Young Moldovans fight corruption as election nears

For Andrei Trupceac, the breaking point came when courts in his native Moldova overturned the results of a local election that had been won by an opposition candidate.

“That day I understood that justice doesn’t work here,” said the 30-year-old, one of thousands of people who protested the decision last summer in the Moldovan capital Chisinau.

Trupceac is now part of a wave of young Moldovans, in the country and abroad, campaigning against corruption ahead of a general election on Sunday.

A week before the vote, he handed out anti-corruption leaflets in the small town of Orhei, north of Chisinau in this poor ex-Soviet republic wedged between Romania and Ukraine.

Last year the country ranked 117 out of 180 nations in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. The NGO warned the government was putting pressure on activists.

The World Bank meanwhile said in a recent report that Moldova was “captured by oligarchic interests”.

“Successive governments promised to combat corruption and transform the judiciary… but little has changed on the ground”, it noted.

‘Used to corruption’

Some in the country’s large diaspora have decided to come back from work or study abroad to protest corruption before the election.

Among them are Alex Mihailenco, a 33-year-old who works as a start-up developer in London and is behind a movement called “Free Moldova”.

“Sunday’s legislative elections are an opportunity to try to heal the country,” he told AFP in Chisinau.

“Moldovans have got used to daily corruption, they think it’s the same in all countries, but it’s not true,” he added.

“Free Moldova” uses online donations to print informational leaflets and posters, he said.

Maria, a 27-year-old who declined to give her last name, had also temporarily returned to Moldova from Britain for the vote.

She welcomed the birth of civil society in her home country, though many compatriots did not understand the need for such a movement.

“It’s something new which has nothing to do with our Soviet heritage,” Maria said.

The pair are among almost 800,000 Moldovans, of a population of 3.5 million, who work abroad and send money to their families back at home.

These transfers — estimated last year to total around $1.2 billion — are the equivalent of 20 percent of Moldova’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to the World Bank.

Dirty money

Sunday’s election is shaping up to be a three-way race between the pro-Russian Socialist party of President Igor Dodon, the ruling Democratic party, and a pro-European alliance.

Moldova signed an association agreement with the European Union in 2014, but Moscow still exerts a strong influence in the region.

In rural areas, young activists are received with hostility and accused of being paid by “foreign interests”.

But those campaigning to clear dirty money out of politics insist they have no ulterior motives.

Lilia Nenescu, a 25-year-old anthropology graduate based in Chisinau, said she dreams of “changing the world, as naive as this sounds”.

“We don’t want to see our country governed by oligarchs anymore, even if they give electoral presents and are buying votes,” she added.

Published in Daily Times, February 22nd 2019.


Recent Posts

Punjab govt extends transfer policy of education deptt till 30th May

Punjab Minister for School Education Murad Rass has extended the date for submission of applications for transfer under e-transfer policy…

10 mins ago

Denmark’s fabulous food journey, from hearty fare to haute cuisine

Long known for their hearty meat-and-potatoes fare, Danish chefs have now carved out a name for themselves in the culinary…

10 hours ago

Fascinating facts about Genghis Khan’s hidden tomb

Many centuries ago, a man known by the name of Genghis Khan brought a large portion of Central Asia and…

10 hours ago

A dedicated Culture Week launched by Zimbabwe’s government

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said that the government was taking necessary measures in promoting the arts and culture sector…

10 hours ago

Maya Bay beach made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio’s film closed until 2021

One of the most popular beauty spots in Thailand will remain closed to tourists until 2021 to allow its ecology…

10 hours ago

Happy 130th birthday, Eiffel Tower!

Paris wished the Eiffel Tower a happy birthday on Wednesday with an elaborate night-time laser show retracing the monument's 130-year…

10 hours ago