6 Oct 2021 19:30

Moldovan Socialists preparing rally against prosecutor general's detention

CHISINAU. Oct 6 (Interfax) - The Party of Socialists of Moldova (PSRM) has declared its intention to organize protests following the detention of Prosecutor General Alexandr Stoianoglo.

"We propose holding a mass protest demonstration without political flags, where everyone will be able to voice their position," PSRM Executive Secretary and Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Vlad Batrincea said.

"We'll gather for a protest in defense of democracy and the rule of law [in Chisinau] on Sunday," Batrincea said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

Batrincea proposed taking to the streets "to fight for democracy, for just courts, and respect for the rule of law."

"We are addressing the diplomatic missions accredited in the Republic of Moldova. We really wonder why no response from international organizations and diplomatic institutions has yet appeared in the public environment," Batrincea said.

The prosecutor general's arrest by masked people means that Moldova might reinstate the practices of past years, "with the only exception being that [fugitive oligarch] Vladimir Plahotniuc is not in the country now," he said.

The PSRM has demanded making public the documents that Stoianoglo was preparing to present at a press briefing on Tuesday before being detained half an hour before it was to take place.

PSRM parliamentarian Vasile Bolea also criticized the haste with which a criminal case was opened and Stoianoglo was arrested.

Meanwhile, a demonstration in support of Stoianoglo has already taken place in the town of Comrat, the administrative center of Gagauzia in southern Moldova, attended by several dozen people carrying flags of Gagauzia and the Gagauz Halki civil society group.

Vladimir Cissa, former speaker of the Gagauz People's Assembly, described Stoianoglo's arrest as "an act of political reprisals."

"I don't see any jurisprudence here. It took only three hours to dismiss the man and detain him. The people are outraged. The baskan [governor] of Gagauzia is also outraged," Cissa said.

Some speakers at the demonstration argued that "the central government in Moldova wanted to dismiss Stoianoglo from his office just because they didn't want to have an ethnic Gagauz in the office of Moldovan prosecutor general."

The participants in the demonstration adopted an address to the central Moldovan administration urging it "to abandon the practices of a captured state and the persecution of opponents."

Former Moldovan President and current PSRM Chairman Igor Dodon, who is on a private visit to Moscow at the moment, has described Stoianoglo's detention as "a fatal error" by the incumbent authorities.

On Tuesday, the Superior Council of Prosecutors decided to open a criminal case against Stoianoglo. He has been charged with committing a series of dubious transactions with fugitive oligarch Veaceslav Platon. Anti-corruption prosecutors and officers of the Information and Security Service entered the building of the Moldovan Prosecutor General's Office half an hour before Stoianoglo's press briefing, which was due to start at 6:00 p.m. After searching his office, they took Stoianoglo home, where a search continued for several more hours.

Stoianoglo faces charges under four articles of Moldova's Criminal Code: abuse of office, exceeding his authority, passive corruption, and perjury.

Stoianoglo, for his part, said at a press conference on Tuesday that the new Moldovan authorities were putting pressure on the Prosecutor General's Office, trying to force him to resign, but he was not going to do so.

Moldovan President Maia Sandu said on Wednesday, in relation to the detention of Stoianoglo, that "the expectations of Moldovan citizens are lawful: to live in a country free of corrupt clans."

"People demand justice. And the state's institutions responsible for fighting corruption must heed these expectations and must always act in accordance with the law. The president of the country wants the same as other citizens: that the law must be strictly obeyed, that there should not be any abuse, and that anyone who has done something illegal must be held to account in accordance with the law," Sandu said.