How deputies in Eastern European countries are stolen to strengthen Russia’s influence
    Share article:
    Share article:

    How deputies in Eastern European countries are stolen to strengthen Russia’s influence

    Saturday, 04 July 2020
    This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.

    In the Republic of Moldova, a small country in Eastern Europe, which is now the regional leader in the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the political situation is heating up.

    The pro-Russian government in this country, controlled by the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM), has recently lost several deputies, who have chosen to join other parties in the country’s parliament.

    The phenomenon takes place against the background of pandemic crises and an economic decline. However, the situation escalated when a deputy, who would have assured the opposition a parliamentary majority, left the coalition. The government in Chisinau, close to the Kremlin and Putin, essentially resorted to the kidnapping of this deputy.

    The rift

    On the last day of June, the Socialist MP from Chisinau Parliament, Stefan Gațcan, a doctor by profession, announced that he is leaving the governing coalition, being dissatisfied with the way the authorities manage the pandemic crisis.

    Almost immediately, his former colleagues pressured him to resign. The police stopped the deputy on the street, and two former colleagues, leading deputies from PSRM, got into his car to convince him to resign from the position of deputy.

    Later on, they tried to intimidate him, organizing protests in front of a clinic founded by Gațcan, as well as in front of his house. Moldovan media wrote that the doctor’s relatives were also threatened.

    The pro-Russian supporters in Chisinau reacted nervously to the announcement of Gațcan’s withdrawal from the PSRM faction because they lost the parliamentary majority recently, and after Gațcan’s withdrawal they were left with only 49 seats in Parliament. The opposition consequently had the chance to form a new majority, so Russia did not admit this situation.

    The next morning, Gațcan filed a complaint with the General Prosecutor’s Office in which he noted that he was blackmailed and threatened to resign as a deputy. The deputy also wrote that he worries about the safety of his relatives.

    Seized and held hostage

    Shortly afterwards, news began to appear that the doctor was being held hostage in the Parliament building by PSRM deputies. There was even a picture of Gațcan being intimidated in an office with socialist parliamentarians.

    It was announced that Gațcan resigned. The respective news was intensely circulated by the press controlled by PSRM. Members of the parliamentary opposition reacted immediately. They blocked the doors of the Parliament, and later went to the Presidency, where the deputy was allegedly taken in secret. The presidency of the Republic of Moldova is the residence of President Igor Dodon, a populist politician who is criticized for always falling in favor of Vladimir Putin.

    In front of the Presidency, the situation escalated to the point that whereby an opposition deputy, who blocked one of the gates, was taken on the hood of a car coming out of the courtyard of the presidential institution.

    About six hours had passed and no one knew anything about the deputy. Not even his family. Towards evening, on the Facebook page of Ștefan Gațcan’s election campaign, administered by PSRM, a short video was published, on the edge of a vineyard, in which the deputy says in a changed voice that he is OK, no one seized him and that he doesn’t want to communicate with anyone yet.

    Observers noted that this message appeared on a page managed by PSRM and Gațcan’s personal one. About the same time, pro-Russian authorities in Chisinau, the capital of the Republic of Moldova, announced that the Socialist deputies had asked the State Protection and Guard Service of the Republic of Moldova to provide security for Dr. Stefan Gaţcan, on the pretext that he was threatened by PRO MOLDOVA, an opposition party that Gațcan had joined a day earlier.

    Worth noting that two days later, Ștefan Gațcan appeared in another video where he also wore a mask (this despite being filmed inside where Ștefan Gatcan was alone), which has led several sources to suspect his face was injured  after having been beaten by deputies from PSRM. After this video, which was filmed a few days ago, no one has heard anything else about Ștefan Gațcan.

    The opposition condemns

    The seizure of Stefan Gațcan by pro-Russian socialist deputies has been condemned harshly by the main leaders of opposition parties in Moldova.

    Among other things, the vice-president of the DA Platform, Deputy Igor Munteanu, declared that the incident in the Parliament is “phantasmagoric”, related to the Criminal Code and suggested that behind this action would be President Dodon, “who probably wants to be a little like Erdogan “.

    Maia Sandu, the leader of the influential pro-European Action and Solidarity Party (PAS), said that what happened to Ștefan Gațcan is a serious phenomenon. “First they make Gațcan deputy of Hâncești, and glorify him, then they divide him among them and sell him to whomever gives more, then curse him, then threaten him and blackmail him, then lock him in the cellars to get what they want,” Sandu wrote on Facebook.

    Dodon crosses the red lines for the sake of Russia

    This suspicious story has attracted the attention of diplomats, NGOs, and activists in Chisinau. Several voices in this country believe that the pro-Russian government will cross all red lines to keep its power in Chisinau in Russia’s interest.

    The case of doctor Gațcan shows just how far President Igor Dodon, who de facto controls the power in Chisinau, can go. This, especially considering that presidential elections are planned in Moldova in November, where Igor Dodon will run, more than likely, for a second term. The Kremlin will do everything possible to push its favorite for the presidency, even if that candidate is increasingly hated by its own citizens.

    The political situation remains uncertain for the time being, but more and more voices are essentially calling for the establishment of a dictatorship in the Republic of Moldova, the poorest country in Europe.

    More and more people are also demanding the coagulation of opposition forces, which are heterogeneous, with different political visions, backgrounds and doctrines, but which, at the moment appear to have only one goal – reducing the influence of Igor Dodon and the administrative resources he could benefit from the autumn election campaign, given that it currently controls both the Government and the Parliament’s leadership, as well as all state institutions, including the police, the army, the security service and the prosecutor’s office.