Petrenko denounces ‘illegal, shameful’ ruling against Moldovan political prisoners

Petrenko: A dictatorship has been established in Moldova

So declared political prisoner Grigory Petrenko on Friday, February 26, after the Riscani Sector Court in Chisinau dismissed as unfounded the request of European guarantors who, being present in the courtroom, demanded the release of the Petrenko Group. Moreover, the court extended the house arrest of all the political prisoners for another 30 days.

‘Stop illegal arrests!’ Grigory Petrenko and other Red Bloc political prisoners
outside Riscani Court in Chisinau, Moldova, Feb. 26.
Photos: Ritka Sorokin
“It’s an illegal, shameful decision and a stain on the entire justice system. They showed that they take orders for their decision. Since January, when European officials, representatives of PACE and MPs of the European Parliament, gave a personal guarantee to the court, the judges stated they had no objections to the guarantors, to their reputation. However, they rejected them on the grounds that they were not present in person at the hearing. And now European officials have personally came to the hearing, but still their representations and guarantees have been rejected,” said Grigory Petrenko.

“This is a wake-up call for all of society that a dictatorial regime has been established in the Republic of Moldova, headed by oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, who thinks that he can do whatever he wants. But he will not succeed, we will continue to struggle. Unfortunately, we remain under house arrest. The regime fears those who protest, fears that it will meet the fate of other dictatorial regimes throughout the history,” added the politician.

He stated that the court’s decision will be appealed to the Appeals Chamber.

The Riscani Sector Court on Friday, February 26, rejected the personal guarantee of Members of European Parliament and PACE Helmut Scholz, Andrej Hunko and George Lukaydisa, who arrived in Moldova to demand from the court the unconditional release of the Petrenko Group political prisoners.

Magistrates dismissed as unreasonable demands for the release of all political prisoners of the Petrenko Group despite the guarantee personally presented by representatives of the European Parliament and Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

At the same time, the court granted the prosecutors’ request to extend their house arrest for 30 days.

Recall that several members and activists of the opposition party Red Bloc headed by former deputy and an honorary member of PACE Grigory Petrenko have been under arrest since September 6, 2015, following a peaceful protest in front of the General Prosecutor’s Office against the oligarchic regime.

On February 22 — after almost 6 months in detention in jail — the political prisoners, led by former deputy Grigory Petrenko, were transferred to house arrest. The decision was taken by the Riscani Court upon a request filed by the parliamentary faction of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM).

It should be noted that the hearing was convened urgently, without the presence of the political prisoners’ official attorneys, and was held behind closed doors.

According to the lawyer of political prisoners Ana Ursachi, the judgment was unauthorized and illegal. And Grigory Petrenko said afterwards that “February 22nd was a show, directed by Plahotniuc.”

Petrenko: Gurin’s resignation comes a year late

Corneliu Gurin’s resignation from the post of Attorney General is a commendable gesture, but late. This is the opinion of the leader of opposition party Red Bloc and political prisoner Grigory Petrenko.

“I’m glad Gurin’s resignation from the post of Attorney General took place today, as the court considers the personal guarantee of European officials, demanding our release, who came personally to Moldova for this purpose,” said Grigory Petrenko on Friday, February 26, before the hearing. 

The former MP added that he was glad that “the resignation was announced today, when the court is considering the case against us, because we peacefully protested and demanded Corneliu Gurin’s resignation from the post of Attorney General after the theft of a billion from the banking system.

“Gurin was at least a year late with his resignation. I hope that he will be held accountable for his actions and omissions in the case of the theft of a billion,” said Petrenko.

Attorney General Corneliu Gurin resigned on Friday, February 26, at the plenary session of Parliament, declaring that he will cease the execution of his duties on March 1. He said that after the adoption of the new law on reform, the prosecutor’s office must “start changes from the top of the structure.”

Corneliu Gurin was appointed in 2013 following the resignation of Valeriu Zubko from the post of Attorney General as a result of the scandal that erupted after the “Pădurea Domnească” hunting incident, in which a businessman was shot. Both prosecutors and judges were involved in the hunt.


Translated by Greg Butterfield

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