An unknown assailant threw a grenade at the house of the governor of Moldova’s central bank overnight, RFE/RL reports:
Bank chief Dorin Dragutanu and his family were asleep when the grenade hit in the early hours. The blast damaged the building and the incident is being investigated as an act of terrorism…..Dragutanu tendered his resignation to parliament in September, saying he was being used as a scapegoat by politicians over a banking scandal in which $1 billion disappeared from the country’s banking system.
The scandal has caused widespread public anger and the collapse of the government, but there was no indication that the attack was linked to recent protests in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau…..Meanwhile, pro-Russia opposition leaders said on February 1 that protests will resume after a weeklong pause in demonstrations calling for early elections.
Moldova has been in a state of political turmoil for months, The New York Times adds:
Many citizens have been protesting since September 2015 after more than $1 billion disappeared from three banks prior to the country’s November 2014 parliamentary election. New Prime Minister Pavel Filip has promised to reform the justice system and tackle corruption.
The EU must stop turning a blind eye to corruption in Moldova and start supporting its pro-democracy opposition, two leading analysts write for POLITICO.EU.
Many Western media outlets have described these events as popular, Russian-backed protests against a pro-European government — a sort of mirror image of Ukraine’s EuroMaidan movement two years ago. But that picture fundamentally misses the mark, according to Natalia Otel Belan, a senior program officer for Eurasia at the Center for International Private Enterprise [CIPE – a core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy], and Marc Schleifer, CIPE’s a regional director for Eurasia and South Asia:
While Russia certainly has an interest in keeping Moldova unstable and out of the European orbit, Moscow is not orchestrating these protests — and the country’s current government is hardly living up to its “pro-EU” billing. Moldovan activists are bewildered at how the story is being portrayed in the West. “It was extremely surprising to find that the European press reported on ‘antiEuropean protests following the appointment of a pro-EU Government,’” said Dumitru Alaiba, a prominent blogger and activist. “Then similar declarations from EU officials and institutions followed. I felt insulted. Many of us felt like that.”
The Moldovan protests do have one similarity with EuroMaidan: The dominant popular mood is frustration with pervasive corruption. In February 2015 it was revealed that approximately $1 billion, representing one-eighth of the Moldovan GDP, had vanished from the country’s banking system over the past four years — from three local banks in particular. As a result, the Moldovan Leu has lost a third of its value, consumer prices hiked, and wages among an already impoverished population fell even further, fueling mass emigration. RTWT
Transparency International last week published the Corruption Perceptions Index 2015, Aliaksei Jurych writes. Belarus came 11th of the 19 countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, outscoring Moldova (10th place) and Armenia (8th place).
Grants Competition for Mass Media
The Embassy of the United States of America announces an open grants competition for independent media in Moldova. During this round, the Democracy Commission Small Grants Program provides funding opportunities to independent media outlets and media NGOs for sustainable projects that help develop independent mass media in Moldova.
For this competition, the U.S. Embassy welcomes projects related to the following priorities:
- Free flow of information
- Freedom of speech and pluralisms of opinions
- Developing investigative journalism
- Promoting balanced and accurate reporting
- Expanding the reach of independent media
- Promoting media literacy.
- Projects can also include institutional development costs, equipment, studio décor, staff training.