Week of Monday, July 12, 2021 | Issue 40
Flavien Baumgartner, Zach Zoltani, EUCOM Team
Presidential Candidate Maia Sandu
Date: July 13, 2021
Parties involved: Moldovan Government
The event: On Tuesday, July 13, 2021, Moldova’s main pro-European party, Action and Solidarity (PAS), won a clear majority in parliament after President Maia Sandu called for a snap parliamentary election. Sandu called for the snap election in April to strengthen her position against pro-Russian forces. The election handed former President Igor Dodon’s Socialists and Communists (BCES) party significant losses.
This will be the first time a single pro-European party has a full majority in parliament. Obtaining a full parliamentary majority will allow the PAS party to implement new reforms to eliminate corrupt judges and prosecutors from the justice system. Eliminating corruption and cleaning up institutions dependent on corrupt groups will likely allow more money to go to the Moldovan population, rather than the institutions taking public money through different illegal corruption schemes. Sandu’s push for reforms will still likely be met with severe opposition from former President Igor Dodon and his pro-Russian BCES party as they attempt to salvage political clout. If they can successfully prevent new reforms, Moldova will unlikely make significant progress.
A more democratic Moldovan government will likely help forge closer ties with the European Union (EU), making it possible for Moldova to gain membership to the EU. In the past, closer ties with the EU have been hindered by high levels of corruption and lack of reform, but if Sandu and the PAS can effectively achieve their goals, it is likely Moldova will move closer towards EU accession.
Additionally, Sandu will likely seek to push Moldova away from Russia’s sphere of influence as it attempts to progress its integration into the EU. Sandu will most likely call to remove all Russian troops stationed in Transnistria, which would be detrimental to Russian influence in Moldova. It is likely that Sandu will want to maintain good relations with Moscow because of its need to access the Russian market, the interests of Moldovans working in Russia, and to avoid straining relations with Russia. Moldova’s reliance and admiration for Russia will certainly be much less, with Sandu leading the country than pro-Russian, Dodon.
Date: July 14, 2021
Parties involved: Belarusian Government; Vyasna Human Rights Center; Belarusian Helsinki Committee
The event: On Wednesday, July 14, 2021, the Belarusian police raided the offices of 19 non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These NGOs included the Vyasna Human Rights Center and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, where at least 12 individuals were detained during the raids.
The Belarusian government and authorities continue to imprison, harass, and threaten journalists, activists, and opposition leaders since mass protests arose after the disputed elections in August 2020, which resulted in President Alexander Lukashenko winning a sixth term. The recent raids and detentions aimed at human rights groups, including Vyasna, the largest human rights body in Belarus and one of the main sources of information on political detentions and arrests, likely signifies that Lukashenko is further ramping up his crackdown on dissent. Lukashenko is most likely targeting the primary sources of information directly to silence the dissent coming from regime critics.
As Western sanctions remain in place and continue to be imposed, the regime will almost certainly escalate its crackdown on Belarusian civil society. Intensified government crackdowns will likely increase dissent and further separate opposition and the West from Lukashenko. Further separation from the West will certainly increase Belarusian dependence on Russia as it seeks to continue receiving support. Escalating Belarusian dependency on Russia allows Russia to exert economic and political influence in the region and provides a barrier against European encroachment upon former Soviet territories, such as Ukraine.
Date: July 14, 2021
Parties involved: Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili; Private Georgian Media (Mtavari, TV Pirveli, Formula, and Kavkasia); LGBTQ+ Community
The event: On Wednesday, July 14, 2021, four private television stations in Georgia, Mtavari, TV Pirveli, Formula, and Kavkasia, suspended broadcasting for 24 hours and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili. The suspensions of broadcast and demands came after recent attacks on LGBTQ+ activists and journalists, including the death of Alexander Lashkarava, a cameraman for TV Pirveli. Prime Minister Gharibashvili largely responded by depicting government critics and LGBTQ+ organizers as tools of the United National Movement (ENM) or other components of the opposition.
Private television companies seek to highlight the challenges Georgian independent media face, including the lack of protection for journalists. Lashkarava’s death emphasizes the violent animosity toward sexual minorities in the country, and media companies are highlighting the inadequate protection for Georgian minority groups.
Prime Minister Gharibashvili’s choice to portray opposition groups as the provocateurs behind the recent violence demonstrates his strong support for the anti-LGBTQ+ majority, disregarding the rights of minority groups. Constraining minorities by the will of the government and violent groups is concerning for the country as it is indicative of a dictatorship. Failing to uphold basic human rights will most likely damage EU-Georgia relations and hinder Georgia's pro-European aspirations. It is very likely opposition parties will increase their anti-government rhetoric and continue pushing for Gharibashvili’s resignation. This will certainly polarize Georgian society and lead to increased violence between anti-LGBTQ+ groups and pro-LGBTQ+ supporters.
 "Presidential candidate Maia Sandu, Chisinau, 12 November 2016" by oscepa, licensed under Creative Commons
 “Pro-EU party in Moldova wins clear majority in election,” AP News, July 12, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/europe-business-government-and-politics-elections-moldova-a0a8cb2248540b18060dd640482194c6