Integrity

Igor Dodon and denigrating flyers about Maia Sandu

How flyers, printed illegally reach houses of voters from all districts of the Republic of Moldova

Pliantele aduse la sediul Uniunii Ofițerilor din Moldova Foto: CIJM
Author: Victoria Dodon
07/11/2016 56585

Flyers containing denigrating and manipulating messages about the candidate of the Party Action and Solidarity Maia Sandu are shared in full presidential campaign both in the capital and in the districts. The flyers warning about a possible invasion of refugees in Moldova, close of kindergartens, disappearance of villages and "danger" of homosexuals, do not contain information about  the author of printed flyers, the number of flyers and the money used for them, which contravenes to the electoral law. General Police Inspectorate argues that they are investigating the case. Reporters of the Center for Investigative Journalism found who planned the spread of this false information. In fact, the flyers are distributed a few steps from the Interior Ministry, in the office of the Union of Officers of Moldova. PSRM leader Igor Dodon, Maia Sandu’s opponent in presidential elections has had close ties with this organisation for many years.

In late October, on the eve of the first round of presidential elections, flyers containing symbols of the Party Action and Solidarity (PAS) and the name of the party leader Maia Sandu, but which have a denigrating message about the politician were distributed in Chisinau and in other Moldovan settlements. Among other things, the flyers show that if Maia Sandu is elected president of the state, she will open the borders for thousands of migrants, districts and entire villages will disappear,  schools, kindergartens and hospitals will close, and same-sex marriages will be legalized. "Maia Sandu will cede the ravaged country to refugees, gays and unionists", read the flyers, that were shared to students of the Moldova State University. 

Photo: CIJM

The flyer does not contain information about the author of this idea, period of printing, the name of the editing house or the number of printed copies, which is a violation of the Electoral Code:

ELECTORAL CODE of the Republic of Moldova 

Article 641. Peculiarities of covering elections by media 

(6) The contender is responsible for the content of electoral advertising that is broadcast or published. Each advertising material must include the name of contender, printing date, number of copies and the name of the publishing company. Paid advertising will be accompanied by the slogan "Elections".

Maia Sandu described the information from flyers as false and attempted denigration on behalf of her opponents. Furthermore, on October 28, representatives of PAS filed a complaint with the Inspectorate General of Police (IGP) and demanded initiation of an investigation "to identify those who organized printing, transportation and distribution of these unlawful flyers, punishing them under legal norms". Also, they require that the competent bodies take urgent measures to stop the distribution of these materials.

"We have attached two copies of flyers to the complaint.  The flyers were brought by someone at the office of the party.  We spoke to Mr.  Cavcaliuc (Gheorghe Cavcaliuc, deputy-head of IGP - n.r.), he ordered one of his subordinates in Centru district to take our complaint. The complaint was registered and Mr. Cavcaliuc explained steps to investigate into this case. Since then, we have not been contacted about this complaint", said Dan Perciun, member of the national permanent Office of PAS.  

„Police must do their job”

The complaint was filed a week ago and representatives of IGP said that they have not found the perpetrators yet. "The person who filed this complaint informed us that he saw people from Gara de Sud sharing these flyers. We went on site, we have not found anything, and we do not have results yet. The case is being investigated. We are in full campaign and other flyers  might be shared in the days to come. We will take a legal decision after actions related to elections are completed", said Diana  Savciuc, head of the Division of public security of the Police Inspectorate Centru for the Center for Investigative Journalism.

Representatives of the Party Action and Solidarity informed the Central Election Commission about this case, on the same day, October 28. CEC secretary Veaceslav Agrigoroaie said that he did not receive such a letter. "These problems are part of the election campaign.  Correct or incorrect- the police must detain the perpetrators. CEC would not take action because other flyers can be printed in the days to come, by the other party, or the instigator can print himself flyers. The police must do their job", added his colleague Iurie Ciocan from CEC.

Office of the Union of Officers of Moldova (UORM)
Photo: CIJM

Distribution of flyers, not far from the Interior Ministry 

Reporters of the Center for Investigative Journalism found who planned this scheme and how the materials in question arrive at people's homes. It happens right in the center of Chisinau, not far from the office of the Interior Ministry, on str. Stefan cel Mare 142, where the office of the Union of Officers of Moldova (UORM) is located on the second floor.

On Friday, November 3, a new set of about 200,000 flyers was brought to the office of the NGO. According to our sources, herefrom the members of the Union - mostly retirees but not only - spread them in each district of the capital. Another part of materials printed both in Romanian and in Russian, are distributed to districts where the Union of Officers have  representations. 

We failed to find out where leaflets were printed, but an expert in the field argues that it's a simple printer. "Looking at the quality of printing, we deduce that they were printed. Specifically, different printers, because the colors are different both in Russian and Romanian variants, namely, the ink differs", argues Veaceslav Dreglea, commercial director of a printing company in the capital.

Packages with denigrating flyers, brought to the  office of the Union of Officers. The flag of UORM and the portraits of many officers, displayed on office walls, are revealed in images:

An audio recording that came into our possession, but we do not publish it for security reasons, confirmed that several members of the Union of Officers are discussing on the distribution of  newly printed flyers and the importance of voting on November 13. "Sitting at home, you will not gain anything. Go and vote!", says one of them. "I told  my people in the district: «If you do not vote with Dodon, I will never come to you»", commented another. "We will take as many as we need. If they are not enough, we will give more”, said another. 

From the discussion, we find that someone calls on speakers not to conduct any campaigning, because this is not the profile of the organization. 

Foto: CIJM

- I can give you back, here it is.

- Why?

- Do not do politics! We are not a political organization!

- This is not politics.

- Why is it about Maia Sandu?

- It is against Maia Sandu! (...) it is exactly what she is promoting. 

-It is not our business!

We went to the Union of Officers to ask some flyers under the guise of distributing them to students. The man in the office helped us without hesitation. "Take as many as you need. There appeared an outstanding personality in our country:  she does not work and now she wants to become president. Take both, it is a set", he said making allusion to Maia Sandu. 

UORM is a voluntary organization founded in July 1999, and comprises soldiers and officers both in service and in reserve or retired, for various defense structures: the National Army, Interior Ministry, SIS, frontier guards, carabineers, sailors, etc. The association has branches in all districts of the country and in every sector of the capital. According to the organization's website, at present, the Union has about 4,500 officers, including six MPs in Parliament and 1013 councilors in local public authorities. The membership fee is 50 lei per month.

Chairman of UORM is Brigadier General Victor Gaiciuc, who replaced Vadim Misin, former MP and former leader of party Renasterea. Gaiciuc  was Minister of Defence between 2001 and 2004, in the componence of the Government Tarlev, and was dismissed by presidential decree following a scandal over illegal theft  of a set of weapons from the deposits of the National Army. Soon, the serviceman was appointed Moldovan Ambassador to Belgium and Moldova's representative to NATO. Currently, he is director of Acord Grup insurance company. The Joint Stock Company was founded in 2002 and has a social capital of 37 million lei. In April 2015, Gaiciuc became chairman of the Board of the National Bureau of Motor Insurers in  Moldova (BNAA).

Colonel Alexandru Maliuga is secretary of UORM. According to our sources, he might be responsible for distribution of flyers and he calls people in districts and checks development of process.

Socialist Dodon, old friend of officers and veterans 

Igor Dodon has been supporting this Union for many years, including financially. Moreover, the socialist is the godfather of the youngest son of Victor Gaiciuc, Sergiu Gaiciuc.  He organized the wedding in September 2011, and the press wrote then that the family Dodon were godparents for the fourth time. According to Ziarul de Garda, the bride Ina Ceban, is the daughter of a street saleswoman from "gold business", detained several times by undercover police from Special Missions. PSRM leader recognized his relationship with Victor Gaiciuc.

Otherwise, Igor Dodon does not hide his close relationship with members of UORM, being present at numerous events organized by them. On February 23, 2016 in a meeting dedicated to the Day of Veterans of Armed Forces and of law enforcement, the politician shared flowers to people who served the motherland and he delivered a speech from the rostrum. Victor Gaiciuc, in turn, thanked Dodon for contribution to organize this festive event.

Igor Dodon next to Victor Gaiciuc (1), giving a speech and offering flowers during the Veterans Day Photo: ofiterii.md

 

In another meeting held in mid-September, dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Independence of the Republic of Moldova, the members of the Union have signed a statement urging citizens to vote in elections for a president who condemns unionism and promotes the country's sovereignty. "We need a president who will defend Moldovan statehood and Orthodox religion, will restore friendly relations with our strategic partner - the Russian Federation," writes the statement. “Thanks to Igor Dodon’s efforts and of the party in general, we contributed with financial support and developed events related to military and patriotic education", commented Victor Gaiciuc. Leader of PSRM was present:

Video source: youtube.com/Union of Officers in the Republic of Moldova

A message of supporting the Socialist candidate in the presidential election this year is posted on the website of UORM by the People’s Movement “Let Us Save Moldova". "He is a patriot and the only politician who advocates sovereignty, neutrality and integrity of Moldova. We call on the country's voters, political parties and social movements, to give up their ambitions and vote with heart. Not for Igor Dodon but for Moldova, its future and integrity", writes the post published on October 24, one week before the first round of elections.

Any involvement - denied 

President of the Union of Officers denies of having spread flyers with the help of this organization. "I have no idea what you mean. We are a public organization. If someone committed himself to this and is one’s opinion, I cannot prohibit, but we do not have flyers and printing", said Victor Gaiciuc.

PSRM leader has also hinted that he does not have any connection with printing flyers in question. " The  flyers distributed by PSRM contain printing data  and  they are part of the electoral campaign," said Igor Dodon. Asked about the relations with the Union of Officers, candidate for presidential elections did not comment.

On the other hand, Maia Sandu argues that the lack of response from the IGP shows "once again that institutions are in deep coma". "If the evidence is conclusive, we will notify CEC and law enforcement. Although we do not delude ourselves - we know that these institutions are not captive and act independently. An investigative reporter managed to do what all Moldovan police failed to do within ten days. About Dodon’s involvement in this scheme - we assumed that  he is involved in this case with the publications, but we did not have proof. But the style is recognizable as my opponent chose lie and dirty game, as strategy of campaign", said leader of PAS.

Denigration, widely used tool in election campaigns by socialists 

Newspaper Socialistii”

Manipulating messages on the "invasion of immigrants", close of schools, union with Romania or legalization of same-sex marriages are promoted intensively by media institutions affiliated to Igor Dodon. For example, full pages of newspaper “Socialistii”, published in Russian are covered with electoral false information. A headline in a recent edition of the newspaper says that "Voronin hinted that Maia Sandu has a non-traditional sexual orientation",  in other,  refugee problem being addressed - "The scandal is getting worse." Also, the media affiliated to PSRM made public a video in which some Syrian students from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy "Nicolae Testemitanu" declare their  support for Maia Sandu and say  that they would like that many Syrians come to Moldova. 

According to financial reports submitted to the CEC, the candidate Igor Dodon has spent within four weeks of the campaign (September 30 to October 28) 779 197 lei for publishing materials in newspaper "Socialistii", which exceed 50% of the total amount spent by the candidate for advertising  in print media (almost 1.3 million lei).  The flyers printed over this period of time cost 260,000 lei. 

Ziarul de Garda  wrote in a recent article that Dodon used  false election information in several campaigns in which he participated in order to win elections.

During the struggle for mayor of the capital in 2011, Igor Dodon accused his opponent Dorin Chirtoaca that he bought 102 buses from Belarus through a company in Romania and prejudiced the municipal budget with over 2 million euros. Dodon presented as proof in the support of his statements some excerpts from the Official Gazette (OG) of Romania. Later, he acknowledged that these pages were forged, but blamed his party colleagues. Chirtoaca has sued Igor Dodon for "defending honor, dignity and professional reputation". The case does not have finality yet, according to journalists.

They remind that local elections from that year were preceded by the denigration of some candidates, especially of Dorin Chirtoaca, by printing and disseminating falsified copies of some national newspapers such as Ziarul de Garda and Timpul.

Alleged irregularities about purchase of trolleybuses were invoked in local elections in 2015, when Socialists’ candidate Zinaida Greceanii was proposed for the seat of mayor of the capital. The Socialists claimed that Dorin Chirtoaca, acting mayor and candidate for a new mandate, purchased trolleybuses from Belarus at exaggerated price, while Skoda trolleybuses from the Czech Republic would have had a better price. The information proved to be untrue again.

This investigation was accomplished under the project „Shining a light on electoral transparency in Moldova”, carried out by the Center for Investigative Journalism with the support of Freedom House.

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