On the one hand, it is perfectly reasonable that things are as they are, especially since one of the promises ruling party made in elections was bringing Republic of Moldova into the Russia-Belarus Union. It is all-too-clear that only regimes sharing similar values and believes may merge. Still during its first years in power ruling party was far more cautious. That caused much sadness among party dogmatics who used to bemoan that President Voronin was neither Fidel Castro, albeit he had promised to turn Moldova into a European Cuba, nor at least Alexandr Lukasenko.
Probably, leaders of the ruling party decided to stop disappointing their followers and therefore with fresh polls in legislature coming they more often resort to the Lukashenko’s methods of keeping social, political and economic life under control, which by all means is of paramount importance in securing victory in elections. There are evidences to this effect.
For a start, Moldovan authorities seem to follow Belarus example in dealing with the cut-off of foreign political and financial support. In this respect Lukashenko established partnership ties with Libya, whereas Moldovan authorities with Kuwait. Official propaganda did it best in reporting that the credit to be provided to Moldova as a result of the official visit paid by President Voronin to Kuwait, was provided on the very same terms as the ones granted by international monetary institutions. However, in contrast to IMF and WB, Kuwait did not require any economic reforms, or halting private business persecution. Similarly, governmental propaganda couldn’t help admiring Kuwait’s lack of political parties as such, as well as the fact that Emir’s words are equal to law, that is the case of Belarus as well, which has become a source of inspiration for Moldovan authorities.
Another source of inspiration was the way Lukashenko settles scores with his political foes. Thus in Belarus the legislative body lacks a financial department, function overtaken by the presidential office. Whenever, deputies are due to pay official visits they have to ask the presidency to cover their expenses, i.e. explain the purpose of the visit and ask for permission. Similarly, this practice gains grounds in Moldova. Under a draft law endorsed by Government in January public officers should ask the permission of State Chancellery first and notify Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the purpose of a foreign visit or any invitation they had issued to foreign counterparts. It is indeed a normal practice to co-ordinate official visits paid by high rank dignitaries. However, those rules should not apply to private visits. Serafim Urechean’s recent private visit to Moscow, who is seen as number 1 foe of the ruling party, has outraged Communist party moguls. They suspected Chisinau Mayor of gaining Moscow’s support, thereby unseating Vladimir Voronin. On this occasion government controlled media featured a number of articles and reports on how incumbent Mayor would be persecuted for breaching the new rules.
Another a la Lukashenko stunt was the reaction to OSCE Head of Mission statement. William Hill had been accused by Presidential Councillor Mark Tkaciuk of interfering in the internal affairs of the Republic of Moldova and turning the mission into an electoral office of the opposition. Belarus authorities did the very same thing on the eve of presidential elections of September 2001 that led to the shut down of OSCE Mission in Belarus.
What is striking is the fact that head of OSCE Mission in Moldova was criticised for simply reiterating the conclusions of the Mission’s reports produced after last parliamentary elections, recommending among others lowering the 6% threshold of representation. In the three years since OSCE report was made public, Moldovan authorities did not follow on it so as to establish a level playing field for all contestants, but on the contrary raised further barriers by introducing the progressive threshold of up to 12% for electoral blocs. Having said that the only thing left for the Mission was to stood up for rights of the 28% of citizens whose votes were simply neglected and were redistributed mainly to the Communist Party. The latter is not in the Communist Party’s best interest as it secured them an extra 40% of mandates. Consequently, nowadays they are able to pursue policies that run counter to the interests of the half a million people who did vote but whose options were not represented in Parliament.
Still, there are many differences between Republic of Moldova and Belarus. Incumbent ruling party seized the power in Moldova seven years after Lukashenko did, when the economic, political and legal landscape was totally different from that in 1994. Nevertheless, considering Moldova’s veering towards Belarus model one may easily predict how would be Moldova treated by international community, neighbourhood countries, including Russia, if it follows the same path, especially since it declared joining EU as one of its top priorities.