-секретаря - заместителя Министра иностранных дел России Г.Б.Карасина с первым заместителем Министра иностранных дел Белоруссии И.В.Петришенко, http://www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/0/91A90865055D7363C32578000042F482

 



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