How much does a human life cost?
After Filip’s government reform
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 has reached the court in recent years and ended with a decision. Most fatal work accidents are not investigated, and in the absence of specialized findings, the fault falls to the deceased, who can no longer defend himself. The reform of the control bodies, initiated by the former cabinet of ministers, headed by Pavel Filip, and presented as a great success, was actually a fiasco and destroyed the labor inspection system.
The case of "Posta Moldovei" and the long path to justice
The families of the four men, employees of the Rascani office of the State Enterprise Posta Moldovei, who died in the road accident that happened in January 2018, near Mihailenii Vechi village, Rascani district have been several time to public institutions within a year, in order to get the investigation of the work accident and the determination of the guilty. Under the law, the work accident must be investigated within 30 days. The State Labor Inspectorate was not empowered then to investigate work accidents, and the agency that was to take over the responsibilities related to occupational safety did not yet have employees. All these were part of the reform of the control bodies initiated by Filip Government. Relatives of the four employees of the “Posta Moldovei” wrote to everyone: to the head of state, the Government, the State Labor Inspectorate, but the replies of these institutions did not change the situation. "We didn't even know where to go. There was not a labor inspector here in the district when the accident happened. We were told everywhere: "There is no law", "We have no powers", says Ivan Andrusceac, Andrei Andrusceac's father, who was 34 years old when he died. Anghelina Maximciuc was widowed with a child under 3. After her husband's death, she got a job, because otherwise she would have nothing to raise her child. So far, the child, who is already 6 years old, has not received anything from what is due to him: “I would like at least the child to be helped somehow, because he lost his earner. But the case lasts and we don't know what we will do next ".
In the absence of any reactions and actions from the state authorities, the Maximciuc, Andrușceac and Ignatiuc families had to hire a lawyer to help them . It was not at all easy for the defender Dumitru Codreanu to face the extremely bureaucratized system. Due to the reform, no state institution investigated accidents at work, and in the absence of a finding of accidents at work, it was not possible to calculate objectively the damage, the benefits for the family and for children of the deceased in the work accident. The defender could not at least get information and documents from state institutions. For example, the National Social Insurance House refused, under the pretext of personal data protection, to provide information about the remuneration of workers who died in the accident. The authority replied to the lawyer that only the data subjects had the right to request and get that information. But the people targeted were the deceased employees (!).
Posta Moldovei must pay 5 million lei to the families of the victims of the work accident
Although the expert examinations and the case investigation by the labor inspectors were delayed, in the end it was fully ascertained the employer's fault for the work accident. The technical expertise established that the car was old, worn and equipped with summer tires in winter, due to which it derailed on the road covered with ice and crashed into a truck. The Chisinau District Court based in Centru, established on August 15, 2019, that the interim director of the Post Office in Rascani, Svetlana Balschivschi, was not trained in employment regarding the mandatory rules for ensuring workplace health and safety. The postal center did not have a doctor to perform the medical examination of the drivers of the means of transport before and after the trips and no person ensured the daily control over the technical condition of the transport units. "In fact, the institution saved on this and did not hire the necessary staff", says the lawyer Dumitru Codreanu.
Report made by labor inspectors in the case of accident involving the four employees of the Posta Moldovei who died:
Throughout the trial, the representatives of the State Enterprise Posta Moldovei challenged the findings of the labor inspectors and insisted that no conclusive evidence was presented to directly show the employer's guilt in causing the accident. The representatives of Posta Moldovei tried to blame the dead driver for the accident.
The decision of the court of first instance, which was completely upheld by the Court of Appeal and then by the Supreme Court of Justice, provides that Posta Moldovei must pay Maximciuc's parents and wife the sum of 1,587,442.08 (one million five hundred and eighty-seven thousand four hundred and forty-two) lei as one off allowance for the earner’s death and to his child - the amount of 1 435.80 (one thousand four hundred and thirty-five) lei, as damage for the loss of the earner, to be paid monthly, starting with January 26, 2018 and until the boy reaches adulthood. Andrei Ignatiuc's parents must receive the amount of 1,364,865.84 (one million three hundred and sixty-four thousand eight hundred and sixty-five) lei as a one-off allowance, and Andrusceac's parents - the amount of 1,611,879.36 (a million six hundred eleven thousand eight hundred seventy-nine). Also, the Posta Moldovei must pay in the form of moral damage to the three families amounts between 200 and 400 thousand lei, 100 thousand lei for each person.
At the end of November 2020, the Supreme Court of Justice ruled in the case of the accident in which the four employees of State Enterprise Posta Moldovei died. The company had not enforced the court's decision before the investigation was published.
Fatal accident on site: the victim found guilty
Another work accident that caused the death of an employee in May 2018 is not completed yet. Nicolae Ciobanu worked as a carpenter on a construction site in Chisinau, on 99 Decebal Street. On the day of the accident, he installed sheathing with other co-workers. At one-point Nicolae dropped the sheathing he was cleaning, causing him to lose his balance and fall into the void from a height of 9 meters. The man was 33 years old and left two minor children, the youngest child under two. The carpenter was not equipped with a safety belt, and the construction lacked a railing, mandatory for any construction site higher than 1.5 meters.
The man was transported to the hospital, where he underwent surgery, but he died 13 days later, while in coma. The site belongs to Impex Businesscom Company.
The accident at work was not reported to the authorities and, respectively, an investigation of the case in terms of work accident was not started, which is a serious violation of the law, provided by article 553 par. (3) of the Contravention Code.
Half a year later, Inga Ciobanu, the wife of the deceased man, filed a complaint with the State Labor Inspectorate, which replied that this case was within the competence of another structure. From the Police, where the case was registered after being notified by the doctors from the Emergency Hospital, she was informed that the materials were sent to the Prosecutor's Office. "I made several complaints, to the prosecutor's office, but I did not get any information about the case. Initially, the case was managed by Mariana Chiorpec from the Chisinau Prosecutor's Office. I asked to see the materials in the file, but she did not give me a copy of the forensic examination. She said that she was not entitled ", Inga Ciobanu complained to us.
The woman is having a hard time with the two small children. In order to get some money, she started working during the day as a cleaning lady in a few places, then she had to go to her parents, in Nisporeni district. After her husband's death, she could no longer live in Chisinau. At the insistence of some acquaintances, she turned to a lawyer, who insisted on the repeated notification of the Labor Inspectorate. Only after the second notification, filed on February 4, 2019, the labor inspectors started investigating the case. The inspectors issued the reports no. ISM-2019-PVA-09 on March 14, 2019, almost a year after the work accident.
Labor inspectors have established that the fault belongs to both the employee and the employer. The report, for example, mentions that the victim did not want to wear protective equipment and did not install the protective railing. Inga Ciobanu says something completely different: “The construction company did not give him equipment. He was supposed to be tied with a rope, but where would he get it from if they didn't give it to him? They didn't even give him a helmet. Not to mention overalls and special shoes. That day, Nicolae was wearing boots. Maybe if he had special shoes, then he wouldn't feel so much pain to feel dizzy”. Nicolae’s monthly salary was 8-9 thousand lei. But when she requested data on her husband's salary, the woman found that the salary documents indicated a salary of only 3,400 lei. "I also notified the State Fiscal Service to investigate the evasions made by SRL Impex Businesscom as it pays envelopes wages, but through the reply of 17.02.2020, the Tax Office refused the investigation amid lack of evidence. Well, if I had had evidence, I wouldn't have gone to them, but I would have gone directly to the police ", Inga Ciobanu tells us.
Report issued by labor inspectors in the event of a work accident:
Under the law, the employer must provide workers with protective equipment and to ensure labor protection rules. "Failure to comply with occupational safety rules has led to the death of a person and this case must be investigated from a criminal point of view. Moreover, the company, if found guilty, will pay a monthly pension to the minor children until they reach the age of majority ", says Dorin Botnarenco, Inga Ciobanu's lawyer. The lawyer states that the company's representatives would do their best not to pay the compensation due in the event of a work accident resulting in the death of the employee. "I think they put pressure on labor inspectors to partially establish the fault of the employee, although it was obvious that the company did not provide protection measures. This way the company will pay the indemnities and the damage in half. In this case, the amounts must be large, because there are two minors who lack an earner. The criminal case is dragging on to the prosecutor's office, several prosecutors have already changed. Now the process is suspended, because the technical expertise was required. Moreover, the company challenged the reports by labor inspectors. Although we have no decision of guilt, we have started a civil lawsuit, in order to get at least the allowanced for the children left without an earner. But things almost don't move. It is outrageous what is happening in this case ", says the lawyer Dorin Botnarenco.
Inga Ciobanu has so far filed dozens of complaints with several state structures, including the General Prosecutor's Office. The latest complaint is addressed directly to the general prosecutor, Alexandru Stoianoglo, in which the widow of the man who died on the construction site begs him to investigate the work accident according to the laws and to restore the rights of children orphaned by their father. The woman believes the company would be protected by an MP. The details are contained in the letter to Alexandru Stoianoglo.
"My boy died and no one is to blame"
In the case of another young man who died at work, the blame fell on the dead who cannot defend himself. Alexandru Morari from village Telița, Anenii-Noi, was only 21 years old when he was hired immediately after military service by the SRL Energotel Grup as an auxiliary worker. On July 22, 2019, the young man was electrocuted at work place, while he was dismantling electricity poles. A year after the accident, the young man's family continues to seek justice.
The case was investigated by the Agency for Technical Supervision, which found that the culprit of the young man's death was the head of the employing company SRL Energotel Grup and the driver of the crane truck. During the execution of the works, the crane touched the high voltage wires, produced an electric field that led to the electric shock of the worker. A criminal case was filed against the two.
Report in case of work accident:
The agency found the employer Victor Chirica guilty of the young man's death, who admitted the execution of the loading-unloading works of the pillars without the written consent of the owner of the electrical networks and did not inform the worker about possible risks and did not take protective measures.
The second culprit established following the report is the driver of the crane truck who, before starting work, admitted the approach of the crane arm to an inadmissible distance from the overhead electrical conductors, as a result of which Alexandru was fatally electrocuted.
SRL Energotel Grup challenged in court the trail issued by the labor inspectors within the Agency for Technical Supervision. SRL Energotel Grup also requests that all expenses incurred by the court in connection with the examination of the case be covered by the Agency.
The criminal case order stipulates that the expert from the Technical Supervision Agency should have done a more extensive expertise or experiment to establish the circumstances of the accident.
"Experiments require costs, but the Agency and the authorities directly responsible for investigating accidents have not set aside additional funds. The law states exactly that all the expenses related to establishing the circumstances of the work accident are borne by the employer. The agency does not have the leverage to force the employer to do this if the employer does not want to carry out an experiment voluntarily. Moreover, the prosecutor's office has the power and the necessary funds to initiate these expertise", said Natalia Onici from the Technical Supervision Agency.
Shortly after the accident, two young men who worked with Alexandru and were among the few witnesses to the accident were fired, even though they had employment contracts.
Claudia Morari, the mother of the deceased young man, claims that the two young people who worked with Alexandru were intimidated by the company's representatives and that they did not tell the truth about how the accident happened. This summer, the young man's parents found out that the criminal case was closed in February. "We were told by the company that they will pay us 2 million lei (non-pecuniary damage and one-off compensation). They even gave us a letter of intent that the company "expresses its positive intention to conclude a reconciliation transaction with family members." It was only in July that we were informed that the criminal case had been closed, and we were not notified, so we did not have the opportunity to challenge this decision. The prosecutor's office said that our son is guilty for electrocution, a fact that recklessly caused his death ", Claudia Morari tells us with a sigh.
The Anenii Noi prosecutor's office rejected the complaint of the boy's mother's regarding the filing of the criminal case. The ordinance from July 21, 2020 writes that Alexandru Morari was electrocuted "recklessly", because he violated the security equipment.
The tragedy of the Morari family shook the whole locality. "It was a tragedy for the whole village", says the mayor of Telița village, Rodica Rusu. The Morari family is a respectful one, and Alexandru was a good young man and very hardworking”. The mayor's office believes that the work accident was concealed under the pressure of the management of SRL Energotel Grup. "The leader of the company behaved naughtily in relation to the Morari family. It would have been good for the accident to be investigated correctly, and for the prosecutors to have their say in this case, but not to close the case. It is an injustice in relation to the family that lost their only son ", says Rodica Rusu.
The lawyer from Energotel Grup, Andrei Ursache refused to speak about the case, he said it is an administrative trial pending.
The young man's mother remembers that, on the evening of the day when the accident happened, the head of SRL Energotel Grup, Victor Chirica came to her house and apologized that Alexandru had died.
"Then we went to the company to calculate our one-off allowance, and Chirica said that he does not sign any paper. Then for a while he didn't answer the phone, or he said that he was in Romania. We decided to go to court because he ignored us and he did not want to pay money. At the court hearing in the administrative case, we were informed that the criminal case was closed. I wonder why we weren't notified? Why is no one to blame for my son's death and things were turned upside down to blame my son that he got electrocuted ", said Alexandru's mother.
Contacted by CIJM reporters, Victor Chirica confirmed that he was on the phone, but after the reporter told him that he was going to discuss the work accident from summer 2019, he hung up.
Deceived and forced to return the money for healthcare services
The case of Mihail Foca from Grigoresti village, Sangerei district, is about how the victims of work accidents are manipulated by those who should be responsible for the accidents that happened because of their fault. The accident happened in 2016. Mihail worked as a tractor driver at the company Burcovschi Grup SRL together with his father and brother. That day, the company's director asked them to move some reinforced concrete slabs, each weighed more than a ton. His father was behind the wheel of the tractor, and he and his brother were helping to load the concrete slabs. The concrete slabs were wider than the tractor blade they were loading and at one point one of them slipped over Mihail, who, following the accident, was taken at the hospital with several injuries. He's been to hospitals ever since. He had 4 surgeries. Now the 28-year-old is moving quite hard, with the help of two sticks, and has a first-degree disability. He has to stay home because he can't work anymore.
After the accident, Mihai was hospitalized for over a month. During this time, no one reported the case to the Labor Inspectorate, to be investigated as a work accident. The young man says that at first, the director of the company he worked for, helped him and paid for medical services. "While I was in the hospital, Burcovschi came to my brother and my father and asked them to assume the guilt. He promised to help us with treatment. He gave money to pay at the hospital ", says Mihail.
After he was discharged from the hospital, Mihail Foca assumed the guilt for the accident, as the director of the company would have suggested. The young man says that he was called to the police station where he was asked if he believes that his father, who was driving the tractor, is guilty of the accident. They did not speak about the employer. After the case was closed, Mihai's family found out that he had to return to the former employer an amount of 100 thousand lei, which he would have spent for medicines and surgeries necessary for the injured young man. "When I was in the hospital, Victor Burcovschi brought my father a receipt showing that he lent him the amount of 100,000 lei. My father didn't read what was written there, there were other problems ... I was still in hospital and my father signed. After he signed that I pleaded guilty of causing the accident, Burcovschi calls my father and tells him that he owes him 100,000 lei. When I heard it, I asked him about the debt. Victor Burcovschi told me that I pleaded guilty and he cannot give me this money ", says Mihail Foca.
No salary for a year
The boy's father says that he worked for Burcovschi for a year, without a salary, to return the money he owed. And his brother was not paid 20,000 lei, which allegedly supplemented the amount due. Four years after the accident, Mihail needs rehabilitation, but he has nowhere to get money from and he does not dare to ask for help from his family, which has been deprived of many resources. "After I saw what Burcovschi did, I realized that I was wrong, we trusted him, but he only profited. Then I realized that I had to go further, that was in 2017. I talked to the lawyer and started a lawsuit against the company where I got injured, but the case is not investigated ", Mihail tells us.
Victor Burcovschi, the founder and director of Burcovschi Grup SRL, was called and he confirmed that Mihail Foca worked for his company till summer 2016. He rejected other questions. We called again and he replied irritated: “Madam, I can tell you that there is a trial on this case until the judge's decision, I cannot tell you anything at all. I'm sorry, goodbye. "
What does the State Labor Inspectorate say?
There are three types of work accidents: with temporary incapacity for work when the employee may be absent for up to 24 hours from work, serious accident - incapacity of work and fatal employee. "Whether or not the employee has an employment contract, the employer is liable for the work accident. Moreover, if the accident happened on the territory of the company, the responsibility for the employee's travel and the expenses that may arise are at the employer's expense ", says Victor Turcan, Head of the Control Monitoring Department in the field of work relations, safety and health and the investigation of work accidents, within the State Labor Inspectorate.
"As a rule, both sides plead guilty"
Workplace safety means investing by employers. However, they are concerned about income, and the lives and security of employees remain secondary. Usually, both parties plead guilty in these situations. Part of the blame lies with the employee for not insisting on being offered protective equipment at workplace, and on the other hand, employers are focused on business and income, and human life and health is not a priority. "Most employers who paid considerable sums of 2 million lei for non-compliance with work safety and employee protection became responsible after that and take concrete measures. Of course, there are also irresponsible employers, who have not changed their attitude towards work safety", said Alexandru Ghetu, head of the Department of Labor Relations and Social Partnership, Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection.
Filip's reform and ping-pong with workplace safety responsibilities
The reform of the state control system regarding occupational health and safety initiated in 2016 by Filip Government within the strategy of efficiency and optimization of the executive subdivisions was not efficient. The authorities played ping-pong with the competencies regarding the investigation of work accidents, which were taken over in April 2017 from the State Labor Inspectorate (ISM), with the launch of the moratorium on controls at enterprises. "The inspectorate had competences regarding the labor relations, the observance of the legislation regarding the salary, the conclusion of the employment contract, the working time, the rest time. As of April 28, 2017, ISM has not had the opportunity to start inspections in order to prevent work accidents. At that time, other authorities were not empowered with such powers ", says the chief inspector of state, Dumitru Stavila.
Only in October 2017, the competencies on safety at workplace are assumed by 10 specialized government agencies. It's just that these new structures weren't formed yet. They start operating only in the spring of next year, in 2018. But even then, the new structures had not completed their staff units responsible for safety and health at workplace.
Consequently, for a year, not a state structure investigated the work accidents. This, in the event that a work accident is investigated within 30 days of its occurrence.
Even when the specialized agencies started operating, the situation regarding the investigation of work accidents did not improve.
ISM had to transfer to the new structures 36 salary units, ie 36 labor inspectors. Actually, there were only 28 inspectors. Only 18 employees agreed to start the new jobs. 10 inspectors decided to leave the system, either they were already at retirement age or they had found other jobs.
The situation worsened along the way. Some agencies still have no responsibility for occupational health and safety. For example, the Naval Agency has not submitted any report to the State Labor Inspectorate in the last four years, although it is required by law to do so.
The government gives with one hand and takes with the other
Before and during the reform initiated by the Government, there were several contradictions related to the labor protection system. For instance, there are 26 directives related to occupational safety and health in the Association Agreement between the Republic of Moldova and the European Union. The authorities are committed to ensuring the integrity of the Labor Inspectorate and strengthening it, but actually they are destroying it. The International Labor Organization, which has repeatedly criticized the reform initiated by the Filip government, said that similar experiences were not reported in other countries. The government also earmarks important funds to provide labor inspectors with computers, new cars, arranged workplace, and in just one year, all these will remain unused.
"This reform involved the liquidation of the inspectorate, the function of controlling labor relations was assumed by the Fiscal Service. When architects of the reform realized that the commitments to the EU – Moldova’s 42 conventions signed with ILO, which we must put into practice - decided to create a national body in charge of occupational safety and health, but we do not have the right to monitor the agencies, they do not obey us. They just have to report to us and we have to accept it. Agencies are subordinated to different structures or are independent. They exercise control over certain types of activity. But companies have several types of activity - and when accidents occur, their managers do not know where to report them ", says Dumitru Stavila. Even if the accidents are reported to them, the officials from the agencies arrive late on the spot, especially if they happen in other regions, where there are not any territorial offices, as they previously existed at ISM.
"The notion of reform implies a process of change for the better that responds to the challenges and demands in the field of work safety and health. But the Government's reform has worsened the situation in the field of work safety and health, the constitutional rights of employees to fair working conditions, to defend the life, health, physical and mental integrity of workers have been compromised. The number of work accidents increased in 2019 and in 2020. The occupational safety and health requirements have a preventive character, these aim to prevent work accidents”, says Elena Carchilan, head of the Labor Inspectorate within the Trade Unions.
Consequences of non-investigation of work accidents
In the absence of a confirmation of work accident, the persons who have lost their work capacity or the descendants of the deceased cannot benefit from due allowances. Lawyer Dumitru Codreanu, who defends the interests of the victims of work accidents, says that the situation created by the authorities seriously affects the rights of injured employees, because they are left without the indemnities due to them: a disability pension, the injured person also needs the indemnities for the loss of work capacity, which cannot be established without the finding of the work accident. If we talk about crippled people – for reduced work capacity, respectively how much was reduced from work capacity - lost income. For example, if he was previously 100% healthy, ie 100% of his work capacity, he lost his work capacity by 50 percent as a result of the work accident, he must receive a life allowance of 50 percent from the income he had, that is, if he received a salary of five thousand, then after the work accident is confirmed, he must receive 2500 lei per month, all his life”.
The non-investigation of work accidents caused risks of injury for other employees as well, as the causes that led to the injury are not established and eliminated, says the Chief State Inspector of Labor, Dumitru Stavila: “The causes and circumstances of the work accident must be determined by the competent bodies and must be objectively investigated. But, you realize, if work accidents are not investigated for a long time, we can no longer talk about objectivity in establishing the causes and circumstances. It is a problem for employees, their rights are violated, they recover their health for a longer period, but they cannot receive the allowances they deserve, according to the law. It is also important for the employer to objectively establish the causes and circumstances of the accident in order to prevent and to eliminate the risks of other work accidents”.
The law stipulates that the injured party, therefore, the family of the deceased, is entitled to a one-off allowance, according to the Law on Work Safety and Health, which is equal to the average annual salary of the injured, calculated from the last 24 months, multiplied by who did not live to be 62 years old. This allowance is paid by the company where the accident occurred. The Occupational Health and Safety Act also provides for pensions for children who have lost their earner in work accidents. These will be granted monthly from the Social Insurance Fund until the age of 18, and in the case of those who continue their studies - until the age of 23.
As of 2020, 292 cases of workers' injuries have been reported to the State Labor Inspectorate, as a result of which 302 people have suffered. 54 people died in work accidents. The inspectors with control attributions in occupational safety investigated: 23 fatal accidents, out of which 13 - work and 10 - out of work, as well as 33 serious accidents, out of which 30 - work and 3 - out of work.
The company's commissions investigated 194 cases of injuries with temporary incapacity for work, as a result of which 195 people suffered.
As of November 30, 42 accidents from 2020 and 7 from 2019 were being investigated, of which 28 fatalities from 2020 and 5 from 2019 and, respectively, 14 serious work accidents from 2020 and 2 from 2019.
Re-distribution of competencies
On 19 November, Parliament voted the Labor Inspectorate to assume supervisory responsibilities in the field of work safety, health and employment, thus ensuring its functional integrity in accordance with the Convention on Labor Inspection in Industry and Trade and the Convention on Labor Inspection. in agriculture, ratified by the Republic of Moldova. "The changes aim to ensure the functionality of the control system in the field of occupational safety and health and to unblock the situation of conflict of competence between the 10 competent authorities in the field of occupational safety when conducting state control and investigation of accidents," says Elena Carchilan. She appreciates that the deputies took into account the proposals of the trade unionists, when they adopted the law.
The Labor Code will be supplemented with the rule that will empower the ISM to control the field of occupational safety and health, and the amendments to the Contravention Code attribute to ISM the competence to confirm contraventions in work safety and health.
I asked Dumitru Stavila what is next, after ISM assumed former responsibilities. The process will not be easy, says Dumitru Stavila: “Now we should take over 36 salary units. We have sent inspectors but the staff responsible for occupational safety have higher positions - heads of department, head of directorate, safety and health services, and salaries are higher. The authorities will have to dismiss them and pay them compensation. More expenses. Some of them will not come back. We will have to hire new people, but a specialist in the field of occupational safety is trained in time, this requires investments. We will need resources for it ", says the head of ISM.
This investigation was carried out under the project of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Moldova "Promotion of social reforms and employee rights in the Republic of Moldova: journalistic investigations".
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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
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
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
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
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
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