"They Began to Make a Criminal out of Me since I Became a Popular Politician". Interview with Renato Usatii
Editor-in-Chief of newsmaker.md (NM) Vladimir Solovyov talked with Partidul Nostru [Our Party] leader, Mayor of Balti city Renato Usatii about why he is hiding in Moscow from the Moldovan law enforcement and is not proving his righteousness in Moldova, and about his relations with Vlad Plahotniuc, Vlad Filat. Igor Dodon and the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).
“I Am Not Afraid of Drinking Water from a Toilet Sink or of Other Hardships”
We are talking not in Moldova but in Moscow. A politician who flees from his country from criminal litigations instead of defending his righteousness where he is accused of something usually loses the trust of his voters. Why are you not in Moldova?
For one simple reason: due to the puppet judiciary in Moldova – puppet prosecutors and puppet police bosses. I’ve understood that due to my tough criticism of Vlad Plahotniuc and his surrounding, I would be staying in custody in bad conditions. They would be scaring me that I would begin drinking water from a toilet sink.
That was exactly what the Petrenco group went through. But I am not afraid of drinking water from a toilet sink or of other hardships. Though what they are doing with Veaceslav Platon, Felix Grincu, Valentin Cimpoies [businessman Platon was arrested in Kiev and delivered to Moldova; Our Party member Grincu is in a remand prison; Mayor of Basarabeasca town Cimpoies was placed in a remand prison in March 2017 and put under house arrest some time later] is just inhuman.
While in jail, I will be not able to help and support the people who are now suffering together with me. Last autumn, Plahotniuc, acting together with his scoundrel cops, was preparing an operation of kidnapping me in Moscow. A story similar to Platon’s. According to honest Moldovan policemen whom I am very grateful to, an accord was reached to deliver me home from Russia. A route was worked out for transporting me from my Moscow home up to the Russia-Belarus border. And there was allegedly an agreement with Belarus to extradite me from there. At the present time, I am no more a person wanted by Russian police. This is absolutely legally.
So, I am out-of-reach for them [Moldovan law enforcement] here. Plahotniuc wants to lock me up in jail, but not annihilating me but to annihilate my surrounding and Our Party. Since the moment when something happens with Usatii, be this an imprisonment or my physical liquidation, the entire leadership of Our Party will become vulnerable: key activists, OP mayors and so forth. Currently, I have been in touch practically round-the clock with my lawyers and the families of those who are being pressed on. There are families who have no money even for food. There are lawyers whom I need to work with. Certain processes are going on in the European Union, too.
To find myself behind bars would mean the impossibility to bring to a logical end the exposure of crimes pertaining to Plahotniuc and his surrounding in various countries of the world. If Usatii is jailed, cooperation with Romanian police and prosecution service will be stopped. The same thing will happen with the Scotland Yard. There are several more countries where he committed grave crimes, but I cannot talk of this today because after each my saying Plahotniuc mobilizes more lawyers in various European Union countries.
Staying far from my home country, I am able to manage all processes – from realization of my electoral pledges in Balti city to my struggle against Plahotniuc. There is no oligarchic regime in Moldova – there is a regime of oligarch Plahotniuc. I shall be further waging my struggle against Plahotniuc even if my life needs to be sacrificed for this, but I shall annihilate the Plahotniuc regime. I am fulfilling this little by little.
How come you manage to leave Moldova happily each time before your arrest? The members of your party, for instance the Mayor of Basarabeasca, are not so lucky. They can’t leave the country before arrest.
In various interviews I spoke about interaction with officers from the Moldovan law enforcement. Everything began from my university fellow mates. Some of them worked in criminal investigation departments, other applied for assistance to Russia. I am acquainted with many of them. There are people in Moldova who disagree with what is going on in their native country, disagree with the orders they are forced to fulfill against me and other OP people.
They warn you about an arrest and you have time for leaving Moldova?
Not quite so. Now I will tell you something I have never told anybody. Shortly after detention of Filat, he told me the following: “Renato, I beg your pardon for what I did against you and your people. It was Plahotniuc who incited me to. I have started certain processes against you in Romania”.
I asked him which processes he meant. He replied: “Well, in order to link you somehow with Gorbuntsov, Proca and so forth [runaway Russian banker German Gorbuntsov controlled Universalbank in Moldova, then moved over to London, where killer Vitalie Proca attempted the banker’s murder unhappily. Proca is serving a sentence in a Romanian prison].
Filat confessed that he hadn’t been involved in all that for quite long, and that it was only Plahotniuc who had been doing this for very long. Proca stated in an interview in September 2016 that high-ranked officials from Chisinau used to come to him in the Romanian jail now and again and told him to assume responsibility for this or that crime committed in Moldova so that to thus receive a pretext for his extradition from Romania. Later on they promised to release him from custody in exchange for his evidence against me. All this will eventually turn out badly for them.
Why am I telling you all this? Everybody saw how I used to criticize Filat. Everybody remembers how we were catching him around the Parliament Building. And with all this, Filat’s security guys used to inform me about everything what was going on in the Parliament on Filat’s detention day. I.e. Filat was one of my political enemies. But today Filat is a victim. There is only one enemy – for me, for the whole country and all its healthy forces. And this enemy is Vlad Plahotniuc. My enemy Filat said to me: “Renato, excuse me for what I did. You are the only man whom Plahotniuc is afraid of and who is able to put an end to the Plahotniuc regime”.
Already in jail, Filat passed the following words to me through a reliable man: “Tell Renato that he must take care of himself. Tell him that what I have started against him is now being actively continued by Plahotniuc who is trying to deceive the Romanian and British law enforcement in order to implicate Renato in this story [charges against Renato Usatii of his alleged trying to assassinate German Gorbuntsov]”.
So, what is the conclusion? Are you constantly warned about the troubles that may come upon you?
Certainly. This concerns not only me but also my party comrades. I had no information about Basarabeasca Mayor Valentin Cimpoies, but I was warned about Mayor of Drochia town Nina Cereteu. And she wrote in the Facebook that the northern Moldovan subdivision of the National Anti-Corruption Center (NACC) was preparing to give a bribe to her or her father to make them say that all Our Party mayors are corrupt. That information came to me from a NACC officer who phoned me to say that everything was ready for a provocation against Cereteu. And such examples are many. I phoned Nina and recommended her to make that information public. My life develops so that I have very many contacts. There are honest, decent people working in power agencies who warn me not only about me but also about my party colleagues. You understand?
Plahotniuc And Filat Thought Usatii Would Take 2% Away From Communists, And His Political Life Would End On That
Explain your relationship with Plahotniuc. Before, he used to come to your birthday parties and to congratulate you. How did he become enemy number one to you?
I had a serious talk with Plahotniuc yet in 2013. I even remember the date – it was the 50th birthday anniversary of Natalia Politova. Veaceslav Platon was also present at the party. Now he is in custody.
You Mean the birthday of the former Victoriabank President?
Yes. The anniversary was celebrated in restaurant Mi Piace in the Botanica sector of Chisinau.
And Platon was at that party?
Yes, they all were dancing and kissing. There was Plahotniuc, too, and I told him on the balcony: “Vlad, you are smiling now, but what all of you are doing is just impossible. You may not!” I told him also that it was in my plans to return to Moldova for good in 2018. Then, in the autumn of 2013, I had certain business projects that had to be finished in Russia. There were ideas that needed to be put into life.
Plahotniuc said: “I feel you will come into politics”. And I said that what he and Filip were doing in Moldova was only speeding up my return home, and that they would bring me into politics sooner than I was planning.
He laughed: “Ha-ha-ha! You can try. But you indeed understand that the entire Moldovan television is in my hands. And I have consultants – Russians, Ukrainians, Turks, Americans”.
In a ward, Plahotniuc told me how hard and complicated things in Moldova were. I replied I did not need television channels or consultants, and that I would be proposing to people what I can and not what Americans or Russians or Ukrainians or Romanians would be writing for me. Plahotniuc was listening with a smile.
At that time, I had questions to Filat. Many people were saying them that Usatii was more disturbing Filat than Plahotniuc. But it is not my fault that Plahotniuc, as it turned out later, used to accept cash from guys like Ilan Shor in banana boxes, and that Filat turned out to be such a fool that he bought even underpants for the money that was stolen from Banca de Economii [savings bank]. That was why more evidence materials used to come on Filat, moreover – coming from the Filat’s surrounding.
The decision to go into politics was taken by me in early 2014. I discussed it with Nicolae Tipovici and a few more people close to me. We had neither office nor anything then. Everything was created on the run – regional organizations, town organizations, everything.
I said to Plahotniuc then: “Vlad, we have been acquainted for many years. I know Filat and I know very well what Voronin is and what he used to do. I used to come from Russia to your birthday parties, and to Filat’s, and to other celebrities from the Moldova establishment. And all of you used to come to me in Moscow. I have repeatedly helped all those who asked help from me – from [ex-Mayor of Chisinau] Serafim Urechean to the Communists. So, I want you to understand one thing perfectly clear: I am going into politics to cleanse the country of such ‘experts’ as you.
I saw how our Mihai Ghimpu [Liberal Party leader], who used to walk around in sneakers previously, started wearing elegant suits costing 2-3 thousand dollars. Citizens who watch Ghimpu in the TV set cannot realize how expensive his suit is, but I really have a very good idea of expensive men’s suits.
In reply, Plahotniuc only said: “Ha-ha-ha! Try!” And I tried. At the beginning, everything was really funny. They with Filat thought that Usatii would take away 2% from the Communists, would weaken up Voronin, and that his politics would end on that. In addition, Vlad Filat, being not a very clever strategist, started giving me ‘electoral presents’: he denied registration to my party several times, then launched pointless criminal litigations, and it was from a third attempts that we found a possibility to take part in parliamentary elections with the Patria Party. And what happened next? In April-May 2014, opinion polls started showing that we were strong enough to win sits in the Parliament.
I was a dark horse for many people in Moldova then. Many people just did not know me yet. But Filat and Plahotniuc did not have even the slightest doubt that I would necessarily ruin their schemes. Those unsuspecting citizens turned out to be my most devoted voters later on.
Plahotniuc came to realize that I would get to parliament, so he tried to strike a bargain with me. As for Dodon, there was no even a smell of him then: the Socialists’ popularity rating was 2% then. And Plahotniuc proposed a bargain. He is number one scheme-maker in the country. He could draw 35 variants of coalition in a matter of 10 minutes. Moreover, he could provide a forecast – that this or that or a third party shall be de-registered and thus removed from the election race, and that this or that politician shall be thrown into custody. I said to him: “Stop! What coalition? I will make a coalition only with those who are struggling against your gang”. He explained me that this is politics and that I am indeed free to say that Plahotniuc is a bad man. But he asked me not to say that only he is a bad man, and he begged me not to mention his name. The thing is, Plahotniuc has a hang-up: when somebody pronounces his name, no matter a cleaner in a kindergarten or a farmer in the field or a politician, he runs mad! This is paranoia. We were talking once, and somebody started saying something about him on the TV set. You can’t imagine what began happening with him. He jumped up, burst up with anger, and I thought he would lose his mind. He is a very dangerous, insidious and revengeful person.
As the 2014 parliamentary election was approaching, Plahotniuc again desired to talk. He said to me: “Opinion polls are showing that a majority in the Parliament will be your party, with the Socialists and with Voronin. And what do you think I should do then – to sit, listen and watch your de-nationalization going on? Do you really propose this? No, that shall not go”. He threatened to de-register my party or the Socialists. I told him then: “Do what you wish but be ready to the thought that everything in life has to be paid for”.
I did not believe that we would be de-registered from the elections. Many people were convincing us (Alexei Tulbure and Igor Botan and other) that the authorities would not dare create such an undesirable precedent.
But Plahotniuc threw us out of the elections. The whole country saw that. I used all possible legal methods to prevent that. Over the time of my political activities in Moldova, Plahotniuc used various methods of blackmail, which we will talk about one day. But these will be serious accusations with subsequent criminal prosecution, with a serious body of evidence – not the kind of scribbles he uses for prosecuting me and other real opposition politicians in the country.
I am being accused of not submitting evidence materials against Plahotniuc to the Prosecutor General’s Office. But in July 2016, I stated in my interview with journalist Gheorghe Gonta that Plahotniuc had offered money to me and had said he had a plan of how to capture the country. If I refuse to accept his conditions, he swore to annihilate me and Andrei Nastase both in terms of the mass media and criminal prosecution.
As a matter of fact, that promise came to be true, but only towards me. Me and DA Platform leaders have been constantly on Plahotniuc’s TV channels being slaughtered under all kinds of invented pretexts. And statements are always same: “fugitive criminals Victor and Viorel Topa”. Well, the Topa men have been condemned by court, but I haven’t yet stood the court, but am already named a fugitive criminal.
Plahotniuc has demonstrated he keeps his word. And I keep mine and I try to annihilate his regime. Hence is the conflict with him. I have not been talking of Vlad Filat for quite long, and mention Mihai Ghimpu only occasionally. But what should I do? Should I build the liberation of the captured country on criticizing Iurie Leanca, Maia Laguta and other petty puppet organizations created by Plahotniuc for the only purpose of demonstrating the struggle of pro-European forces against pro-Russian forces?
Presently, the Republic of Moldova has only one evil named Vlad Plahotniuc. Plahotniuc means corruption, a captured state, the growing number of good people emigrating from the republic. You see, I am not ruling out completely that some thoughts in Plahotniuc’s head are light thoughts. May be it is not politically correct of mine to say such things of him, for now some people will start saying that Usatii is praising his enemy Plahotniuc. No, he must have a dream of getting cleansed of dirt and of trying to buy a calm life in his old age. And he has set himself a task to be an eternal politician. Presently he positions himself before Americans as a fighter against Russian tanks. But it well may be that one fine night, at 2 a.m. he may instantly become a pro-Russian politicians, if Americans start pressing him.
“Question With Interpol Shall Be Solved”
You are talking of Plahotniuc crimes without concrete information…
I have already mentioned the incident with Gonta. In a normal country having at least glimpses of justice and democracy, Usatii and Plahotniuc would have been long invited to an investigator. And what did the authorities do? Nothing! You are saying: give concrete information. There is such information and it has been sent to countries where this or that crime was committed.
Which crimes do you mean?
I have provided evidence that Plahotniuc has not an indirect but a direct relation to ordering the assassination of Russian banker German Gorbuntsov in London. Killer Proca’s relatives proved that later on. They demonstrated to the whole country on television the correspondence with Constantin Botnari. On many cases, in which I stand as a witness, I have no right to speak about until the investigation is finished and the cases are sent to the court. Today, not a single prosecutor or policeman in Europe would provide details of the case because he would be jailed for this. It is only in Moldova where there is a tradition to leak information and documents from criminal cases in process.
Moldovan law enforcement agencies’ accusations against you are serious. Inter alia, there is the organization of the murder of the above-mentioned banker Gorbuntsov. You are wanted by the Interpol. We can indeed suppose that Moldovan law enforcers fabricated something, and there were such examples already, for instance the Antifa case. But the Interpol is a serious organization. Why are you wanted by Interpol if everything you are being charged of is not true?
Thanks to the Moldovan judicial arbitrariness, I am becoming a lawyer, and soon I will be expert enough to work as a prosecutor. I have already become a specialist on Interpol. Everything is very simple. There is Moldova’s National Bureau of Interpol in Chisinau. I was declared as a wanted person not by the Interpol Headquarters in Lyons but by the Moldovan Bureau that has an access to the Interpol database. You understand?
The Plahotniuc regime began making a criminal of me since when I had become a popular politician. They started launching criminal litigations against me. I stopped reading them when their number had exceeded 20. The first such case was started during the 2014 parliamentary campaign.
Before that, not a single litigation was launched against me in a foreign country. And there are no corruption cases against me. They [mass media controlled by the Moldovan authorities] call me Russian mafia agent, and Russian security agent, and a representative of the Kremlin, and what not. The more I criticize Plahotniuc, the more criminal litigations there appear against me. I am the dangerous-most Moldovan politician for him because I interact with the law enforcement of many countries. In the nearest future, I will prove Plahotniuc’s involvement in loudest crimes. I am being prosecuted for my desire to annihilate his system in Moldova.
You mean Plahotniuc controls the Interpol National Bureau in Moldova as well?
That’s right. Each morning and at the end of each working day, the Interpol Bureau Chief reports to Minister of the Interior Alexandru Jizdan the Plahotniuc’s current status in the Interpol database. And Jizdan reports the status to Plahotniuc.
I have photographs of documents from Plahotniuc’s table. What do secret files with his and my Interpol statuses do on his table? I am sure that a serious check will be carried one day because this is but a spit into the face of the Interpol system in the whole world. Information that a person is placed under control in this or that country is top secret information that is available only to Interpol subdivisions in the world.
By the way, the reason for announcing me as wanted by Interpol was my receiving two SMS messages from Prosecutor Vitalie Busuioc and my non-reacting to them. So, I was announced as wanted not by the Interpol Headquarters in Lyons.
My lawyers have prepared all necessary materials for submission to Interpol. We have translated into English 600 pages of documents. So, the question with Interpol will be settled. The British lawyer specializing on such matters said to me that the documents contain a lot of evidence for lifting the status of a wanted person from me, and that “You will not be able to enter Moldova but you will be free to travel around the world”.
You have heard a lot of accusations of your working for Russian security services. Your information awareness on many issues does not leave doubt that you have been in close contacts with various Russian power agencies. Why such friendship? What does it give to you and them?
Why have you decided that there is such a friendship? First you look who accuses me. The Gorbuntsov’s website crimerussia writes that I am a representative in Moldova of the [Russian] Solntsevo criminal mafia. There can be so much writing.
In other words, you don’t communicate with, say, FSB officers, don’t know anybody there and don’t meet with them, right?
In due time, I published a verbatim report of a closed-door meeting of then-Prime Minister of Moldova Vlad Filat and then-President of Romania Traian Basescu. According to your logic, I must be friends with the Romanian security service as well?
But why should they have sent the verbatim to you?
Because my name was mentioned in that verbatim report. Basescu’s aide then was Iulian Chifu, who said to Vlad Filat in that meeting: “Don’t worry, Vlad, we know how to handle Usatii in Moldova and how to put him on the right place”. Some comrades in the Romanian establishment decided that that information should have been brought to my knowledge.
I have acquaintances in all countries of the world, with whom I had contacts over my active life before my coming into politics from business. For instance, I can’t help knowing somebody from, say, the Russian Ministry of Agriculture, for I have lived for ten years in this country.
I am asking you not about the Ministry of Agriculture…
I understand about what. Don’t try to peg me to somebody. I have acquaintances in the Russian Ministry of the Interior, and of Agriculture, and probably I have contacts in the FSB.
Probably, or you have?
I have acquaintances everywhere – in the Romanian security services and in Moldovan. I live according to the principle: a hundred friends are better than a hundred bucks. And I have friends in many countries of the world.
And how did the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) warn me? I am proud of my preventing Plahotniuc from carrying out his plan like he did in Ukraine with Veaceslav Platon. I received a telephone call from SBU, when I was on my way to the check-in counter at the Domodedovo airport in Moscow. The caller warned me that the Moscow-Chisinau airplane will be landed in Odessa [Ukraine] for an invented reason, and I will be detained in Odessa. It was in 2015. I simply did not go for boarding them, and remained in Moscow.
Since then, I have been flying only Aeroflot because this Russian company flies in detour of Ukraine. A proof that all that was true was seen by the whole country. Recollect the prankers who pretended to be Mihail Saakashvili [then-Odessa Governor] and phoned to Timofti [previous President of Moldova], Balan [ex-Minister of the Interior] and Cojocaru [former Deputy Chief of MoI Department of Special Operations]. Cojocaru then said: “You catch him there [in Odessa], and we will invent something, will write a paper and bring it”. I.e. they confessed over the telephone that the task was to arrest me by whatever means.
The prankers decided themselves to talk with the Moldovan officials about Usatii, or you asked them?
I will tell you how it was. Knowing the situation, I found friends on the Facebook, explained them everything and asked to get in contact with each other. Facebook is a great force. By the way, it is a known fact that the Moldovan security services have been permitted for many years now to read the Facebook messenger. But now Plahotniuc already has access to the Facebook, and his bloggers and his security guys monitor and read the writings of all politicians, artists etc. in the country. Now he reads the Facebook of absolutely all people, and I think this is an absolute lawlessness.
Is this information also from friends?
I was told this by people who had seen this. Then I decided to start writing provocative questions and texts in Facebook to see what Plahotniuc will be doing in reply. Oh, he and the Moldovan security services did excellently – 10 points of 10! Plahotniuc excellently passed the test that proved he has an access to Facebook.
So, I told everything to the prankers, telling them I need a call from Ukraine. Now you can see the result. Why Balan did not tell preudo-Avakov that he would not be participating in the illicit detention of a Moldova citizen in Odessa? They confessed they were preparing a plot against me. That’s all about the situation.
“I Will Be Criticizing Dodon For His Collaboration With Plahotniuc That Is Gaining Momentum”
Let’s speak of other participants of the Moldovan political life. The Left flange is dominated by the Party of Socialists. Our Party is oriented to approximately same segment of the electorate but yields to the Socialists in popularity.
You are making the same mistake as do many Moldovan media outlets. I hate phrases like “Left electorate”. Since 2014 I have been saying that I want to unite all people irrespective of their ethnicity, and I don’t orient at whatever segments. I want to unite around myself a maximum-possible number of people and by joint effort to ruin this regime to pieces.
At the 2016 presidential election you nevertheless supported Dodon…
Yes I supported Igor Dodon at the election. But everybody heard what I was saying about Dodon long before the election. I strongly regret that Our Party took part in the election. At that moment, I just divorced the opposition camp and said: “Let’s boycott the election. If we boycott it all together, then it will be a piss-up. [The Communist Party announced a boycott – and did not participate in the election]. But they told me: “And what will we tell the citizenry? We were demanding a direct presidential election, and the Right even tried to organize a referendum”. Dodon was shouting about that, too, and each politician was imagining himself a president.
I said: listen, there are two variants of how to outwit Plahotniuc and not to play according to his rules. The first: the entire opposition does not participate in the election, whose legitimacy will be at the zero level, and nobody will recognize it. The second: a common candidate from all opposition forces. A one-time president who would demand to dissolve the Parliament, and we, the whole country, would come out and back this decision. As for the president, he would tender resignation after the appointment of the date of an early parliamentary election. I was proposing to nominate somebody from the expert community for the presidential post. But we have received what we have received.
In those days, people from all over the country were coming to me, asking: “Renato, the people are demanding a candidate. Look, Nastase is touring the country, and Maia Sandu, and Marian Lupu is touring. The Party is dying. We must give a candidate to the people”. I said to them I don’t wish to participate in this entire sex. But the people wanted! I have always said that I shall be doing what a majority wants – no matter at a party level or at the national level. I asked Dumitru Ciubasenco to run for the presidency as Our Party’s candidate. To be honest with the people, I stated that if Igor Dodon and Maia Sandu reach the second round, then I would support Dodon. I have said many a time about the “Washington headquarters” and about the fact that all of the Romanian presidents last 25 years have been simply mocking at Moldova by refusing to sign the Basic Treaty, thus leaving open a door for unirea [unification of the Republic of Moldova with Romania]. And then Maia Sandu comes and says: “I am a unionist”. That was approximately like after a meeting with Basescu.
But Maia Sandu has never said she is a unionist. She said that if a referendum on unification with Romania were held, she would vote for unirea.
She stated honestly she would vote for unification with Romania. And I said honestly this is out of the question. You understand? Dodon is a little bit pro-Russian and a little bit pro-Plahotniuc. I am the mayor of the country’s second-largest city. OP mayors are available everywhere, including in Gagauzia. Everybody was saying to me: “Renato, all people go for Dodon”. Pro-Plahotniuc or not pro-Plahotniuc, but we should recognize that all opinion polls nowadays are showing citizens’ sympathies for the pro-Eastern development vector.
I have always said that the topic about “pro-these” and “pro-those” needs to be closed, the sooner the better. Today we must have politicians who do a real job for the country. It is necessary to prepare the country for a referendum. Our villagers do not understand what the Customs Union is. I have conducted opinion polls and talked to the people. They perceived European integration merely as a possibility to travel to Europe without visas. And that’s all. Some 70% population understands the country’s external vector. Those having a good knowledge of the question have left the country yet 10-15 years ago. And our people are continuing to leave Moldova until now, unfortunately every day. It is necessary to prepare the society and to hold a referendum in 4-5 years from now. And we must put an end to all kinds of political speculations. If the country is ready for holding the referendum in 2 years, let’s hold it in two years. Ready in four years – let it be 4 years. But such referendum must be conducted by all means! And all of us, who pretend to be doing good things for the country, must go where two-thirds of citizens decide and not where your businesses and bank accounts are.
And if the referendum shows that the society is split fifty-fifty?
That cannot be. If we hold such referendum now, the Eurasian development vector would be supported by a small majority. And the Right forces will start screaming: “Falsification! The Russians have bought out the ballot-papers!” if the proportion is 52% against 48%. But if 63%, this will already be a constitutional majority. Therefore, the society needs to be prepared, and whole institutes do this, so that to have not just a simple majority but two-thirds must determine their stance on where to go to. But as long as the Moldovan society has been split and disunited, what referendum can we speak about? The people are being specially disoriented about the said vectors. Personally I will be advocating one vector which has been clearly fixed in our Program saying that Moldova is a platform where the West and the East interact, and not measure swords with one another.
There is nothing new in this thought. Everybody repeats it in approximately same variants.
I want to open the programs of all the political parties that participated in the 2014 parliamentary elections. You will find this thought only in the Program of Our Party. It was our position and, unlike with other political parties, it is never changed. I will be convincing citizens that only we ourselves must solve our problems at home. They should not be solved at 2 a.m. in Moscow, at 3 a.m. in Bucharest and so forth. Nobody else will solve them.
What relations do you have with President Igor Dodon and the Party of Socialists? You used to stand with Dodon shoulder to shoulder at the memorable actions of protest, and you supported his candidacy at the presidential election, and now you are accusing him of all sins. I can’t understand, are you friends or enemies?
I have stated tens of time that I shall not criticize even a single opposition party. But I reserve the right to not simply criticize but to ruin those who will be flirting with Plahotniuc. After Igor Dodon had become president, I have already held several serious conversations with him here in Moscow. And I told him that it was not at all a coincidence that his inauguration was dragged for so long. During that time, he had forgotten about the Information and Security Service, whose leadership had always been appointed by the head of state. The President has been deprived of his jurisdiction over the State Guard Service, which was given to the Government. And he stated: “Guys, I swear, we shall defeat Plahotniuc”, and promised to use all available resources for this. He stated that not a single of our people should remain in custody.
I am not criticizing Dodon for his attempts to solve the problem of Moldovan labor migrants and to open the Russian market for Moldovan producers. I tackle same problems while staying in Moscow. I admit I have no possibility to hold meetings with the Russian President, so Dodon meets him. But I will be welcoming any initiatives and any solutions of the real problems faced by our citizens.
But I will be criticizing Dodon and the Socialists for collaboration with Plahotniuc that is gaining momentum. Look, they are beginning to appoint judges – and here you are: Plahotniuc’s people are getting posts. Then I receive information that Plahotniuc’s people are voyaging provincial areas and are saying to Our Party members that Renato Usatii will never return home, that his party is kaput, and that Plahotniuc will soon crush Dodon finally. And in general, Usatii will shortly quit politics and the new chairman of Our Party will be Vasile Tarlev [former Prime Minister of Moldova in 2001-2008]. They visit our representatives in raion and town municipal councils…
The Socialists have gone as far as openly initiating the appointment of a new chairman of the Soroca raion. There was chairman from the DA Platform [Mihai Mitu, who was dismissed last year]. No matter talks about them, the DA Platform has been in a tough opposition to Plahotniuc. And the Socialists, acting together with the Democrats, voted for discharging Mitu. In 18 or 19 raions of Moldova, Dodon’s Socialists voted for appointing Democrats as raion chairpersons.
Only one Democrat managed to win a mandate in the Gagauzia Popular Assembly [legislature], and this very man eventually became the Assembly Chairman – with the assistance of those who were supported by Igor Dodon, Irina Vlah [Gagauzia Governor] and Zinaida Grechanaya [Party of Socialists Chairperson]. After that, the GPA deputy, who was supported by the Socialists, was appointed as Director General of the Chisinau-Gaz.
Do you mean Garbali?
Yes, he has become head of Chisinau-Gaz. What is it? A Moldovan opposition party is already appointing its people to lucrative posts! I am waiting for explanations, which I haven’t heard from the Party of Socialists leadership or from Dodon.
“Whole Country Should Come Out And Say No To Plahotniuc’s Venture”
So, what relations do you have with Party of Socialists and Igor Dodon?
Today I can see that the Socialists have returned to their old tricks and are overtly collaborating with Plahotniuc. On the one hand, Costea Botnari [Democratic Party Secretary General Constantin Botnari] together with his Moldovan pit bull Tutu [Democratic MP, kick boxer Constantin Tutu] are tearing my people out of Our Party. A day will come when Tutu will become a Maltese dog because such things cannot last long. And on the other hand, I receive reports that the Socialists are tearing out my people.
By the way, I’ve told Dodon to stop brainwashing my people. And he said: “O come on, Renato, I will give a command straightaway”. I said: “Igor, the television would not show our protests in defense of Our Party activists”. And he said: “No-no, come on, I will sort it out immediately”. But Our Party activities would not be demonstrated on the television – neither Plahotniuc’s Publika TV nor Dodon’s channels. Well, let them continue showing Dodon’s poultry farms, no problem, it’s his channel. But town and village mayors are coming to me and saying: “Socialists come to us, say to leave Our Party, otherwise it will be kaput for us. Everybody saw the video story that appeared in the Internet: there appears Vlad Batrincea [Party of Socialists Executive Secretary, a Member of Parliament], too. In other words, we have Costea Botnari from one side and Batrincea from the other.
So, what relations does Our Party have with the Socialists?
What relationship can I have with the person overtly collaborating with Plahotniuc? How can one give a life-long mandate to the judge who terrorized the Petrenco group for half a year? Dodon himself went there, helping to release them. My activists, including adult women, were bruised by police when they were protesting in support of Petrenco. And when such judges receive life-long mandates from Dodon, he does not know this? He knows this very well. But if he does and makes it consciously, this means he works openly for Plahotniuc. If he works for Plahotniuc, he is to hold the blow.
Are you in enmity with the Party of Socialists currently?
There is no enmity. I criticize them not for their political outlooks. I don’t criticize Dodon for his being a poor economist or Zinaida Grechanaya for her being a poor party leader. Criticism appears only when there comes information about their collaboration with Plahotniuc. I have a question to ask: why have the Socialists been preparing their people to a mixed electoral system since last February?
Many people presume that the current proportional electoral system may be replaced with a mixed system…
Not may be but for sure!
Will Our Party take part in elections according to new rules if the electoral system is changed?
I don’t want to indulge in fantasy, but I think of this day and night, believe me. Today one should focus not on what we should do if this happens but on what we should do to prevent this. All normal parties tuned against the Plahotniuc regime must stand up together against this Plahotniuc’s idea, should write to the Venice Commission, to the Council of Europe. Spring has come, and it is getting warmer. We should stand up as a whole country and state no to the enterprise of Plahotniuc’s. Parties that will not come out or at least will not call their supporters to come out for protesting will thus prove that they participate in a plot with Plahotniuc and that they are against the Republic of Moldova’s future.
The DA Platform, the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS), Our Party, the Socialists, the Communists, the Liberal Democrats – all must stand up against this. Chairman of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe Gianni Buquicchio stated that a consensus needs to be reached between parliamentary and extra-parliamentary parties and the civil society. But this is impossible to attain, even if Plahotniuc had given an African parrot to every home in Moldova. There will be no such consensus.
We must decide if we take part in the election or not. I’ve talked to Andrei Nastase, and am going to talk to Maia Sandu. I’ve said to Our Party activists that despite the incident with Vlad Batrincea, it is necessary to talk with the Socialists because this pertains to the country’s future. But the Socialists would not talk to us. They do not speak to anybody lately! Since last February, they have been preparing to the mixed electoral system. I.e. Plahotniuc has not yet made a statement about the mixed electoral system, but Dodon knows before everybody that such a system will appear.
Dodon and Plahotniuc are openly trying to annihilate us. Instead of sitting at negotiating table and speaking to the whole opposition, the Socialists and Democrats are preparing to a mixed electoral system. And when there appear candidates, you will see what an interesting situation there will be. There will be no cross-candidates so as to avoid fighting between the Socialists and Democrats. No, everything has been projected in a way to make one candidate from the two parties to struggle against our candidate.
Due to dubious ties with Plahotniuc, the Socialists will soon find themselves at war with everybody. Presently, the country’s greatest anti-rating is with Plahotniuc. But if Igor Dodon does not stop, he will shortly become the holder of such highest anti-rating. Yes, several meetings with Putin over such a short period of time have consolidated Dodon and the Party of Socialists. But Putin had meetings with Filat, and with Lupu, and with Voronin.
(The interview with Renato Usatii was recorded on March 23, 2017. The NM applied for an interview with Vladimir Plahotniuc, but his press service has not replied yet.)