As usual opposition is quite harsh, however the last allegation related to the pre-electoral undercurrent of the President’s move seems to have some grounds, especially given the previous experience of SSC reshuffles. The thing is that former presidents had their interest in the SSC, the more so, several months after elections and taking the oath and respectively on the eve of elections. It is normal, for the presidents to revise SSC membership once they are elected and validated in function, however it raises some eyebrows when they do so on the eve of elections or other events aimed to consolidate their power.
That was the case of President Mircea Snegur, who three months prior to presidential elections of December 1991 issued a decree setting up SSC. In 1993, when it was clear that the Parliament would be dissolved and early elections would be called, President Snegur issued a new decree on SSC calling to preserve socio-political stability in the country.
In his turn, several months after taking the oath in January 1997 President Lucinski issued a new Decree on setting up SSC. His Decree was in line with the Law on State Security passed in 1995, in particular Article 12 “SSC is a consultative body analyzing the activity of ministries and departments in ensuring national security and it submits recommendations to the President”’. The same Article reads “SSC membership (number and persons), its prerogatives and action plan are approved by the President of the Republic of Moldova”, who is the SSC Chairperson. President Lucinschi did not change the structure, however he did change its membership 7 times upon reshuffles in Government. What is striking is that the aforesaid changes coincided with President’s initiatives to amend the Constitution so as to turn the country into a presidential republic. Not less striking is President Lucinshi’s initiated replacement of the head of Information and Security Service, also member of the SSC, several months prior to Constitution modification and presidential elections scheduled for fall 2000.
The relationship between elections and changes to SSC is also relevant in the case of President Voronin. He also issued a decree setting up SSC half a year after taking the oath, while now half a year prior to electoral campaign he has issued yet another Decree in this respect. Subjectively speaking, one may say the three Presidents believed that state security was staked on their reelection. However experience shows that so far no President was reelected, whereas successors blamed their predecessors of undermining state security.
Objectively speaking, firstly the decree issued by President Voronin is in line with the Law on State Security passed back in 1995. New membership includes functions, included in the previous SSC at the time of President Mircea Snegur and Petru Lucinschi. Neither should Parliament Speaker, chairs of Parliament Commissions, Ministers or Department as SSC members come as a surprise. However, for the first time ever the Council includes Prosecutor General, Minister of Economy, National Bank Governor, Chief of Center for Fighting Economic Crime and Corruption and Governor of Gagauz-Yeri Autonomy, which is a sign of how the new challenges to state security are perceived.
The problem is that while President Voronin is busy doing charity, raising monuments, traveling on the pioneers’ paths — actions intended to facelift his new electoral image, the situation in the country gets worse and worse. Citizens learned from President himself that there is foresters’ Mafia as well as a Bread Mafia in the country, etc. Suddenly Prosecutors started appealing to the President by means of open letters. Minister of Economy offers interviews on dire economic straits in the country and thus steals the best tunes from opposition. Ministry of Finance and National Bank do not know how to handle the huge foreign currency flow wired by Moldovan citizens working abroad. Appreciation of national currency boosts imports thereby ruining domestic producers and exporters alike. Working citizens continue to flee the country. Federalization of the country according to the proposed models might produce effects hard to imagine. Indeed, all the aforesaid undermines state security and it is therefore clear why the aforesaid dignitaries were recruited into SSC.
Moreover, dysfunction between the branches of power came to the limelight. President refused to promulgate the Law on Off-shore Tax developed by the Government. Leaders of the ruling party criticize Government’s initiative to issue new car registration certificates, for fear that the move would scare away hundreds of thousands of drivers, i.e. voters. President had to answer in public why the ruling party cannot halt the price hike on food and fuel, as his party did promise in the previous elections.
Under those circumstances, President probably felt the need to better coordinate the activity of key state institutions, therefore it may well happen that SSC would become a kind of headquarters of the ruling party’s electoral staff. This is the more so given that last year OSCE report pointed to the massive interference of the law enforcement forces (police, Information and Security Service, Prosecution) in the electoral campaign by intimidating opposition and favoring ruling party candidates. In this respect, state-run media every now and then reminds citizens that leaders of main opposition parties are under investigation; which is yet another action to be coordinated. Things wouldn’t look so gloomy if there were mechanisms of public control over state institutions put in place. In 2002 President Voronin came up with a draft law in this respect, it was even voted by Parliament, however later on the President changed his mind on promoting his own initiative.