How Moldova Is Slowly Freeing Itself From the Grip of Corrupt Oligarchs

How Moldova Is Slowly Freeing Itself From the Grip of Corrupt Oligarchs
Moldovan Prime Minister Ion Chicu at a meeting in Moscow, Russia, Nov. 20, 2019 (Sputnik photo by Dmitry Astakhov via AP Images).

Over the past year, Moldova has seen perhaps its most unexpected series of political developments since it first emerged as an independent state from the breakup of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. It has been a case study in how post-communist countries mired in kleptocratic corruption can break free from the grip of politically influential oligarchs and help reorient their countries on a path of transparent government and reform.

First, over the summer, the most surprising governing coalition in the country’s history took root. After a months-long political stalemate following inconclusive parliamentary elections last February, the pro-Western ACUM bloc and the pro-Russian Socialists paired up to oust the country’s most powerful political figure, shadowy oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, whose Democratic Party had led a coalition government since 2014. A self-proclaimed Westernizer, Plahotniuc was in fact more interested in transforming Moldova into a sink of post-Soviet corruption. Remarkably, the coalition between the Socialists and ACUM enjoyed the backing of both Washington and Moscow, a rarity in Eastern Europe.

But the unlikely government, led by reformist Prime Minister Maia Sandu, eventually faltered in November due to a disagreement between the two parties over the process for appointing a new prosecutor general. ACUM wanted a truly independent prosecutor, which the Socialists were unwilling to stomach. The Socialists subsequently backed a no-confidence measure against Sandu, who was replaced by Ion Chicu, a former finance minister under pro-Russian President Igor Dodon.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.