INTERVIEW. Vlad Plahotniuc: "The PSRM is playing games by organizing referendums that failed, and the right-wing opposition ended up being represented by criminals"

The results of the failed referendum in Chisinau have shown that "the right-wing forces can defeat the left-wing forces, if they have a common interest", as the leader of the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM) Vlad Plahotniuc said in an interview exclusively given to the ZIARUL NATIONAL.

When asked why the DPM has not supported the capital’s local authorities so far, promising to help them, the politician stated that "no one asked for help".

You can find what the DPM’s leader says about the denunciation made by Maia Sandu with the Prosecutor of the General Office against him, about accusations of the killer Proca, the criminal file from Romania, the covert partnership with the Socialists and Igor Dodon, or about the renewals announced in the Government from the interview below.

Mr. Plahotniuc, how would you comment on the results of the yesterday’s referendum in Chisinau? Some people say that, this failure of the referendum will make the Democratic Party control the Chisinau City Hall before the local elections ...

Vlad Plahotniuc: Let’s take turns. First of all, we must state that no one has won this referendum actually; however, we have a clear defeat of the left-wingers, especially of the socialists, who tried to take the City Hall by force. The reality is that a part of the blame for how Chisinau looks like today also lies with the PSRM, which has been blocking the Chisinau Municipal Council’s activity in various ways. I think that the citizens gave a very clear answer yesterday to the socialists and the boycott by the right-wingers, including the DPM, has greatly impacted the final outcome.

Without planning it on purpose, the right-wing forces have shown that they can defeat the left-wing forces, if they have a common interest. I judge the result of the yesterday's referendum as a stinging defeat for the left-wingers, represented in this situation by PSRM, PCRM and Our Party, the parties that urged people to vote for the dismissal of Chisinau mayor.

As for the further situation, we must understand that, unfortunately, the control over the CMC is still held by the LP and the PSRM, so it is not the case that the DPM can control the activity of the Chisinau City Hall. However, the DPM, through the central authorities, could help the City Hall, regardless of who governs it, either temporarily or not, as long as the City Hall’s representatives come up with concrete projects aimed at generating results for the citizens.

In other words, would you be ready to support Dorin Chirtoaca, if his suspension is canceled?

I have said that no matter who the mayor is, we are ready to help if he/she comes up with a concrete problem solving plan, and, of course, if help is sought from the Government or the DPM, because we cannot intervene without being asked to do that, unless in a crisis situation.

Mr. Plahotniuc, why didn’t you do the same before, especially since you and the liberals were in a ruling coalition?

We helped when we were asked for support, sometimes there was no need to ask us to help, in a crisis situation. Let us remind the situation from April, when there were heavy snowfalls that paralyzed the city. The Government immediately intervened, managed the crisis and supported the City Hall, which was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the phenomenon.

One of your colleagues has recently stated that we are in a "premature electoral campaign", explaining the attacks against the DPM. According to public opinion, however, there has recently been a number of electoral populism from the party you are leading. Are we already in a campaign for the 2018 elections?

Some may have started the campaign prematurely, but if we talk about opposition parties, I think that is good for us, as they are showing that they have no serious issues and reveal their limited capacities.

Within a year, the time left before elections, the people will see the true colors of the opposition parties. On one hand, the PSRM is playing games by organizing referendums that failed, on the other hand, the right-wing opposition ended up being represented by criminals. Their leaders were left without political issues and became the bullhorn of individuals with serious convictions for extremely serious deeds.

As for the DPM, today we are not concerned about election campaigns, and I am not sure that there will be too much time for this before the elections. The obligation of the main ruling party is not to make promises, but to obtain results and represent people. Paradoxically, but when one solves people’s problems, some still think that's populism. Ok, let them call us populists, in any case we are interested in what benefits accrue to people, but not what stories the opposition tells about us.

Mr. Plahotniuc, not only is populism imputed to you, but also usurpation of authority in the state. Maia Sandu has even made a denunciation with the Prosecutor General’s Office, and prosecutors have found you as clean as a tear...

I have much understanding for what Maia Sandu did, it’s natural that she tries to divert public attention away from a subject that bothers her, to hide somehow the situation related to the abusive closure of schools and to the disaster occurring in education. After all, it is a somewhat logical political tactic – she understands very well the social inconveniences generated by certain reforms that she, while still being the minister, initiated in education, without a proper impact assessment.

Yet, beyond politics, problems remain. Some of the schools should be reopened as soon as possible, bureaucratic procedures for teachers should be abolished, and the additional fees imposed on them for training courses should be excluded, while the curriculum is completely inappropriate, and there is an urgent need to work on its simplification.

Strictly speaking, the current situation makes a mockery of children. And here I do not reproach Maia Sandu, but all those who have managed the field of education in recent years. The current Minister of Education has a very specific task – to start working on solving these problems and finding solutions.

I want to make it clear, I have not suddenly become a specialist in education, but I receive a lot of complaints from the citizens, especially in this field. This is why almost at every weekly session I ask for a report to be submitted to us with the identification of solutions to a number of issues raised by parents and teachers. We cannot solve them today or tomorrow, but we can at least start looking for solutions and implementing them in stages.

As for the usurpation accusations, I find that some politicians once again confuse our concern for the country’s problems with the stories about usurpation. It’s a serious mistake in mentality of these politicians.

We discuss the problems of the citizens within the party and ask the institutions, where the DPM has delegated representatives, to solve them, but if someone thinks that this is usurpation, then let them think like that, but in doing so they risk to become over time the laughing stock of their own voters, whose problems are, by the way, solved and will be solved systematically by the governance.

Why don’t you accept a TV confrontation with Maia Sandu, including on education issues?

I think that the opposition is disturbed by the fact that we start addressing sensitive issues of the society, and tries to stop us, fearing that the positive evolution we have in surveys will continue. People expect from the ruling party to listen to them and solve their problems, to get involved in this, but not to be broadcasted on TV and fight with political opponents through endless statements and promises.

Let us recall that, I made a single, but a great and important promise, in my speech, when I was elected the Chairman of the DPM – that our party will get closer to the citizens and will solve their problems. This is what we do and what we will do, since this is our main goal.

You have cursorily commented on accusations of the killer Proca, as well as on the case from Romania in which you are mentioned. These are accusations that require explanations, and maybe you can offer them to us in this interview ...

 A first comment is that some media outlets have seriously messed up in both cases. Without verifying the information at least in a superficial manner, they started to publish it already with conclusions.

The case from Romania is actually a complaint made by the convict Platon, behind whose back is one of the special services of the Russian Federation – FSB. The latter got very angry with the Chisinau Government and me personally for the fact that in the Republic of Moldova the competent institutions halted the process of laundering more than 22 billion US dollars from Russia and started to investigate this case, making it public knowledge afterwards.

Even if this process, this complaint made by Platon, is guided by FSB, the Romanian institutions are obliged, when receiving a complaint, to verify it. This is the only explanation for such actions.

What does it mean my name being mentioned in the file? Nothing else but the fact that my name was written by Platon in the complaint. Nothing more. However, many media outlets have rushed to post the news that I am prosecuted criminally. This information is completely false, which has been immediately refuted by the Romanian authorities. It was a fake news, an ordinary manipulation, which unfortunately shows how independent is the so-called free press in the Republic of Moldova and how hasty its interpretations and conclusions can be.

In the case of another convict in Romania who made statements and accusations against me, things are also ill-disguised. From what the Moldovan prosecutors publicly announced a year ago, as far as I know, there is a criminal case where an individual, protected by the same FSB and suspected of organizing the murder attempt on Gorbuntsov, tried to pay Proca to make these accusations, so the file was before that interview. This clearly shows what the situation is really like, shows who and what dirty scenarios are behind that interview.

The credibility of those accusations is zero. The murderer just woke up after so many years to say different things. Don’t you think such a sudden radical change is strange? His purpose was so obvious. Let's be serious. A trustworthy person would know that was a false statement. That convict was simply a bullhorn of other underworld leaders who stayed at liberty, was in FSB service, which controlled some Moldovan opposition parties and media outlets.

That criminal is neither the first nor the last idiot used by people who want to cheat justice in order to escape criminal liability.

Mr. Plahotniuc, when someone accuses the leader of the main ruling party of such things, it’s a serious blow to the image...

Do you think so? I think it is a blow to the credibility of those who have started these issues, but also of those who have promoted them. And I am glad that the lack of other attacks on the DPM and the government has led them to invent these forgeries a year before the elections.

People have enough time to see and understand what’s behind them. On the other hand, it’s bad that public opinion is forced to witness these shows of criminals, promoted by media outlets. As in the case of the murder attempt on Gorbuntsov which has failed, I can confidently say that the mediated murder attempt on me and the DPM has also failed.

Above you have mentioned "the DPM’s positive evolution in surveys". Do you rely on them when saying that the attack on the party you are leading "has failed"?

Not only on them, I rely on the obvious manner in which those who promoted these fakes have lost all credibility, using underworld leaders sentenced to years of jail. As far as surveys are concerned, I never read the figures just like that; I follow the trends on a number of chapters, but not just the score of the parties. We make measurements every two months.

We have not published the last survey, namely because the DPM’s evolution was positive, and we didn’t want to arouse any comments. There are other surveys which have already shown to the public what we have known for several months already. But we are still far from our real potential. The DPM will get closer to the citizens and will demonstrate its potential through results, but not through promises. Respectively, the citizens’ support will also continue to grow. The DPM’s political rating in 2018 will be a new reason for opposition’s headaches.

Mr. Plahotniuc, you are very often reproached of the covert partnership between the DPM and the PSRM. What are your relations with the President Igor Dodon?

There is no political partnership between the DPM and the PSRM, and I say this very categorically, no matter if there are other perceptions. At the institutional level, there is communication between institutions, but as I understand, this one is also not very good. The communication is rather destructive than constructive.

Many want a war between the DPM and the PSRM, especially between Plahotniuc and Dodon. Why does the right-wing opposition want this war? Because they want instability in the country, they are scared that the Government is working peacefully, fulfilling its commitments to external partners, and concrete results are becoming apparent. It’s a disaster for them, if the Government continues to work like this. Before the elections, the opposition may not matter too much. That’s why they need scandal, people in the street, wars, blocking external funding, anything that could block the Government’s activity.

They are not able to struggle with the Government and need such crisis situations. For the citizens, however, it’s very important to have economic and political stability, to have peace, and that the Government deals with their problems, but not political wars. This is the stake of these attempts of the opposition – to provoke us to trigger a war with Dodon or the PSRM. For this purpose, they insinuate that there is a DPM-PSRM relationship to provoke us to denying reactions, to some follies, proving that we are not allies but real opponents. But the DPM has worries other than combating rumors and insinuations made up by the right-wing opposition.

We are not going to maintain the political agenda of others, neither of the right-wing nor of the left-wing. We are dealing with our own agenda, which has a great number of responsibilities drawn from reality, not from fictions.

Some people believe that it is you who could stop Igor Dodon's momentum, who advocates the change of the course of the Republic of Moldova ...

I can assure you that we have another strategy to lessen the impetus of the PSRM, one that will not make the citizens suffer and will not involve the state’s institutions. As we have already shown, we know very well how to act on the opponent’s mistakes, which fortunately are sufficient.

But we will not trigger political wars with any party or political leader, regardless of whether we speak of the right-wing opposition or of the left-wing opposition, because any widespread conflict could affect stability in the country. But if we are attacked, if someone interferes with the country’s stability, we will respond robustly and will stop these actions, we will protect the good course that the Republic of Moldova is starting to set, especially in the economic field.

You have also said that you will not fight with right-wing parties, but the DPM has harshly attacked Maia Sandu recently, including Andrian Candu.

You are wrong. The DPM attacked neither Maia Sandu nor right-wing parties. Our only reactions were when we were wrongly accused and even you, the journalists and the press, asked us to comment on various statements of the right-wing opposition. We, however, never attacked on our own initiative the right-wing opposition, which is already weakened. On the contrary, we invited the pro-European opposition to join the efforts and consolidate forces of the right-wing opposition, and to stop dividing it.

Is that apple with 'vitamins'?

I am ready to be the first to bite off this apple, then the right-wing opposition, if some are still overtaken by fear that they may get poisoned by the apple. But I think the problem is not what the apple contains, the problem is that some are just not capable of dealing with politics of the state, they are not interested in the country. They are obsessed with me or the DPM, and that weakens their thinking and blocks their political evolution.

Why do you think the latest IRI survey shows the DPM’s increased rating and the opposition’s downgrade? Because many citizens began to realize what I’ve just said to you. In a last year’s interview, I said that the parties that were obsessed with me would not overcome the electoral threshold, as it happened with others before them. Another party fell below the electoral threshold, and another one’s rating has started seriously falling. If I were an egoist, I would be happy about that. I understand, however, that after elections we will not have sufficient seats on the right wing to maintain the pro-European governance. The European vector was, is and will continue to be our main goal.

You have recently announced about renewals in the Government. Who could leave in December?

It’s too early to talk about it. I’m satisfied by the way the Government is working and by the Prime Minister’s good work, which is also appreciated outside the country. However, there are also areas in which very little is done, so the changes may be needed.

We don’t exclude that some changes will be made even earlier than the announced deadline, where appropriate. We are going to make the necessary assessments together with our prime minister and colleagues from the party, then make decisions. The key criterion we rely on is the way the institutions manage to be effective in addressing the problems faced by citizens.

I’ve told and I’ll repeat: we self-assess according to the social outcomes and benefits that the governance delivers and we will do whatever is required for the governance mechanism to function in an efficient, competent and proper manner, with the right people on right positions.

Mr. Vlad Plahotniuc, thank you for the interview!

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