The myth of water quality in the Dniester River. Beneficiaries of pollution
● The Dniester river is very polluted and presents a danger to human health; it contains drugs, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals.
● The Ukrainian and Moldovan authorities do not constantly check the water quality of the river.
● The Wastewater Treatment Plant of Apa-Canal Chisinau is the largest pollution source of the Dniester on the territory of the Republic of Moldova.
● Corruption and defective management significantly affect the quality of river water in both countries.
Vasili, a 67-year-old retired man, has already been staying for three hours on a small island, in the middle of the Dniester River, near Mohyliv-Podilskyi, Ukraine. On its left is the Ukrainian shore, and on the right - the territory of Moldova.
The Dniester River basin covers over 70,000 square kilometres, with eight million people, being the main source of drinking water in Moldova. Moldova belongs to the category of countries with insufficient drinking water and with a high risk of impact from climate change.
"Is fishing going well?", "Yes ... it could be even better", he says, looking bitterly at the metal net, submerged in the water. I look in his net and see a few fishes with the length of a palm.
"Every year, less and less fish are caught. I have the impression that someone, upstream, steals all the fish." The inhabitants of Mohyliv-Podilskyi are convinced that the water of the river is clean because, they say, they no longer have industrial enterprises. Almost all the factories were closed 20-30 years ago. Only rusty pipes that come out on the river bank and enter the water are reminders of their existence.
On the other side of the Dniester, in Otaci, in Moldova, people argue that the Dniester water is clean. Vasili Traghira, the mayor of Otaci, says that the treatment plant, built in 2015, works "super-duper"!
"I have also implemented a project for the concrete plant products neighbourhood. We need a collection channel there because everything flows in the Dniester, our waste is domestic, we have no businesses here”, says the Moldovan mayor, as do the residents of Mohyliv-Podilskyi, Ukraine.
The main source of pollution, on the Moldovan shore, according to the mayor, would be the "Tezeu-Lux" enterprise, located upstream and specialized in acquiring quartz sand and manufacturing of pavement materials.
"Tezeu-Lux washes their sand in the Dniester River. This is why the river becomes muddy and the fish disappears. It has gills covered with sand. It's a catastrophe! The entire Moldovan shore is white because of this factory”, the mayor of Otaci adds.
The registry of the Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and Environment regarding wastewater treatment plants shows that "Tezeu-Lux" SA is the only building on the Moldovan bank of the Dniester River that has an "efficient" wastewater treatment plant.
“95% of the wastewater is cleaned. The six lakes are full of fish and crabs” says the general manager of the company, Pavel Marchenko. The businessman rejects Mayor Traghira's accusations that the company would cause environmental damage.
"We only throw bentonite, a natural cleanser in the water. If it would have killed the fish, it would also have killed everything else!”, the chief engineer of the company states.
During the visit to this company, we noticed that the penultimate basin has a pipe through which the wastewater is discharged - directly and constantly - into the Dniester. The head of the Chisinau Environmental Agency Laboratory, Petru Prodan, told us that the Dniester, in Otaci, is deep, "about eight meters", and that "the river has its purification process".
"As far as we know, there were no spills. If this is a violation, it must be reported by someone,” Dumitru Osipov, head of the Information Synthesis Section of the Environmental Protection Inspectorate of Moldova said. However, things are not quite so good in the opinion of independent international experts.
As part of a Moldovan-Ukrainian project, the employees of the Slovak Environmental Institute collected, in the summer of 2019, 13 samples to analyze the content of pesticides and industrial chemicals in the Dniester water. In four of these tests, the experts found that the norms were exceeded 8-12 times. One of the most polluted places is the Mohyliv-Podilskyi area.
The mayor of Mohyliv-Podilskyi, Piotr Brovko, reads the results of the study hastily and concludes irritably: "This is not serious!" And when the reporter reads the text about the situation of water in the Dniester in Mohyliv-Podilskyi, he inflexibly adds: "Nonsense!"
"The authors of this screening are businessmen. It works for those who pay for it. Here, I have an official certificate that the water is clean! The Sanitary-Epidemiological Station works. Where could we get pollution? We have no production facilities!”.
ECOLOGICAL TIME BOMB: HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF TONS OF TOXIC SOIL
In 2019, the OSCE auditor in the fields of ecology and consultancy, Irina Nikolaeva, studied the state of 25 grounds for toxic waste storage in the Dniester basin. A quantity of 165 million tons of radioactive and toxic industrial waste is now stored in these territories.
During the verification, the expert observed that in many cases the dangerous substances penetrate, together with the water, through the cracks of the protection dams, from where they reach the Dniester. In his report, the expert calls for problem companies such as „Neftehimik Prikarpatia”, „Oriana-EKО”, „Sera”, „Stebnitskoe GHP” „Polimineral”, „Rozdolskoe GHP”, „Sera” to be removed.
The authorities' indifference to the water quality in the Dniester is illustrated by the scandalous case of contaminated soil evacuation from a field near the city of Kalu, Ivano-Frankivsk region, Ukraine.
In early 2014, the State Ecological Inspection reported that, in 2010–2013, about 33.5 thousand tons of earth containing 35% of Hexachlorobenzene, a very dangerous toxic substance, were collected and transported from the Kallus polygon and the Dombrovsk quarry.
Within three years, 992 million hryvnias [37.9 million euros] were spent on greening this territory. But neither the financial inspection of Ukraine nor Interpol were able to confirm that about 97% of this amount - 962 million hryvnia - was spent by the Israeli company SI Group Consort to the transport this waste to Poland and the United Kingdom.
Although according to the documents the company that carried out the work had to leave an environmentally-friendly territory, now the field looks like a horror movie scene with acid lakes and barrels where toxic chemicals were kept left exposed under the open skies.
However, the locals, convinced that the danger has passed, are not disgusted to gather mushrooms in the nearby forest. The laboratory for product quality and safety in Kyiv analyzed samples from the soil of the polygon and found that the Hexachlorobenzene content exceeded the permitted norms 1,856 times in one sample, and 3,200 times in the other.
Now this poison risks reaching the waters of the Limnitsa river, an affluent of the Dniester.
Although the employees of the Moldovan Environmental Protection Inspectorate say that they are constantly trying to prevent leakage in Kallus, Tatiana Sharanapanovskaya, director of the "Iagorlic" State Nature Reserve in Dubasari, Transnistria, argues that in recent years, including the current year, a massive perishing of fish on the Middle Dniester has been attested.
Fish health is an indicator of water quality. In yichthyogist's opinion, this phenomenon can only be explained by the discharge of polluted water upstream.
"A worrying feature of this cataclysm is the expansion of the species of fish that perish. Besides the mature carp and phytophagous specimens, Sharanapanovskaya says, dead specimens of old age (10–15 kilograms), and young age (2–5 kilograms) were found, of which a significant number were of the Common roach and brim variety."
"The dead fish bodies are covered with a thick, white and dense mucous fluid, with the abdomen and lateral parts red, containing traces of chemical burns... Gills are heavily oversized, eyes full of blood ... Internal organs - full of blood, necrosis may be observed on the liver and kidneys. In some specimens complete necrosis and destruction of the kidney and liver tissues were found”, mentions the investigations published by Sharanapanovskaya.
"Also, bodies of birds and animals have been found, mainly muskrats. Here and there, the water had a cadaveric odour, with pieces of the muscular tissue from the decomposing fish", the study published by the director of the "Iagorlic" Reserve mentions, specifying that most of the dead fish were brought to shore between the villages of Cot and Bursuc, Floresti district.
The water quality in the river is monitored by the State Agency of Aquatic Resources of Ukraine, which collects samples from 12 locations. At the same time, the Dniester water must also be monitored by the ecologists of the regional state administrations. We have found that the reports on water quality are published fragmentarily or are completely missing on the official websites of the ecological inspections and of all the regional administrations.
For example, the regional office of the Aquatic Resources Agency in the Ternopil region of Ukraine does not have information on the quality of the Dniester water, which covers 262 kilometres on the territory of this administrative unit.
WATER TREATMENT PLANTS, A PROBLEM VALID FOR BOTH STATES
Yearly, in Ukraine, millions of cubic meters of water reach the water directly from sewage systems, a fact recognized in the reports of the former Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of this country. Most sewage treatment plants in Ukraine are in a sad state, their equipment is outdated both morally and physically.
For example, in the Lviv region, at the source of the Dniester River, there is Morshyn, a city with a well-known spa resort in Ukraine. Although I was told by the Lviv Regional Council that the station is working, we were convinced that the situation is the opposite.
In the city of Mykolaiv, Lviv region, we found the same situation as in Morshyn - rust everywhere, broken pipes and murky waters flowing into the Dniester. The Dniester River basin occupies more than half of the territory of the Lviv region. To make wastewater treatment possible, only six wastewater treatment plants need to be built and another 13 rebuilt in this region.
On the official website of the former Ministry of Ecology of Ukraine, there is no information on the treatment plants on the Dniester for the year 2018. On the other hand, Moldova has, according to official statistics, a sewerage network totalling 29,000 kilometres in length, with only 818,000 people out of a total of about 3.5 million having access to centralized sewerage services in 2017, or 23,1 per cent of the total population.
The total volume of wastewater collected in 2017 in Moldova amounted to 70.1 million cubic meters, of which 54.6 per cent would represent wastewater collected from the population, the rest being collected from enterprises.
In Moldova, there are about 100 treatment plants, the responsible institutions - the Environmental Agency and the Environmental Protection Inspectorate - have given us different figures.
After checking the stations in the 11 districts on the Moldovan bank of the Dniester, I found out that only one station, the Tezeu-Lux company in Otaci, was working effectively, whereas we became convinced that it did not work.
The most serious problem in this regard is in the city of Soroca, Moldova, about 50 kilometres downstream from Mohyliv-Podilskyi and Otaci. Soroca, a city of about 22,000 inhabitants, has no sewage treatment plant. Water quality is deficient here both upstream and downstream on the Dniester.
"According to evidence taken in 2018, near Soroca, in Vasilcau, from the chemical perspective, only iron is present in greater proportions”, says Petru Prodan, head of the Laboratory for water quality of the Moldova Environmental Agency.
When it comes to water quality according to the microbiological parameters measured in the 2018 report, the situation is quite alarming. "Along with the flow of the Dniester in Moldova, the pollution is increasing," said an official of the Laboratory who wished to remain anonymous. These statements by the Environmental Agency's Reference Laboratory employee ruin the role of victim in which Moldova has been posing for many years.
The values of rot bacteria, living on bodies of animals, plants or fungi are very high. The report assigned the degree of "very polluted" to these extremely dangerous bacteria in the Soroca area.
But the locals are not disgusted, moreover, they are even fishing massively here. "Does the pig not eat garbage?", is Mr Vasile's, 60, answer to the question whether it is not dangerous to eat fish caught next to the wastewater exhaust pipe into the Dniester near the town of Soroca. The cleaning of the domestic water in Soroca is done solely with chlorine, which only attenuates the negative impact.
All these problems began in Soroca in 1996, when the wastewater treatment plant in Tsekinovka, Yampil district, Vinnytsia region, Ukraine, which was also providing service to the town on the Moldovan side of the river, closed.
Although Moldova and Ukraine are now independent states, after the collapse of the USSR, the non-functioning sewage treatment plant in Tsekinovka, on the Ukrainian shore, continues to be managed by the Moldovan side. Specifically, by the "Apa-Canal Soroca" Joint Stock Company (JSC), of which the majority shareholder is the Soroca District Council.
The biggest problem is that this derelict plant is a real ecological bomb for the whole region. Irina Rachkovskaya, mayor of Tsekinovka, says that because of the wastewater discharged into the Dniester, all the wells in her village, especially those in its lower part, are polluted.
"Our village is a victim of this treatment plant," says woman borishly, characterizing the discussions on this subject as "empty talks".
Moreover, at the Tsekinovka station, seven liquefied chlorine tanks for wastewater treatment lay in waste. Two of these have a capacity of two tons, and the other five - of one ton each. No one knows how much chlorine there is in the containers, "because of the lack of a scale to weigh them".
Irina Rachkovskaya characterized the situation as "very unfortunate". "The worst thing is that we have no right to evacuate the chlorine there, because it is not our property. An annoying situation, created by the officials" she says.
"A special corridor must be opened to transport them to Moldova. Chlorine is dangerous to the atmosphere, the population must flee the area quickly [in the event of an accident]”, Dumitru Osipov, an official of the Inspectorate for Environmental Protection of Moldova warns.
GURA BICULUI, MOLDOVA’S MOST POLLUTED POINT
However, there are problems not only in the north but also upstream of the Dniester River. Gura Bicului is the most polluted point in Moldova according to the results of the screening carried out by the Environmental Institute of Slovakia. At this point, the Bic river flows into the Dniester. Limits are exceeded tenfold, while the highest number of chemical compounds being detected is 71.
The head of the Water Quality Laboratory, Petru Prodan, expressed himself more strongly about the quality of the Bic water: "If you put your hand in the water, you should go to the dermatologist immediately!”
The Bic River passes through the largest city in Moldova, Chisinau (with a population of about 700,000), where most businesses are concentrated. The greatest pollution level is recorded at the Tracom JSC, Piele JSC enterprises, the EXDRUPO municipal enterprise and the water treatment plant of the Apa-Canal Chisinau JSC.
For example, in September 2019, Chisinau was covered by an infectious smell. After investigations conducted on August 29, 2019, it was found that the Water-Sewage Treatment Station in Chisinau produced an unauthorized leakage of raw sewage in the total volume of 129.340 cubic meters into the Bic river, which amounts to a one-day quantity of treated water.
This leak caused damage of about 40 million lei (2 million euros) in one day, only.
Asked to collaborate with the authorized institutions, Apa-Canal Chisinau JSC provided a list of companies that spilt residual waters with residual values of quality indicators exceeded tenfold and more in the water sewage system.
These are the „Ionel” LLC, FCP Alex-Neosim LLC, Avia Invest LLC, Concept Grup LLC, „Melodia” LLC, „Basconlux” LLC, „Axedum” LLC, „Pegas” LLC, „Almani Lux” LLC, „Amazing Ionika” LLC, „Uzina de Tractoare TRACOM” LLC, „Slavena-Lux” LLC, „Pascofis” LLC as the note from Apa-Canal Chisinau JSC mentions.
"Many businesses do not provide pre-treatment of wastewater, but they do state that they have concluded contracts with Apa-Canal JSC. In turn, Apa-Canal JSC must purify wastewater and render them purified in the natural receptor" Lilian Munteanu, the head of the Chisinau Inspectorate for the Protection of environment says.
„A legal procedure would be for Apa-Canal JSC to terminate the contract with company X, inform us that excesses have been recorded by certain companies, which would oblige them to pay supplementary fees" Munteanu added, stressing that the Moldovan legislative framework does not allow environmentalists to carry out unannounced checks and neither does the laboratory.
Usually, the companies in Chisinau prefer to pay Apa-Canal Chisinau JSC surcharges for the polluted water, which they pour into the sewer system, rather than installing pre-treatment plants on their facilities. As a result, this inevitably leads to the faulty operation of the treatment plant in Chisinau.
Currently, the Apa-Canal Chisinau treatment plant is in the process of modernization and is working at low capacity, a process that will last until April 2020. Otherwise, according to an official, the plant has never worked at 100% capacity.
The Apa-Canal Chisinau JSC administration refused the dialogue with the reporters, only asking to be sent the questions. Those in the management of the company blame the increased concentrations of pollutants in the water flow upstream of the station.
"The wastewater flow upstream of the treatment plant is much higher than the flow of the river Bic, which is 0.2 cubic meters per second [200 buckets of water!] The volume of wastewater from the water treatment station, however, is 1.58 cubic meters per second”, the company administration points out.
WHO SPEAKS THE TRUTH
The persons responsible for water quality and environmental protection in Moldova believe that we should not panic. This fact is also confirmed by the results of analyses carried out by the Moldova Environmental Agency Reference Laboratory.
"11 districts of Moldova are bordering the Dniester, we do not have industrial enterprises producing toxic waste or chemical content", Osipov considers. In turn, Arcadie Leahu, head of the Chisinau Reference Laboratory, argues that the water in the Dniester is of relatively good quality, invoking the results of the analyzes carried out.
"The Dniester is more polluted in the north - near Naslavcea, Otaci and Soroca," Leahu said, without taking note of the results of the analysis made by the Environmental Institute of Slovakia.
After obtaining the results of the Chisinau Environmental Agency Reference Laboratory, we sent them to an independent expert from Moldova and another one from Transnistria.
Ilia Trombitki, executive director of the "Eco-Tiras" International Environmental Association of the Dniester River Keepers, a non-governmental organization, considers that the reference Laboratory analyzes "do not reflect the reality".
He explains this situation through the fact that the employees of the Chisinau Laboratory collect water samples two to three times a month, while pollution occurs in 24-48 hours."
Bacteriological data show that the water is highly polluted and presents a danger to human health," the ecologist noted, stressing that the main source of pollution is the insufficient sewerage network coverage.
The Transnistrian expert, who requested anonymity for fear of not being sanctioned by his Tiraspol bosses, explained the “exaggerated” results of the Chisinau Laboratory through the fact that the samples are collected during the working days and, most likely, from the shore level of rivers.
"The shoreline of the aquatic basins is the area of the most active natural self-purification processes, thus showing these results that are quite good", the Transnistrian expert states.
At the same time, the source quoted believes that it is "embarrassing" to have such a small list of parameters, which make it possible to determine above all the communal pollutants.
"Any other source of pollution that causes the death of fish, plants, crustaceans, molluscs, zooplankton remains practically outside the analysis."
Dr Jorg Rechenber, head of Aquatic Resources Administration in Dessau, Germany, told us, invoking his experience, that the more sporadic the analyzes are, the better the results are and, conversely, the more frequently they are performed, the better their reflection of reality.
I inquired with the State Agency for Aquatic Resources of Ukraine for a list of companies that pollute the Dniester. In response, I received a list of 13 state and private companies. In 2018, all these companies spilt 10 000 000 cubic meters of wastewater into the Dniester alone. The largest polluter is the "Infoskvodokanal" Odessa company. This company provides the city of Odessa and localities surrounding it on a range of 100 kilometres with water.
We were surprised by the fact that having two treatment plants, "Infoksvodokanal" pollutes the Dniester. "I promise that we will provide detailed answers to all the questions" the press secretary of the company, who introduced himself as Sergei told us. In the end, he didn't provide any answers.
Analyzing the list of companies offered by the Aquatic Resources Agency of Ukraine, I noticed that the activity of some was either suspended or terminated.
We wrote to the authorities of the Lviv region, where there are construction material companies. But here the information provided by the profile agency has not been confirmed either.
In turn, the regional administrations of the Ukraine State Ecological Inspectorate offer their lists of companies that discharge wastewater. Ukrainian ecological inspectors do not mention any company indicated by the Ukrainian Water Resources Agency.
For example, the Department of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Odessa region found that in 2017 over 29,000,000 cubic feet of unclean water reached the Dniester. This volume is more than three times the figures indicated in its report by the Ukraine State Agency of Water Resources, talking about the discharges from all (!) Regions taken together.
In other words, the Ukrainian law is very gentle to those who violate the law in force. This situation is confirmed by concrete figures. In 2018–2019, those who polluted the Dniester caused losses of 4 million hryvnias. However, fines for violating the law worth 57,000 hryvnias [almost 2,200 euros].
Yet, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
WHO’S POCKETING THE MONEY
Despite this clear evidence of massive pollution and imminent danger, authorities are only limited to taking more money from polluters and putting them in their pockets, without investing in greening solutions. Invoking the Law on public water supply and sewerage service, Apa-Canal Chisinau SA, submits tax invoices for payment with the application of additional fees for the companies that throw unclean water into the sewerage.
This action is "perfectly legal" only that the Inspection for the protection of the environment Chisinau must be notified, something that the Apa-Canal Chisinau administration has not done so far. The heads of Apa-Canal Chisinau preferred to "solve the problem internally", that is, to apply surcharges to the economic agents, without informing the Chisinau Inspectorate for the protection of the environment.
"I have not received any notification so far," Lilian Munteanu, head of the Chisinau Environmental Protection Inspectorate, told us. "And even if Apa-Canal receives such additional payments, it does not perform its duty and discharges these polluted waters in the Bic, a service for which it also receives money."
At the same time, many companies do not pre-purify wastewater, claiming that they pay extra for sewerage. Overpayment invoices are "thrifty" and are meant to force economic agents to set up their pre-treatment plants.
"We saw such an invoice, worth 4 million lei per month, issued for a factory in Chisinau", former secretary of state Iuliana Cantaragiu told us, pointing out that the list of such companies is very large.
We asked SA Apa-Canal to tell us what the value of overpaid invoices received for 2019 is, but we did not receive any answers.
However, similar problems may also be encountered up north.
The lack of a functional wastewater treatment plant in Soroca, Moldova, is the result of more than two decades of local political struggles, but especially of the corruption perpetuated throughout this period. The fault is divided between the management of the Municipal Council and the City Hall.
The company that manages the running water network of the city and its surroundings - “Apa Canal Soroca” JSC - is embroiled in debts and is a sinecure for those who got their hands on the local power and then exploit it in their interest.
“Apa Canal Soroca” JSC started having problems in 2007, when it took two half-million euro loans to modernize a series of water extraction wells in Egoreni village, near Soroca.
Immediately after this operation, the Communist Government of that time decided that the "Apa-Canal Company" would no longer extract its water from the Egoreni wells in which it invested, but to buy water, at almost double the price, from Aqua Nord, a bankrupt state-owned company.
“The debts remained the burden of the Apa-Canal Soroca JSC. We pay for the loans, but we do not use the wells ”, said Igor Focșa, an expert in the management of the company.
Years have passed, and the old station in Tsekinovka got increasingly decrepit, including due to theft. Other issues of a criminal nature are looming around the station, with schemes revealed by the local press.
Following years of signed denunciation statements, Soroca prosecutors recently launched four criminal cases against the former administration of the company. Law enforcement is currently investigating the fictitious employment of persons close to former management operatives as shown by the prosecutor's answer. The accusation was also confirmed by the current management of the company.
"In one case, a woman working in a hairdressing salon was shown in the documents as being employed as a guard in Tsekinovka, while having never crossed the Moldovan-Ukrainian border," Mihai Ojog, the current director of the Apa-Canal Soroca Company, told us.
Also, prosecutors are investigating the purchase of high-end mobile phones for some employees, used for personal purposes, as well as the measurement of accounting records regarding several purchases of building materials.
Last but not least, prosecutors are investigating the involvement of a court executor in perpetuating the crisis at Apa-Canal Soroca JSC. A criminal investigation was launched against judicial executor Anastasie Repesco, “on the illegal application of the seizures of the bank accounts of "Apa Canal Company", to repay the credits granted by the EBRD", the same answer of the Soroca Prosecutor's Office shows.
The current management of the company is also of the opinion that the legal executor "is milking" the institution through a series of interpretations of the law. Repesco is mandated by the state-owned enterprise "Aqua Nord" to recover an enormous debt of 24 million lei, which “Apa-Canal Soroca" JSC has accumulated since 2007 for its water supplies, distributed in Soroca's local network.
About 13 million euros of this debt has been accumulated in the last three years by the former management. "Executor Repesco Anastasie manages all the accounts of the company. Instead of collaborating with its administration on payment management, he does what he wants."
"Since 2007, the Apa-Canal JSC has been acquiring water from Aqua Nord and delivering it to consumers. Since the Egoreni wells were closed, the full payment has never been made,” Mihai Ojog says.
The management of Apa-Canal Soroca accuses the executor of tendentiously managing company accounts. "For example, if there were current amounts of 700,000 lei, instead of paying them, he would take them out of the historical debt. To these, he added a penalty and stuck us deeper in the swamp.”
"The executor received a fee of 1.4 million [about 70,000 euros] lei from us, the company", Igor Focșa member of the Apa-Canal Soroca Company management structure said.
On the other hand, Anastasie Repesco told us that he does nothing but apply the judgments of debt collection to Aqua Nord. "I got this present on my hands (Apa-Canal Soroca - n.r.). I get a commission fee, but I pay taxes. I do not hide anything, ”said Repesco. He also said that his commission amounts to 10% of the amounts recovered.
"The executor doesn't earn that much. For amounts over 300 000 lei, the commission is 20 000 plus 3%. For an amount of about 900 000, it would be about 40 000 lei. All of the controls from the Prosecutor's Office, from the NAC, did not find anything wrong with my procedures", Repesco claims.
The article was prepared as part of the investigative reporting grant funded by the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) within the Project “Giving Voice, Driving Change - from the Borderland to the Steppes.” The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
Investigations in the same category:
Information warfare in Moldova: agents and modus operandi
● The channels of the immoderate Telegram platform have become fake news labs for traditional media stations in Moldova controlled by pro-Kremlin forces ● The new composition of the Audiovisual Council does not have a coherent policy to counteract the unlicensed activity of Sputnik Moldova on the territory of three states - Moldova, Ukraine, and Romania Moldova is one of the most vulnerable states in the ex-Soviet space to Russian propaganda, a fact frequently reported in the international reports of Freedom House and other analysis centres that follow this phenomenon. Propaganda is massive in traditional media – television, newspapers and websites –
Nobody’s Romani: Life Stories from a World of Cross-Border Begging
Maria (not her real name), 27 years old, is a citizen of Moldova living in Batumi, Georgia. The young woman says she is stuck in the city on the Black Sea coast, on the border with Turkey, because she could not obtain identity documents for her nine-year-old son. “We pay a rent of 400 Lari [$150]. I’ve sold everything I had at home – my washing machine, my bed… Everything! ... I had to sell all we had to be able to buy food for my child. My fridge is empty”, she speaks about the problems she faces. The coronavirus
How much does a human life cost?
Four employees of the State Enterprise Posta Moldovei died in January 2018 in a terrible road accident in Rascani district. Everyone was working, was carrying parcels. The severe accident left four grieving families and a fatherless child under three. Investigated much late, the work accident reached the court and it was found the employer’s fault. Almost three years after the accident, in spite of an irrevocable court decision, the families of the four victims are still waiting for the state to pay them the necessary compensation. The case of the Post of Moldova is one of the few that
FRONTLINE DOCTORS: Who defends their rights
Healthcare workers were among the first to be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Exhausting shifts, extensive work, work for two, three or more colleagues who either got sick or left the system for good, always exposed to contamination, due to insecurity at work, doctors, nurses and technical staff in hospitals are resolutely dealing with the situation imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, even though the system has not always defended their rights. Official statistics report daily cases of infection among health care staff. The latest data, seven months after the pandemic, show that about 6,000 healthcare staff had Covid and
Moldova/Transnistria: Pandemic brinkmanship brings strife to ‘Security Zone’
A BIRN investigation reveals how Transnistrian emergency laws, imposed in the name of public health, ended up jeopardising the health of thousands of people, restricting their access to medicines and medical facilities. On March 17 this year, as Europe was entering lockdown, the village of Molovata Noua in eastern Moldova awoke to find its links to the world severed by mysterious armed men. They had appeared seemingly overnight, establishing a checkpoint on the only road that connected the village to nearby towns and the Moldovan capital, Chisinau. The news reached Mayor Oleg Gazea as he was overseeing preparations for the pandemic, sourcing
Life after the war: Georgia and Moldova
Georgia and Moldova both have in common hospitality, good wine and deep wounds in the history of the last quarter century of their countries. Two wars in Georgia and one in Moldova, orchestrated by the Russian Federation, have split territories, cost human lives, separated families and wounded people. After the terrible wars, self-proclaimed entities appeared: Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia and Transnistria in Moldova. All 3 separatist regions continue to be backed illegally by the Russian Federation, through propaganda and disinformation, a strong tool, powered from Moscow. A team of journalists from Georgia and Moldova tried to find
The pro-Moscow media
Favouring Russian televisions at the expense of Romanian ones has negatively influenced the domestic politics and the democratic processes in the Republic of Moldova over the years. From the 90s to the present the Moldovan authorities have shown a total openness towards the Moscow press, accepting it as a dominant investor on the Moldovan media market, thus keeping the population under the influence of policies promoted by the Russian Federation. The press sponsored by Russia, in shady ways, promotes a hostile rhetoric towards the European Union and NATO, and a truncated vision of the internal and foreign events, through
Video // Illegal business with weddings and christening parties at the museum complex Old Orhei
The territory of the Museum Complex Old Orhei, that is under the special protection of the state, and the room where the relics which were found by archeologists are exhibited, have been hosting weddings and christening parties for about 3 years. The beneficiary of this business is the deputy-director of the Complex Lilia Colta, who served as director by March 2016. On the other hand, officials from the Ministry of Culture wash their hands of this situation and say that they did not have leverage to intervene. The room that hosts the parties is in the same building and has
Kindergartens in a web of extortions and corruption
Give some money to headmistresses, some gifts to the Education Directorate, and some extra fees to caregivers. Do not worry about queues or formal procedures. A couple of thousand will make to get your kid in. Our experiment reveals routines of corruption in preschools of Chisinau, while our Ukrainian colleague’s efforts to ‘organize’ a daycare for his daughter showed a well-functioning system of extortions, far from a single-case phenomenon. Money in the envelope - If you need it really badly, I can go to talk to them myself. - To the Directorate for Education? - Yes. - How come? - Well,
How Ukrainians "force” the door to West by faking Moldovan passports
The economic crisis in Moldova and Ukraine on one hand, and the salaries offered by the European market on the other hand, are the main reasons for which people go abroad. The gate was opened to the west for Moldovans who regained Romanian citizenship and then benefited from a liberalized visa regime. However, Ukrainians use different schemes to obtain Moldovan passports that would help them to reach the EU. As long as there is a demand, there are many "offers". Some of them resort to falsification of documents from archives to certify the bessarabian origin of the applicants. Others
Cross-border mafia: the kings of acid tar
A Hungarian oligarch, Russian businessmen, and a Ukrainian deputy minister. Middle-ranking civil servants, police businessmen, and state entrepreneurs. They all took part in an elaborated and well-organized scheme of bringing hazardous waste to Ukraine. Prehistory Documents in our possession show that two Ukrainian companies, Spetsservis (Special Service), a state enterprise of the Ministry of Interior, and NPP Osma Oil, limited liability company, imported over 23,000 tons of tars and maleic anhydride sludge from Hungary in 2001 to 2003. Three foreign companies served as guarantors and suppliers: Geohidroterv Kft, Metratek Kft and Roscop Inc. These firms concluded deals on organizing reception and disposal
Bait in the legal profession. How the guild was fooled
Around 300 lawyers were tricked by some individuals who, pretending to represent a law firm, promised to include them in the so-called the honorary book of lawyers, in exchange for several thousand lei each. Next to the former and current management of the Lawyers Union, controversial individuals made it into the album as well, which displeased the guild. The case made it to the law enforcement's attention. While the author of the scheme is wanted by the police, the Union's management denies any involvement. The honorary book of lawyers, printed in July 2015, contains the names of 300 defenders from
“Hooliganism” – the cudgel in prosecutors’ hands or how to prove you haven’t been “extremely naughty”
A remaining gap in legislation is used by law enforcement as a cudgel against inconvenient people, but also as an instrument of pressure on suspects. It’s about the fact that Article 287 of the Criminal Code and Article 354 of the Code of Administrative Offences provide Criminalties for hooliganism, but the cases where you apply one or the other are not clearly established. The case of recently convicted actor, Sergiu Voloc, has brought the issue again to public attention. Paragraph 1 of Article 287 of the Criminal Code defines hooliganism as “deliberate actions that grossly violate public order, accompanied by
The stories from www.anticoruptie.md may be used in the limit of up to 1,000 characters. Web pages must indicate the source and link directly to the article. Print media, Radio and TV stations must indicate the source. Publishing full version of stories is allowed based on a prior agreement with the Center for Investigative Journalism. Articles published on www.anticoruptie.md are protected by the Law on copyright and related rights of Republic of Moldova.