31 May 2020

Gheorghe Russu

Vice-director, The Center for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption

Parties-Phantoms, Parties - State Institutions, Parties - State Enterprises


20 parties have registered in the current election campaign. Many people say it is a too big number for such a small country as Moldova. At the same time, much more parties could take part in the election campaign.

Last week illustrated

Activists launch Moldova’s first ‘Space Camp’ © Susan Coughtrie

Republic of Moldova - polygon for testing "dirty" electoral techniques (II)

Although since April 5 till July 29, when anticipated elections were held, the electoral system in Moldova did not undergo any changes to better, and the electoral rolls were not renewed either, as it was requested, one single party turned out to be unsatisfied with the results of the July elections and alleged that fraud was committed.
Lilia GUREZ, Igor VOLNIŢCHI, 18 September 2009, 11:36

In July of 2009 we published an investigation, providing evidence and testimonies proving that the parliamentary elections in the Republic of Moldova held on July 5, 2009 were accompanied by acts of fraud, which influenced the results of the elections by 10-15%. After the April elections, the opposition parties and a number of domestic and international organizations caused a wide scandal regarding the results of the elections and accused the Party of Communists of committing those frauds. Although since April 5 till  July 29, when anticipated elections were held, the electoral system in Moldova did not undergo any changes to better, and the electoral rolls were not renewed either, as it was requested, one single party turned out to be unsatisfied with the results of the July elections and alleged that fraud was committed. However, neither this party stated clearly who committed that fraud. The rest of the parties had no objections, although, just as in the first elections, a lot of electoral frauds and violations were committed this time.

The dead people continue „to vote" in Moldova      

Although the names of dead people entered on the electoral rolls have made an issue widely discussed in the Moldovan society lately, in the July elections things did not change much. Lots of names of such „voters" still could be found on the electoral rolls. Olga Straton, Executive Director of the Moldovan Association of Legal Clinics, told us that, for example, at the polling station no.229 in Chisinau, a number of names of dead people could be found on the electoral rolls, such as Gheorghiev Mihail, entered on the roll with the address 48, Grigore Ureche str.; at the polling station no.161, Prodan Ana - 17, G.Latina str.; Cocer Raisa - 14/1 P. Zadnipru str.; Malenco Sergiu - 14, P. Zadnipru str.; Mimescu Valeriu 17/1 G. Latină str.(the numbers of flats are not mentioned here, as the provision of such information might violate the right of the relatives of the dead people to private life; nevertheless we are ready to provide it to the relevant bodies, if needed).

 „Ghost" voters

Just like in the case of the previous elections, the electoral rolls contained names of people that did not even exist. At least, on the addresses attributed to them. According to Olga Straton, Olga Verhovscaia, for example, was entered on the rolls with the address 32, Florilor str., apartment no.117, and that's not her real address; Cojocari Marfa, born in 1914, entered on the electoral rolls with the following address - apartment no.2, 36/6 Zelinschi str., the owner of which has not heard about her. "Ghost" voters were also entered on the electoral rolls at the polling stations no.32, no.54 and no.11 in Balti. This is, for example, Vidras Ludmila and Ermolaeva Nadejda - 30/15, Conev str.; Onopcenco Zinaida, 34/7 Alexandru cel Bun str.; Babaeva Alexandra -28/46 Alexandru cel Bun str.; Tcaci Stefan - 91/15 Sevcenco str. At the polling station no.166 in Chisinau 4 persons with the surname Andronici were entered on the electoral rolls with the address 28 M. Sadoveanu, flat no.222. Again, the real owners of the flat have never heard about them.

Most incredibly, some of the „ghost voters" were entered on the rolls with addresses, which belong to certain political leaders. Therefore, when Vlad Filat, leader of Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova, came to the polling station he found out that two strangers were registered at his place. „Obviously we notified the electoral staff about this irregularity and they had to deal with it", said Vlad Filat.

We addressed this issue in our discussion with Vasile Garbuz, observer team coordinator, appointed by the League for Defense of Human Rights for Balti town. „We've checked the electoral rolls at five polling stations. They were used in the July elections and contained a lot of names of individuals, who no longer had those addresses for long time". The same rolls were used in the April elections. This fact reveals that the local governments, although obliged to renew the electoral rolls for the anticipated elections, „did nothing to improve them", he said.

Voting instead of other person - widely used in Moldova again

The July elections were also accompanied by cases of voting for somebody else. A case beyond the imagination was recorded at the polling station no.4 in Drochia town. Valentina Cebotari, observer team coordinator in Drochia, told us that next to Mariana Bejan, one of the persons included on the electoral roll, there were two signatures, and none of them belonged to her. „Having arrived at the polling station, Mariana Bejan found out that somebody had already voted for her. She called the observers, who noticed that, although one of the signatures looked like the original one to some extent, it still did not belong to Mariana Bejan", she says.

Rima Placinta, project assistant under the League for Defense of Human Rights, says that such cases were tracked down in a number of localities across the country: at the polling station no.4 in Cahul - the mother and brother of Munteanu Alexandr, who had been living abroad for 6 years and was no.1476 on the electoral roll, found out that somebody voted for him; that is also the case of Vasile Mitu who saw a signature next to his name on the electoral roll at the polling station no.13, which also meant that somebody voted for him and Ion Popusoi, residing in Cimislia, who after finding out that somebody else had voted for him, asked to be entered on the additional roll to vote etc.

Names twice entered on the electoral rolls; one name found 52 (!) times

The practice of entering one and the same voter several times on the electoral rolls keeps being applied in Moldova. According to Rima Placinta, at the polling stations no.1 and no.3 in Causeni, for example, in a number of cases one name could be found twice on the rolls. At the polling station no.198 in Chisinau municipality, one and the same voter was entered twice on the electoral rolls: with the names Tacu Fiodor and Tacu Tudor (Tudor is the Romanian translation of Fiodor).

At the polling station no.180 in Chisinau, a person was given two ballots and both of them were thrown into the ballot box. At the polling station no.226 there was an attempt to throw two ballots into the ballot box (with the stamp applied next to the Party of Communists in Moldova).

There was even a case far beyond the imagination, when one and the same voter was entered on the voting rolls 52 times with different ID data at the polling station no.7 in Chisinau.

Communists - extremely preoccupied with mobile voting

Just as in the case of the previous elections, in the July elections a number of electoral frauds were committed by means of the mobile voting. Although the Moldovan legislation in place states clearly how people who are physically disabled or cannot come to the polling station for other valid reasons can request to use the mobile ballot box, it is unknown why mostly the representatives of the Party of Communists pretended to act as „advocates" for this category of people. For example, at the polling station no.8 in Caplani, Stefan Voda rayon, the PCRM representative submitted 17 typed applications for mobile voting; at the polling station no.29 in Talmaza, Stefan Voda rayon, a PCRM member submitted to the polling section 24 applications for mobile voting, while at the polling station no.5 in Antonesti, Stefan Voda rayon - 24 applications for mobile voting; another PCRM member submitted to the polling station no.54 in Zaicani, Riscani rayon 104 applications for mobile voting; unsurprisingly, it was the member of the rayonal electoral council in Causeni, representing PCRM, who submitted to the polling station the lists of individuals who requested the mobile ballot box, etc.

It is a strange thing, but many of the people for whom the communists requested mobile voting seemed to know nothing about it. For example, at the polling station in Causeni, out of 24 voters entered on the electoral rolls for mobile voting, 16 appeared and voted at the polling stations.

Vera Ciuhcitu, observer team coordinator in Causeni, told us that a similar case was reported at the polling station no.1 in this town. „The chairman of the polling station bureau approved the list of 57 persons who apparently applied for mobile voting, some of them having already cast their vote at the polling station", she told us.

250 lei and a glass of vodka for a vote for communists

The July elections were accompanied by a number of cases of corrupting voters. Rima Placinta told us that at the polling station no.56 in Slobozia Mare, Cahul, Balali Vasile, chairman of the PCRM territorial organization in Slobozia Mare, Covalgiu Petru, PCRM observer and Iatco Iacob, PCRM member, were making election propaganda inside the polling station, were taking the people after casting the votes to bars, buying alcoholic drinks to them. „At the same time, a group of 5-6 women was seen waiting to be paid for the vote cast for PCRM by the persons mentioned above. Some of them did receive 250 lei (about $USD 23-24), while others, being ignored, were showing signs of indignation, causing an unbelievable chaos. Cojan Constantin, LADOM observer (League for Defense of Human Rights in Moldova), physician in Colibasi village, who reported this case was warned by certain PCRM members and threatened with losing his job" he said.

In Bogzesti village, Telenesti rayon, the citizen Vitalie Mereuta was pouring wine to voters urging them to vote for PCRM, while at 50 meters from the polling station a group of people were grilling barbeque and feeding the voters. In the grocery nearby people were given food products, cleansers, drinks paid by the mayor of Bogzesti, who is PCRM representative.

In a number of polling stations, the electoral staff and observers were seen advising the voters for whom to vote. For example, at the polling station no.2 in Telenesti town, E. Demihova, PCRM observer, was trying to influence the citizens to vote for PCRM. The members of the polling station bureau in Leuntea village, Causeni rayon were urging citizens to vote for the first candidate on the ballot (PCRM). At the polling station no.61 in Chisinau, the PCRM observers I. Socolov and V. Baretnev were trying to influence the vote cast by citizens, by making election propaganda inside the polling station. The citizens were urged to vote for PCRM by the members of the bureau at the station no.196 in Chisinau, as well.

By the way, on the day of the elections, in many polling stations individuals, whose presence was unauthorized, were influencing the voters. For example, at the polling station no.51 in Rudi village, Donduseni rayon, the mayor Raneta Zinaida, representing PCRM, stayed all day long inside the polling station; at the station no.14 in Surchiceni village, Causeni rayon, the mayor Borzin Maria could also be seen in the polling station; in Soldanesti, Djumber Todua, PCRM representative, stayed inside the polling station in Cot village without any accreditation for the most part of the day, while the LP representative could be seen in some of the polling stations in Soldanesti. In the Telenesti rayon, the mayors of the villages Banesti Vechi, Chistelnita, Ghiliceni were often present inside the polling stations.

Many mayors did not embarrass to give the citizens a ride to the polling stations, action which can also be seen as influencing their choice. For example, at the polling station no.13 in Corjova village, Criuleni rayon, the son of the PCRM observer, Gorceac Mihail, was giving the voters a ride by his own vehicle; the mayor of Leuntea village in Causeni rayon, was seen giving a ride to citizens to the polling station as well; in Soroca village, Glodeni rayon two vehicles were noticed, including the car of the Glodeni mayor (used for work purposes), taking aged people to the polling stations in Glodenti town; at the polling station no.11/20 in Cimislia rayon, the mayor gave a ride to some people, two of which were drunk, to the polling station; in Ioan Voda village, Ciutulesti commune, Floresti rayon, Natalia Mihailuta, school principal, was making propaganda for PCRM to the citizens of Ioan Voda, with residence in Ciutulesti, and was making groups of eight people and taking them by car to the polling station in Ciutulesti village etc.

Citizens deprived of the constitutional right to vote

Unprecedented cases were recorded in the July elections (at least, they had not been heard about much) - certain citizens were deprived of their right to vote. This is the case of two aged women in Balti town. „Mrs. Secareanu (Parhomenko str.) and Mrs. Dabija (Parhomenco str.), assigned to the polling section no.29, had not been entered on the electoral rolls. Without knowing this, they requested the mobile ballot box in the morning of the elections day. They were not announced until evening that they might have been entered on the electoral rolls at another polling station, where they subsequently were not allowed to vote. Although for April elections they could find their names on the electoral roll, this time they couldn't; hence, they were not allowed to vote", said Rima Placinta.

Another example in this respect is the case of the polling station no.217 in Floresti where several citizens came from certain villages, saying that they couldn't vote there (even if they lived there) as their residency is recorded in Chisinau. The students came to Chisinau to vote, but their residency permit in Chisinau had expired and they were also not allowed to vote. 115 cases of this kind were reported in Floresti alone.

Signs of „carousel" fraud in Moldova

Some signs of carousel voting, one of the widely known election frauds, which is, at the same time, one of the most difficult to track down, were recorded in the July elections in Moldova. The scheme is simple: the voter is given a ballot stamped next to a certain candidate; then the former comes to the polling station, takes a clean ballot, enters the voting booth, then comes out and throws into the ballot box the ballot stamped beforehand. The voter gives the clean ballot to the person who gave him/her the stamped ballot and receives a financial award.

In the July elections, there were also cases when the stamps used for voting were left without supervision, or taken out of the polling stations, cases when clean ballots disappeared, or were found in the polling booth, or outside the polling stations etc.

For example, in Ocnita rayon, Girbova village, one stamp was missing when all the documents and materials were handed to the Rayonal Electoral Council; in Ocnita rayon, Otaci village, one stamp was left in the Electoral Bureau, and was to be brought later to the Rayonal Electoral Council; at the polling station no.1 in Cimislia, when counting the votes, two ballots were found folded together, one of which being clean, while the second one bearing the stamp next to PCRM; at the station no.30 in Straseni a person went out of the polling station with the ballot, but at 15 meters from the station was made to return back; at the station no.238 in Chisinau, a clean white paper with the same size as the ballot was found instead of a lacking ballot; at the station no.205 in Chisinau two voters took the ballots out of the station; at the station no.48 in Chisinau a ballot was found in the polling booth (it might have been forgotten or left deliberately); at the station no.47 in Chisinau a citizen went out of the station with the ballot; at the station no.38 in Sofia village, Drochia rayon a packet of 100 clean ballots was missing; somebody tried to take a ballot out of the polling stations no.2 in Cahul and no.172.

The most serious case of this kind was reported in Cahul, where Elaschin Alexei, PCRM observer, took the stamp out of the polling station no.1. A member of the bureau, notified by the observers, got him at about 150 meters from the polling station. When asked, Elaschin said that there was something wrong with the stamp and he wanted to fix it. An appeal was lodged with the Regional Electoral Council no.7 in Cahul in this respect; however, instead of being removed, the observer was allowed to go on monitoring the suffrage till the end. Therefore, that was a violation of the Electoral Code provisions.

A sign of carousel fraud can be the discrepancy between the number of ballots issued by CEC and number of ballots recorded in the minutes, totalizing the results of the suffrage, drafted by the rayonal electoral bureaus, tracked down by the Christian Democratic People's Party. The representative of this party, Radu Busila claims that 3 204 ballots disappeared. „For example, according to the delivery-receipt paper CEC issued to the polling stations in the capital 683 398 ballots, while in the minutes totalizing the results of the elections only 680 461 ballots are recorded; so there is a difference of 2 937 of ballots. Where are they? Why were the minutes signed if 2 937 ballots were missing and why haven't the relevant bodies taken attitude in this respect till now?" he asked.

The head of the electoral staff of Christian Democratic People's Party (PPCD), Dinu Turcanu, claims that those ballots could have been used for the „carousel" fraud. „The „carousel" method, which helps win over a hundred of votes with a single ballot, is well known. And if, for example, we multiply the ballots disappeared in Chisinau by one hundred, we get a quite high figure. Such serious violations have not been reported in any elections since 1994; and in the April elections either. This case has no precedent, but can become a very dangerous one for the future elections", says Dinu Turcanu.

By the way, PPCD lodged an appeal with the Moldovan Constitutional Court on this issue, but the latter turned it down without providing publicly reasons for such a decision.

Electoral rolls classified

The behavior of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) was quite weird in both 2009 Moldovan electoral campaigns in general, and in that for the July elections in particular. Therefore, in comparison to the April elections, when any person had free access to the electoral rolls and was able to check whether the dead people, the people living abroad etc. voted, then in the case of July elections, the Moldovan Supreme Court of Justice adopted, several days before the elections day, a decision prohibiting the access to the electoral rolls.

 „This is a fair decision, as the electoral rolls contain personal information, which cannot be made public", said Iurie Ciocan, CEC Secretary. According to him, this decision had nothing to do with the events following the April elections, when the access to the electoral rolls was allowed and, as a result, a number of cases of fraud were reported.

By the way, article 8 „Access to personal information" in the Law on the protection of personal data says in paragraph 1 that „Personal information, which is the information related to an identified or identifiable private person, and the disclosure of which might become a violation of the intimacy of a person, shall be confidential". Therefore, according to this law, the data linked exclusively with the identification of a person (data contained in the ID) are not regarded as confidential. The electoral rolls contain only the address, besides the data from the ID. The court, most probably, meant this kind of information in its decision, although nobody claimed that his/her right to personal data confidentiality was violated at the time when this information was public and almost anyone had access to it.

At the same time, Vasile Spinei, head of the „Acces-Info" Center considers that „the electoral rolls should have been public and that there was no reason for classifying them by a decision of the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ)". „The data contained in the electoral rolls cannot be considered confidential, as, they are made public before the elections and any citizen can have access to them. Free access to the electoral rolls is a normal thing. It improves the participation of people in elections and the control over such an important, democratic process, like elections. There is no logic behind the SCJ decision, as, according to the law on the personal data protection, the ID data, contained in the electoral rolls, are not considered confidential. This decision is a step backwards as regards the free access to information in the Republic of Moldova", told us Vasile Spinei.

Implementation of the Electronic Registry of Constituents delayed for doubtful reasons

The number of frauds could have been much smaller if the Electronic Registry of Constituents, prescribed by the legislation in force, were in place in the April and July elections. The point is that some „mysteries" are hovering over the issue of the implementation of this Registry.

The State Registry of Constituents was to be developed and implemented under the UNDP program „Electoral Support to Moldova", the budget of which was estimated at $USD 4.5 mil. Additional grants for the project were expected to come from the European Commission. Software developers, equipment providers, a control system, activities for training the performers and regional organization were needed to implement the project. A tender had been announced in this respect to manage to implement the Registry in 2009. However, at the beginning of the year, the tender was cancelled, and Moldova entered into elections applying old methods which leave room for fraud.

Veaceslav Balan, manager of „Electoral Support to Moldova" project says that the tender for the development of the Electronic Registry of Constituents was cancelled at the beginning of this year, „as none of the bids met the technical and financial requirements set". „All those involved in the project made their best to initiate the development of the State Registry of Constituents. We cannot disclose the identity of the companies participating in the cancelled tender, either the details of the bids made. At this moment, we do not know the total costs of the development and implementation of the State Registry of Constituents. In our opinion, the Registry is a component part of a complex system, which will be developed in several stages. We will resume the work on this project until the end of this year. There are several trends in the work on the development of this system, while the system development procedure will be decided afterwards".

Other sources, however, disclosed that the bids were submitted by six companies, three of them being promoted to the second stage (two Moldovan companies „Alfa Soft" and „Deeplace" and one Spanish company, the name of which is kept secret for unknown reasons). The participants in the tender say that they were well prepared for the tender, having spent one month making calculations and collecting the documents needed. Almost all the staff of the companies discontinued the current projects and got involved in the preparation for the tender. However, the tender was cancelled.

Iurie Coroban, „Alfa Soft" director, claims that his company had not even been informed officially about the cancellation of the tender, and no reasons for this were provided at its request.

„The symbiosis between the Central Electoral Commission and UNDP looked suspicious from the very start, especially if we think about the deadline of the tender set for December 1, 2008 and the results not examined until January and the 30 days planned for the development of the Registry. That means that instead of giving the developers of the registry at least one more month to develop the best system, they wasted the time for two months. After holding private discussions with the beneficiaries, we had the feeling that they were in general not ready for any system. I felt like the beneficiaries were just afraid that certain Moldovan companies will take part in this project, while the foreign company asked too high a price" said the director of the company.

Veaceslav Cunev, „Depleece" director, told us that „there is no legal reason for canceling the tender and there have never been".

„I think that nothing can justify the lack of reliability on domestic companies, which has become the most important issue among many others. „Deeplece" is in charge of the largest electronic project at state and bank levels, including the Tax Inspectorate, while „Alfa Soft" has rich experience of implementing state programs in a number of European countries. All the companies have international certificates. The price we asked was just to cover the costs, as we understand that the image is much more expensive. If we asked to small a price in comparison to what was asked by the Spanish company, thus making the commission think that we are too cheap because we promote the interests of the opposition, that's not appropriate. On the other hand, after the discussions held with the CEC managers, we understood that the commission had no idea of the amount of work needed to be done", he said.

Subsequently, it was CEC that complained of the "low quality of the electoral rolls" and "inadequate attitude of the drafters towards the electoral rolls".    

Thus, Eugen Stirbu, chairman of CEC, claimed that „the mayors had an inadequate attitude towards the drafting of the electoral rolls for the July parliamentary elections, although this is a task assigned to them by the current legislation". He reminded that it was for the first time when mayors provided the electoral rolls in electronic form as well. The CEC chairman says that the latter turned out to be of „a quite low quality" and CEC had to return some of them back. At the same time, Eugen Stirbu said that the electronic electoral rolls developed for the July elections will be taken into account when developing the Electronic Registry of Constituents, which CEC intends to implement in the nearest future.

Regardless of the reasons which slowed down the implementation of the Electronic Registry of Constituents, it is obvious that, if used as the legislation prescribes, Moldova would have been much closer to the standards of free and fair elections.

Observers and political actors make confusing assessments

Even if the parliamentary elections held on July 29, 2009 were accompanied by fraud, the assessments made by observers and political actors were slightly confusing. If in April elections, the observers were inclined to believe that the elections were quite fair, while the opposition parties were pretending that the amount of fraud was enormous,  now things have changed: the domestic observers claim that the elections were partially free and fair and the foreign observers assessed the elections as meeting, to a great extent, the international standards (although certain issues attracted their criticism in this sense), while the parties (except for PPCD) have a quite unclear stance - there were frauds, but it is not clear what is their impact on the final result. However, no party (again, except for PPCD) lodged an appeal with the Constitutional Court in this respect.

The representative of a political party explained this strange behavior, on condition of anonymity. „Acts of fraud were committed and, obviously, mostly by the representatives of the governing Party of Communists. Otherwise the victory of the democrats would have been much more expressive (The democrats won only 53 seats out of 101 in Parliament). Nevertheless, we knew that there is no use of lodging an appeal with the Constitutional Court. We did it after the April elections and submitted lots of evidence that acts of fraud were committed, but there was no result - the court just ignored us. The most important thing now is that we managed to leave the communists over the board of power and have the opportunity to apply the democratic standards in the country", we were told.

Thus, unlike in the April elections, when a number of opposition leaders criticized hardly the international observers, blaming them of not being sufficiently attentive during the elections and of coming to Moldova rather for tourism then work, this time nobody had any response of this kind. The OSCE/ODIHR Mission accredited 230 observers both in April and July elections. At our request to provide information about the costs of these missions to Moldova, Jens-Hagen Eschenbaecher, the Mission spokesman said that, unfortunately, he could not do it. However, a document on the costs of an international observer in the April elections can be found on the website It says that the costs had increased significantly in comparison with the last mission for the local elections in 2007. On the whole, for seven days in Moldova, including the accommodation in a hotel not exceeding the price of 100 Euro, the OSCE/ODIHR Mission spent 1602 Euro for one observer. 45 Euro per day were paid for meals, 30 Euro per day - for interpreter, if needed, and 28 Euro - for car, fuel; moreover, there was the payment for the observers' plane tickets.

The League for Defense of Human Rights in Moldova accredited 2043 observers for the April elections in 2009, with a budget of $USD 193.3 thousand, while for the July elections (2009) 1898 observers with a total budget of 160.9 thousand Euro.

The political analyst Oleg Cristal thinks that in July elections the national observers did their job better then in those hold on April 5. However, the lack of criticism against the national and international observers has another reason. "There are certain interests behind any criticism. We can conclude that on July 29 neither of the important political actors was interested in addressing accusations and criticism to the organizations that monitored the elections. There were other priorities, which derived from the results of the elections. PCRM won only 48 seats in Parliament, while the opposition parties, taken all together, 53 seats. Therefore the opposition has the opportunity to take over the governing of the country and has no reason to make an appeal against results which are in their favor.  I would like to remind you the statements made by certain opposition parties during the electoral campaign for the anticipated elections, that "fraudulent actions have already been committed". Given such statements, an appeal submitted to CEC and the Constitutional Court against the results of the elections allegedly achieved by "fraud" would have been appropriate".

At the moment we can do nothing than wait and see whether the democrats will keep their promises and will eradicate the electoral fraud in Moldova, so that the electoral processes become truly democratic and reflect the peoples' choice exclusively.

The investigation has been financed under the Scoop project in Denmark

Readers' comments
Recent comments:
iannn, 30 October 2009, 10:33
250 and a glass of vodka...ohhh well....I need say no more....
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