Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 212

Battling for reelection against Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli and Parliament Chairman Petru Lucinschi, an insecure President Mircea Snegur is multiplying threats to dismiss the cabinet of ministers and dissolve the parliament, by referendum if necessary. The Moldovan Constitution does not empower the president to take any of these steps, but Snegur is also campaigning to change the constitution and to establish a presidential republic.

The campaign, moreover, is climaxing with a wiretapping scandal that has been dubbed Moldova’s Watergate. Last week, employees said to be from a presidentially-controlled security service disseminated cassette recordings and transcripts of a telephone conversation between Snegur’s most powerful political lieutenant and the Moldovan ambassador to Germany. The conversation dealt with arranging media coverage of corruption accusations leveled by the ambassador against the foreign minister and the cabinet of ministers in an attempt to hurt Sangheli and his Agrarian Democratic party. The ambassador had recently issued unsubstantiated accusations to that effect from his post, and was publicly shielded by Snegur. The press reported the content of the telephone intercept, and state television aired it. The president now demands prosecution of the unidentified wiretappers and of the TV chiefs for airing the tape; the prosecutor general has launched a criminal investigation. (Basapress, Flux, Interfax, November 8 through 11)

The incident has served to draw attention to the presidentially-controlled security service, headed by the brother of Snegur’s aforementioned chief lieutenant. The service functions outside legal or financial accountability and is widely believed in Chisinau political circles to wiretap and keep tabs on the president’s political opponents.

Armenian President Inaugurated, Government Installed.