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Author`s name Ольга Савка

Election will be a challenge to Moldavian President

Moldavian President Vladimir Voronin enjoys rather low rating on account of his contradictory views of Russia and the USA

The first round of presidential election is due on April 4th in Moldavia. The election should offer a tough challenge to the incumbent President Vladimir Voronin. His foreign policy was rather hectic and inconsistent. One day he would pledge his eternal friendship to Russia, the next day he would seek U.S. protection and would call the Russian army an “occupying force.” He would accuse Romania of meddling in Moldavia's internal affairs only to compliment it on some other issue later. The rating of President Voronin decreased as a result of those controversial statements. His rating slipped even lower when newspapers published the reports about his son Oleg's alleged ties to organized crime. Oleg is reportedly trying to gain control over the most lucrative sectors of the Moldavian economy. Mr. Voronin, Jr., is said to have big ambitions that stretch from the privatization of Northern Energy System (power grid) to the grip on the port of Jurjulesti and the monopolization of  Moldovia's banking system. Those ambitious plans are hardly to become a reality without direct support by Mr. Voronin, Sr. The clan needs another term in office to get things done. Despite the use of the mighty power apparatus and numerous falsifications during last month's parliamentary election, the Communists failed to win enough seats required for reelecting Mr. Voronin for the second term. Therefore, the incumbent president is planning to simply buy a few votes from the opposition.

President Voronin apparently handpicked somebody suitable for the job among the leadership of the Democratic Moldova. Following the departure of Dmitry Diakov from the above party and the formation of his own faction in the parliament, his candidacy seems quite alluring. Needless to say, a “special method” has to be applied to make the former opposition leader accept the offer. Rumors circulating through the parliament estimate the deal might be in the neighborhood between $700,000 to $1.2 million.

There is yet another version of the story. Some sources say that Mr. Diakov simply could not refuse Mr. Voronin's offer because he had to face the consequences of a scandal involving his son-in-law, Makhmud Ahmat Hammud, the former honorary consul of Lebanon to Moldavia. In October 2001 the American and Rumanian intelligence agencies advised the Moldavian Security Service of Mr. Hammud, a Lebanese citizen living in Moldavia. He was reported to be involved in the criminal activities relating to human and drug trafficking in Moldavia. The Americans also believed he was a member of Hezbollah, a terrorist organization. Once President Voronin was made aware of the information, he promptly signed an arrest warrant for Makhmud Hammud. By a strange irony of fate, the date on the warrant coincided with the date when Mr. Hammud and Mr. Diakov's daughter were to be wedded. So Mr. Diakov got a private audience with Mr. Voronin and he reportedly fell down to his knees begging to save his family from a public disgrace. The case was eventually closed and the couple tied the knot and left the country, but in return Mr. Diakov pledged his full allegiance to President Voronin.

On the photo: Vladimir Voronin

Victor Kozhukhin

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