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West hails Moldova’s new PM to prevent pro-Russian forces gain upper hand

January 21, 19:15 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Vadim Denisov

MOSCOW, January 21. /TASS/. The appointment of Moldova’s new prime minster is clear evidence the ruling majority is keen to avoid triggering early parliamentary elections, fraught with its utter defeat. Support for the proposed candidate from the United States and the European Union is another factor behind the fast-tracked endorsement of a new head of government. The West’s chief aim is to prevent pro-Russian forces, which have gained popularity with the rise of Moldova’s protest movement, from coming to power. It is even prepared to turn a blind eye to the fact the newly-appointed prime minister is from the inner circle of notorious oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, whose name in Moldova is synonymous with thriving corruption.

Moldova’s President Nicolae Timofti on Wednesday signed a decree to give the prime minister’s seat to Pavel Filip, from the Democratic Party of Moldova, of which Plahotniuc is the actual leader. Before that the country’s parliament approved of the composition of the Cabinet, which consists of the very same ruling parties. Earlier, the Democratic Party of Moldova had nominated Plahotniuc for premiership, but the president dismissed it, saying there had been suspicions Plahotniuc failed to meet "incorruptibility criteria." Early parliamentary elections would have followed, if a new prime minister had not been approved by January 29.

Analysts believe that Washington played a major role in propelling Filip to the prime minister’s office. US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, on Monday openly came out in support of the parliamentary majority the Democratic Party of Moldova had formed.

Moldova’s political crisis has been smoldering since September 2015, when the first protest rallies swept Chisinau. Angry demonstrators took to the streets in the wake of the "theft of the century" row - last spring’s scandal over a group of civil servants who had defrauded the country’s three largest banks of $1 billion of Western aid, which eventually ended up on offshore accounts. The government stepped down last October. The pro-European parties have been unable to form a Cabinet ever since.

The protesters’ ranks were greatly varied: from the pro-European movement Dignity and Truth to left-of-centre opposition: Igor Dodon’s Socialists and Renato Usatii’s Our Party. All are demanding early elections. A crowd of protesters gathered in front of the parliament’s building on Wednesday. Both left-and right-wing opposition rose in revolt against the appointment of the big business tycoon’s stooge. Thousands of protesters stormed the building and made their way inside.

True, support from the West is obvious, but the ruling majority itself played a major role in forming the government, the leading research fellow at the Russian presidential academy RANEPA, Sergey Bespalov, told TASS. "They are aware there is no place for them to retreat. If the government is not formed now, early elections and a crushing defeat would be imminent."

The current situation as it is, an absolute majority of Moldovan society has no confidence in the authorities at all. It supports the idea of early elections, while the number of EU supporters is falling, he said.

For the United States, says Bespalov, "the foreign policy vector is of exclusive importance."

"If parliamentary elections were to be held today, pro-Russian and pro-Eurasian forces would have great chances of getting a majority in parliament, albeit not a very big one," he predicts.

As for the European Union, while criticizing big business tycoons and urging a crackdown on corruption, it never refuses to extend a helping hand to the current authorities. "The Europeans were critical of the oligarchs all the way. Plahotniuc was certainly not their candidate of choice. Yet, the EU preferred to throw its weight behind the current authorities just to keep the pro-Eurasian forces away from the leverage of power. Of course, they do hope that with time, if the elections are postponed, the pro-Russian forces will waste the political capital they have gained over months."

Bespalov remarked that the oppositional leaders were certainly unprepared to go as far as violent actions.

"As the protesters stormed the parliament building, the opposition’s leaders were persuading them not to do that. In a situation like this the crisis may last indefinitely. When it will grind to a halt is anyone’s guess," Bespalov said.

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