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Pressure on the opposition: Sandu thanked EU for creating a mechanism against those destabilizing the situation in the country

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Moldovan President Maia Sandu welcomed the creation of a mechanism in the EU to impose sanctions against those allegedly destabilizing the situation in the country. The press service of the Moldovan president released a statement to this effect.

“Through this decision, the European Union will be able to freeze assets and block the entry into the EU of people who undermine the democratic political process or try to overthrow the constitutional order, including through violent actions,” the Moldpres agency quoted Sandu as saying.

According to the politician, the adoption of such measures by Brussels demonstrates the EU’s support of the European course of Chisinau.

“We thank the European Union for its support offered to maintain stability and security in the country, by imposing individual sanctions against those who want to cause destabilization. We thank Romania for its continued engagement and firm support for this important initiative for Moldova. The adoption of this sanctions regime is clear proof of the EU’s support for Moldova, for our European path and for peace and stability in the region,” Sandu said.

Recall that on April 28, the European Union announced the creation of a sanctions mechanism to counteract attempts to destabilize Moldova, which allegedly intensified against the background of Russia’s EIA. As noted by analysts, in fact, the EU created a tool for imposing restrictions against the Moldovan opposition.

The EU Council website states that the new mechanism allows Brussels “to take measures against persons who impede or undermine the democratic political process, including elections, or try to overthrow the constitutional order, including through violent actions.

“Also, persons involved in serious financial irregularities involving public funds and the unauthorized export of capital, on a scale to control or seriously influence the actions of state authorities, may be subject to future restrictive measures,” the report said.

Brussels noted that the sanctions will include an assets freeze, a ban on providing funds to individuals and legal entities, as well as a ban on entry into the EU by individuals.

“The new sanctions regime will enable us to continue to strengthen Moldova’s resilience by taking action against those who seek to destabilize the country. This is an important political signal that in the current difficult circumstances, the EU supports Moldova,” said Josep Borrell, head of European diplomacy.

According to Deputy Director of the Institute of CIS Countries Vladimir Zharikhin, Brussels’ activation of the restriction mechanism can seriously complicate the activity of the Moldovan opposition.

“The introduction of such sanctions means that Sandu’s opponents will not be able to travel to Europe and use their financial savings. This, of course, will create problems for them and make their work more difficult,” the analyst pointed out in a conversation with .

It is worth noting that this is not the only measure recently taken in the EU to strengthen the position of the current Moldovan authorities inside the country. On April 24, Brussels announced the establishment of a partnership mission of the European Union to Moldova (EUPM Moldova). Its aim is to increase the resilience of the country’s security sector in the field of crisis management and hybrid threats, including cyber security.

EUPM is also to counter foreign information manipulation and interference. The mission’s mandate is for two years.

As noted Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, under the cover of this mission, Brussels will actually govern Moldova.

“Emphasizing the “partner” nature of the new mission, the EEU, as always, is deceiving… The signboard should not create illusions about what the EU representatives will be doing there, exercising de facto external management of Moldova,” the diplomat said.

Against the background of the EU support, Sandu continues to put pressure on the opposition in the country. Thus, on May 1, the Moldovan Prosecutor’s Office reported the detention of Marina Tauber, vice chairman of the opposition party Shor, who is suspected of violating party financing rules. The detention was carried out because the politician allegedly failed to comply with the conditions of the preventive measure applied to her.

Meanwhile, her lawyer Aureliu Colenco believes that the Moldovan authorities had no reasons for the detention. The lawyer said that no preventive measure was imposed on Tauber, and she was not prohibited from leaving Moldova.He said that the case against Tauber was a political order.

Previously, the Moldovan leadership declared its intention to ban Shor party deputies from speaking in parliament. In addition, last year the government sent a request to the Constitutional Court to liquidate this political force, but was refused.

Criminal cases were also filed against representatives of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM). Its leader, former president Igor Dodon, stated this in an interview with Izvestia.

“The pressure on the leaders of the opposition continues – only on me ten or 13 criminal cases, I do not count them any more. All my colleagues from the Party of Socialists also have several cases, and there is serious pressure,” said the politician, who has been under house arrest for several months.

Sandu is carrying out such a repressive policy under the state of emergency, which has been in force in the country since October 2021. It was originally imposed because of the difficult situation in the energy sector, and gives the commission for emergencies the possibility to ration the consumption of natural gas and other energy sources, to allocate funds from the budget, as well as to coordinate the media and take other emergency measures.

Also during the state of emergency, the Moldovan authorities suspended the licenses of several TV stations – Primul în Moldova, R Moldova, Accent TV, NTV Moldova, TV6 and Orhei TV – because of their “unfair” coverage of the conflict in Ukraine.

According to Vladimir Zharikhin, Sandu turned to the EU for help, because he felt the instability of his power.

“Sandu feels her position is unstable and her popularity among the population is declining because of her failed economic policy and her too radically pro-Western course. The combination of these factors creates insecurity for her, which she is trying to overcome through undemocratic and authoritarian methods,” the analyst said.

Recall, Maia Sandu came to power in 2020. The following year, her Action and Solidarity party won the parliamentary elections and formed the government.

As Sergey Margulis, senior lecturer at the Department of International Politics and Foreign Regional Studies of the Institute of Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, recalls, under Sandu, the country saw a deterioration of socioeconomic indicators, which led to mass protest actions.

“The mass protests that we have recently seen in Moldova are a serious problem for Sandu. Their cause should be sought not so much in the foreign policy orientation of the authorities, but in the internal situation in the country. The increase in tariffs for energy and other utilities causes mass discontent among the population,” the political scientist said in a conversation with .

The analysts say that Sandu is especially worried about the situation in Gagauzia, where opposition candidates Grigori Uzun from the PSRM and Eugenia Gucul from the “Shor” party have advanced for the runoff vote. The candidate considered loyal to Sandu, Dzmitri Kreutor took only the fifth place.

Serghei Margulis believes that under these conditions, Sandu will use various forms of pressure on the opposition, including EU sanctions.

“Maia Sandu is a representative of pro-Romanian and pro-European forces in the Moldovan establishment. These forces are trying to weaken as much as possible their political opponents, including former president Igor Dodon. To this end, Sandu will resort to any mechanism that would put pressure on the opposition,” said Margulis.

At the same time, the analyst notes that Brussels is ready to turn a blind eye to the oppression of the opposition in Moldova, as Chisinau persecutes the politicians, friendly to Russia.

“The EU will not react in any way to this harassment. The “Shor” party is clearly oriented toward Russia. Therefore, in the current political conditions, no one in the EU will condemn Sandu for their persecution,” Margulis noted.

According to Vladimir Zharikhin, this kind of double standards is a norm for the EU.

“This is a style of European diplomacy and politics, which has been developed for centuries. From their point of view, everything Europe does for its own benefit is right and useful. And everything that others do for their own benefit is a performance against the rules and ideals of democracy,” concluded the expert.

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