Moldova: Subservient judge forbids protest at oligarch’s home

July 19: On Tuesday, the Chisinau Court of Appeal rejected the request of Grigory Petrenko, former parliamentary deputy and leader of the opposition party Our Home is Moldova (Red Bloc), for authorization to protest in front of the house of oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc.

The politician, whom the Riscani district court banned from participating in protests, petitioned the Appeals Chamber to abolish judicial control, which involves a number of restrictions, including the right to protest and the right to leave the country, and for the right to hold a peaceful rally on Bulgarian Street soon.

The Appeals Chamber rejected both requests, retaining judicial control in respect to the members of the “Petrenko Group,” and forbidding them to protest in front of the home of oligarch Plahotniuc.

According to Ana Ursachi, attorney for the political prisoners, “Paranoia reaches a frightening scale among all the authorities when it comes to protests on Bulgarian Street, where Plahotniuc lives.”

According to Grigory Petrenko, the leader of Our Home is Moldova, “The decision was predictable — we did not expect anything else from this regime.

“When the courts prohibit protests, it’s a sign of weakness and cowardice of the system and Plahotniuc in particular. He is a coward, not a politician, and cannot compete with opponents politically. He uses only force, extortion. We have already seen a similar scene in relation to other political forces. In this case, the court tries to intimidate us and all those who protest against the criminal Plahotniuc regime.

“Today we asked that in the coming days, we be allowed to protest on Bulgarian Street to mark the anniversary of the July 2015 protests, when we pitched tents and declared Liberty Township outside Plahotniuc’s home – which was later forcibly dismantled by his gunmen. We wanted to organize a protest dedicated to Liberty Township, to show everyone that you don’t need to be afraid of Plahotniuc and his entourage. We wanted to demonstrate that we live in a society where to have your opinions heard, you need to protest.

“Last year we went to demand cancellation of ANRE [National Agency for Energy Regulation] tariffs on electricity. As you remember, in the end, ANRE froze those rates. It was the result of holding protests at the ANRE and near Plahotniuc’s home. If we want to achieve something, if we want to live better — we must protest. If we don’t protest, our rights, the rights of all of us, will be gradually eliminated,” Petrenko said.

The politician said that “Peaceful protests must continue. Maybe in another form. But we must put pressure on the government.

“We’ll find a way to show our position. We always find a way, as last year’s Liberty Township showed,” said the opposition leader.


Translated by Greg Butterfield

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