The protest mounted last Sunday signals the appearance of a new phase of turbulence in Moldovan society or at least a new phase of turbulence in the relations between a part of the political opposition and the government. Any kind of turbulence generates interest and also concern. The motives, goals, eventual developments and the benefits and risks of such protests were discussed by the experts invited to a public debate staged by IPN News Agency.
Igor Boțan, the standing expert of IPN’s project, said that Article 40 of the Constitution refers to the freedom of assembly, stipulating that the meetings, demonstrations, protests or any other kind of assemblies are free and can be organized and held peacefully, without any arms. Based on these constitutional provisions, the legislation on assembly was developed in time and the large-scale protests mounted after in 2002 led to the adoption of the current version of the law on assembly.
“The law proved its efficiency after protests started to be staged against the billion theft in 2015. But in 2018, Parliament intervened to made particular corrections to this law and let’s remember the special context in which these limitations were introduced,” stated Igor Boțan. According to him, currently the given law offers the citizens of the Republic of Moldova the right to protest peacefully. “If we analyze the structure of the law, it’s clear that it is comprehensible and the citizens can only enjoy the right to assembly. Moreover, polls show 15% of the Moldovan citizens are ready to take part in protests so as to defend their rights”.
The expert said the law allows mounting only peaceful protests. But there is the experience of the peaceful protest of 2009, which was obstructed. The events of April 2009 are a lesson that should be learned by society and the authorities - namely that all the protests should be within the law. The protests initiated last week are aimed at defending the rights of a citizen, even if this is a high-ranking official – the prosecutor general.
Vladimir Odnostalco, MP of the Bloc of Communists and Socialists, said that the political class, the representatives of the so-called civil society always criticized the police, the prosecution service and other bodies and they were often right in the case of illegalities. But in the recent protests, the people took to the streets to defend the prosecutor general and this happens for the first time, being a signal that should be taken into account, first of all by the current government that is now called “regime”. Ordinary people not only from Chisinau, but from a number of districts too came to that protest to defend and support the prosecutor general.
“This shows that there are people in the Prosecutor General’s Office, even if there are also clans there. But the same prosecutor general stopped the pressure exerted on business entities and dropped a number of cases started against the political opposition - the same Missis Sandu, PAS, Usatîi’s Our Party and particular mayors,” stated the MP.
According to him, this protest is important as it is for equity and justice. But Alexandr Stoianoglo is supported by a lot of people and not only by the forces of the left, even if they earlier said that he was affiliated with these. Alexandr Stoianoglo always struggled for justice and showed that he is honest. “He worked to build a healthy prosecutor’s office from inside, fighting corruption and showing honesty and patriotism. That’s why the mounted protests are for justice, while Stoianoglo embodies justice and equity,” said the BCS MP.
Marcela Adam, MP of the Party of Action and Solidarity, said the protest mounted last Sunday was exclusively political in character, in support of a system that until now didn’t act in the interests of the citizens. Her Socialist mate argued that this is the first protest in support of the prosecutor general, but she considers the protest was triggered by particular amendments made to the law on the production service, concerning the assessment of the prosecutor general. Namely these changes generated moves in the Moldovan political sphere.
According to her, the protest was political and not for equity or for justice. “Analyzing the messages formulated at the protest and at who they were aimed, it’s clear that this is not a civic protest,” stated Marcela Adam, noting that particular actions that are within the remit of MPs, not of the President were invoked. They said that the people who protested came out of their own free will, but there is information that a lot of the people came to the protest after they were paid. “The protest is a civic action and when it is staged to defend the interests of citizens it is a democratic action. When these protests are organized in the hidden interests of political parties or other groups, questions appear.”
The MP noted that Alexandr Stoianoglo, as any other citizen of the Republic of Moldova, should enjoy a fair trial, if a trial takes place. The Superior Council of Prosecutors only examined the complaint. The prosecutors in charge of this case are those who should provide information about the developments. “And I thus cannot understand why the protesters leveled their accusations at the President, MPs, the government in general? Why do the colleagues from the opposition speak about a “regime”? We should not forget what regime we overcame recently.”
The public debate “Last Sunday’s protest: motives, goals, social basis, eventual developments, benefits and risks” that was organized by IPN in the framework of the project “Developing Political Culture trough Public Debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.