Moldova: Opposition figures unite to defend people’s attorney Ana Ursachi

Chisinau, October 20: Renowned lawyer Anna Ursachi — defender of several opposition politicians and illegally-arrested protesters, and People’s Advocate – is facing an unprecedented attack by the regime of oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, hounded by regime-loyalist prosecutors Viorel Moraru and Nicolae Chitoroagă.

This was stated by former parliamentary deputy Alexander Petkov, who, along with eight other opposition leaders, former members of parliament, members of political parties and citizens whom Ursachi has defended, came to a press conference in support of the lawyer, against whom prosecutors have opened a criminal case.

“We believe that the attack against Ana Ursachi is organized mafia-style by Vladimir Plahotniuc through his minions, Viorel Moraru and Nicolae Chitoroagă. Such actions have nothing to do with democratic values,” said Petkov.

The former deputy noted that those present at the press conference “appeal to the representatives of the European Union, because these two men — Morar and Chitoroagă — took office with expanded powers based on the new law of the General Prosecutor’s Office, advanced with the support of the EU. We don’t think that the EU wants to be responsible for supporting this situation in the Republic of Moldova.”

“At the same time, in circumstances in which the national framework can no longer ensure the protection of human rights and the rule of law in Moldova, we urge to enter into force as soon as possible the provisions of the Association Agreement regarding the protection of these values. European capitals need to tell our authorities to comply with these obligations. We are close to our lawyer Ana Ursachi, and let those who unleashed this persecution, including the rush to judgment in the media, know that they will have to fight with each one of us,” Petkov added.

Those present were reminded that Ana Ursachi has engaged in several high-profile cases, defending illegally-detained protesters, without asking for a penny for her services, “thereby fighting the Plahotniuc regime.”

“They want to bring Ana Ursachi to her knees, but they will not succeed. Ana will not yield. And neither will we,” said Tatiana Panutsa.

Ana Ursachi

Former deputy and leader of the opposition party “Our Home is Moldova” Grigory Petrenko, whom Anna Ursachi has defended in a case which has lasted more than a year stemming from anti-oligarchy protests, stated that he “expresses solidarity with Ana Ursachi — a truly independent people’s lawyer.”

“We are gathered to support and express our solidarity with the truly independent people’s lawyer, Ana Ursachi. She is one of the few lawyers who have taken up the most high-profile political cases of recent years. There are not many such defenders of human rights in Moldova –those who are ready to take cases when the regime cracks down on the people can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

“This vile, dirty and despicable repression, which is unleashed today against our lawyer, says a lot about the regime’s concern for ‘democracy.’ When political repression begins against political opponents, it can still be attributed to some kind of transition period. But when there is repression even against lawyers who defend their clients, clients in political cases, this is a real dictatorship.

“Today we can say that the regime has crossed another red line, a point of no return for Plahotniuc and all his gang. And this is already understood by the citizens of Moldova, and certainly by our international partners,” Petrenko said.

According to him, “this campaign, these so-called tapes — all this has been done to prepare public opinion for the detention and perhaps even arrest of Ana Ursachi, to remove her from the work that she does every day.

“And she is committed to protecting us, and actually fighting this criminal, anti-people regime. This harassment unleashed against Ana Ursachi is a signal from the regime to all lawyers in the country. This is an attempt to intimidate them, it is an attempt to gag them. It is a signal that can be expressed in a few words, that if you protect someone from the opposition, you will go to jail, criminal charges will be levelled against you. You will be dragged through the mud and won’t even be able to defend yourself,” said Petrenko.

The representative of “Our Party” Nicholas Trykolych also expressed solidarity with Ana Ursachi. “I was among the first political prisoners in Moldova. After my party was excluded from the elections, I was arrested. Lawyer Ana Ursachi stood beside me those three months while I was in prison. (…) What we see today is done to intimidate other lawyers, to make them understand that they are not allowed to defend opposition politicians. I want Ana Ursachi to know that we who are here at the press conference, and many, many others who could not be here today, will fight by her side, shoulder to shoulder,” said Trykolych.

In all there were nine participants in the press conference in support of lawyer Ana Ursachi, including former deputies Alexander Petkov and Grigory Petrenko, as well as Tatiana Panutsa, Sergiu Cibotari, Nikolai Trykolych, Ruslan Sahamatov, Anatol Stepuleac and Ion Matasevich.

Earlier it was announced that prosecutor Viorel Morar and Nicolae Chitoroagă (known for their affiliation with the oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc) decided on the basis of “new circumstances” to reopen a criminal case against lawyer Ana Ursachi, known for her critical stance against the oligarchic regime of Plahotniuc.


Translated by Greg Butterfield

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