Category Archives: English

Vogue.com : Why Moldova Is a Wine Destination Worth Knowing Now

Wedged between Romania and Ukraine, tiny Moldova is one of the world’s least-visited nations, but that’s quickly changing, fueled by wine tourism. Wine is the lifeblood of Moldova; grapes a beloved crop that have grown on family farms for centuries. In 1918 Moldova united with Romania; by 1940 it was absorbed by the Soviet Union. The country with the most agricultural land dedicated to vineyards anywhere in the world began pumping out bulk wine for the USSR’s masses, supplying nearly 70 percent of its needs. Shifts toward quality slowly began to take shape after the fall of Communism in 1991, but there were crippling obstacles: Russia’s wine embargoes in 2006 and 2013. For those producers with quality top of mind, attention turned to the robust EU market instead, and by 2017, over 80 percent of Moldovan wine was exported to those countries, helping raise its international profile. All those decades that Moldova devoted to mass-produced wine was never publicly acknowledged, simply relegated to “made in the USSR” status.

Moldova is the home of Old Orhei, a historical and archaeological complex that many deem the country’s spiritual home, complete with a cave monastery and simply adorned cottages that are a picturesque time warp. There is also Emil Racovita in the northern part of the country, one of the world’s biggest caves. These are reasons to visit, surely, but so are the staggering wineries. Upon arriving in Chișinău, the best bet is to plan an excursion with the savvy agency Winetours Moldova, which can even organize stays in rural guest houses. Knowledgeable, English-speaking guides will whisk the curious to the French chateau-style Purcari, the oldest winery in Moldova, or the fascinating underground cellars of Mileștii Mici. Its network of cool haunted mansion-like tunnels, the vastest in the world, has galleries filled with more than 1.5 million bottles, some dating back to 1968. Another subterranean marvel is Cricova. Known for its sparkling wine, it’s like an ornate, underground city where one roams through winding corridors of stained glass and marble.

Old Orhei, a historical archaeological complex along the Răut River | Photo: Getty Images

Jamestown Fundation | Eurasia Daily Monitor : Is Moldova Moving Toward Russia Ahead of Parliamentary Elections?

The standoff between Moldova’s ruling Democratic Party and the country’s pro-European opposition escalated following the cancelation of a democratic election for Chisinau mayor, won by the opposition, earlier this summer (see EDM, June 27). On the dawn of Moldovan Independence Day, on August 27, after an all-night peaceful sit-in around the national monument to the country’s medieval ruler Stephen the Great, the two opposition leaders Maia Sandu and Andrei Nastase, along with several dozen pro-democracy activists (including this author), were forcefully removed by riot police at 6 a.m. The square was cleared to make room for the official flower-laying ceremony to be attended by the leadership of the country (Facebook.com/rferl, August, 27).

This marked a departure from the non-use of government force against peaceful opposition. Until then, the head of the ruling Democratic Party, oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, employed proxies to break up opposition rallies. Groups of men in civilian clothing, many of them athletes, would be sent in to intimidate and derail opposition events around the country, similar to the tactics once used by the ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych (Tv8.md, July 29). Plahotniuc also utilizes other political parties to try to sabotage opposition rallies. The party of millionaire Ilan Shor, convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in the infamous billion-dollar bank fraud (see EDM, April 10), is most instrumental in staging counter-rallies against the pro-European opposition (Infotag.md, August 26). As Shor awaits the Appellate Court decision, he remains at the mercy of Plahotniuc, known to have significant influence over the justice system (see EDM, January 12, 2016).

Ilan Shor and Vladimir Plahotniuc both share an unlikely partner in the far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPO). An FPO member of the European Parliament, Barbara Kappel, attended the counter-rally staged by Shor against the pro-European opposition forces led by Sandu and Nastase on August 26, in Chisinau. Earlier, Kappel lobbied her fellow members of the European Parliament to meet Moldova’s Prime Minister Pavel Filip and Parliament Speaker Andrian Candu in Strasbourg, on July 2, following large opposition protests in Chisinau against the canceled mayoral election results (Tv8.md, August 31, 2018). The Austrian Freedom Party recently made international news, as the wedding of the Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Meilinger-Kneissl, nominated by the FPO, was attended by Vladimir Putin. Russia is known to have propped-up right-wing parties in Europe and now appears to be using them to indirectly advance its interests in post-Soviet countries. Another Kremlin-friendly European official, Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, urged the European Union to disburse a suspended aid package to Moldova, adding that the EU’s criticism of Moldova, following the canceled election, was not warranted (Reuters, August 28). This echoed the Moldovan government’s position, calling Brussels’ decision to suspend funds “incorrect,” “politicized,” “abusive” and “an interference into Moldovan internal affairs” (Gov.md, July 7).

 

ABS-CNN.com, June 2017: Ilan Shor, moldovan businessman sentenced for role in $1 billion bank fraud. August 2018, Moldovan people are still waiting for Shor to start serving time in prison

CHISINAU – A Moldovan court sentenced businessman Ilan Shor to seven and a half years in prison on Wednesday for his role in a $1 billion banking scandal that nearly bankrupted the tiny former Soviet republic two years ago.

Known locally as the „theft of the century”, the scheme saw the equivalent of an eighth of Moldova’s gross domestic product disappear from three of its largest banks, including Banca de Economii, between 2012-2014.

An investigation into the banking fraud has identified around 40 people who either benefited from the scheme or facilitated it, but most of them have yet to be publicly named.

Shor, who was a senior executive at Banca de Economii at the time, was found guilty of causing financial damage of 5.2 billion lei ($1.26 billion) linked to the scandal. He denies any wrongdoing.

„Shor has never accepted and will not accept the ruling of the court – he gave a full confession,” Shor’s lawyer Denis Ulanov said after the sentencing.”He named everyone who stole money from the bank, he named everyone who received money in the form of loans from the banks,” Ulanov said, adding that his client would appeal against the verdict.

Another businessman and a former prime minister of Moldova have also been jailed in connection with the scam, in which money was siphoned overseas through dodgy loans, asset swaps and shareholder deals. The scandal triggered street protests and the International Monetary Fund and the European Union froze aid. Moldova’s leu currency plunged to record lows and inflation climbed into double digits.

more at :  news.abs-cbn.com, Jun 2017

 

Jurnal.md : „Boyars of impoverished Moldova”: Shor spent 150.000 dollars for a luxury holiday in the Maldives

Out of the billion stolen from the Moldovan banking system, 150,000 dollars went to the Maldives. Ilan Shor sent this sum to a beautiful island in the Indian Ocean where he flew after the theft was completed. Probably tired of work he has done, he went on a vacation with his family and friends. Among them – the wife of a former dignitary from Vladimir Putin’s team.

In November 2014, a few days before the „theft of the billion” operation was completed, one of Ilan Shor’s companies involved in the robbery scheme made two 150-thousand-dollar transfers to the accounts of an impetuous resort station on an island in the Maldives archipelago. In less than two months, at the beginning of 2015, the bankrupt banker’s family was flying for a dream holiday. Photos of that trip were posted on social networks by the wife of the convicted in the bank fraud case, Sara Shor, the Russian singer named on scenes as Jasmin.

The resort where the family was staying is considered one of the most expensive in the world and offers the most spectacular villas. Huge pools, outdoor areas, direct access to the private beach – a total isolation in a paradise. „Imagine the white sandy beaches and the turquoise waters, stretching as far as you can see – and that’s just the beginning!” – so the resort chosen by Shor is luring the rich clients. Far from the realities of Moldova. For example, one of the exclusive services that can be enjoyed today by the guests of this resort is the underwater trip with a three-seat submarine.

From the photos posted by Shor’s wife on the internet, it appears that the family opted in January 2015 for this variant of accommodation in the luxurious resort. A two-bedroom villa on the oceanfront with a large swimming pool and private beach exit.

(foto : arhiva, Jasmin şi Ilan Shor pe o plajă din Maldive, instagram.com/jasminshor)

The Guardian : EU to Moldova: sort out corruption or €100m funds will stay blocked

Moldovan government still failing to meet EU conditions on voting system and crackdown on corruption, says EU.

Moldova has been warned that €100m (£87m) of EU funds will remain blocked until the government rethinks a law on the voting system and cracks down on rampant corruption.

Siegfried Mureşan, vice-chair of the European parliament’s budget committee, said Moldova’s EU funds would remain frozen because the government had failed to meet conditions on respect for the democratic process.

“We are ready to make the money available,” Mureşan told the Guardian. “This is the right thing to do for a country in the immediate neighbourhood of the EU to contribute to increasing stability, both economically and security wise. But we said subject to conditions.”

The EU has pencilled in €60m in loans and €40m grants in 2017-18 to help the former Soviet republic stabilise its economy and carry out reforms.

The funds were frozen last year, after Moldova’s government pushed ahead with a new electoral law, despite warnings from the Venice commission, experts who advise the Council of Europe on law and democracy.

Moldova’s electoral law could mean local politicians end up in the pockets of well-resourced businesspeople. In a report published last month, the Venice commission reiterated previous warnings that the law risked “undue influence and manipulation” of the political process by businesspeople pursuing their own interests.

“The European commission said ‘please apply all recommendations of the Venice commission from A-Z’,” Mureşan said. “And that is what they have not done so far and that is what we expect them to do as a precondition for disbursing the macro-financial assistance.”