|Member of the Moldovan Parliament|
24 February 2019 – 30 July 2019
|Succeeded by||Ghenadie Verdeș|
30 November 2014 – 30 July 2015
|Succeeded by||Corneliu Padnevici|
28 November 2010 – 28 October 2013
|Succeeded by||Ion Stratulat|
|First Deputy Speaker of the Moldovan Parliament|
30 December 2010 – 15 February 2013
|President||Marian Lupu (Acting)|
|Prime Minister||Vladimir Filat|
|Preceded by||Serafim Urechean|
|Born||1 January 1966|
Pitușca, Moldovan SSR, Soviet Union
|Citizenship|| Republic of Moldova|
|Political party||Democratic Party of Moldova|
|Alma mater||Technical University of Moldova|
University of European Studies of Moldova
Vladimir Plahotniuc (born 1 January 1966), is a Moldovan politician, businessman and philanthropist. He was the chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova (24 December 2016 – 24 June 2019) and previously was member of the Parliament of Moldova in three terms (December 2010 – October 2013, December 2014 – July 2015, February 2019 – July 2019), and served as First Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Moldova (December 2010 – February 2013). Until leaving the territory of the Republic of Moldova in 2019, he was considered to be the powerhouse of Moldovan politics in matters of influence, controlling Moldova's government and parliamentary majority. Plahotniuc has been confirmed to be in the United States despite a visa ban.
Early life and education
Plahotniuc was born on 1 January 1966 in Pitușca, Călărași District, Moldavian SSR, Soviet Union (now Moldova). As he stated in an interview, a strong footprint in his education was left by his parents and grandparents. He attended the Grozești village secondary school, in Nisporeni District. In 1983 he graduated this institution with a Cum Laude diploma. In 1991 he graduated the Technical University of Moldova with a bachelor's degree in Engineering, at the Food Industry Technology Faculty. In 2002 he obtained an MBA degree at the same university. In 2006 he obtained a master's degree in Civil Law at the European Studies University of Moldova.
During 1991–1993, he held the position of specialist at the "Minor" Center for prevention and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders, affiliated with the Chișinău City Hall. He held the position of economist at Euro EstHundel Ltd Moldova, then he worked at "Voyage" Ltd Moldova. In 1995–1998 he founded "Angels" Moldovan-American Financial Group, which he managed until 2001. From 2001 to 2010 he held the position of Commercial Manager and afterwards he was the general manager of "Petrom Moldova" JSC, dealing with oil import and distribution. Starting in 2005 he was appointed Vice chairman of the board at Victoriabank commercial bank, one of the leading banks of Moldova and in 2006 he became its chairman, a position he held until January 2011. Since then, he has been focusing on his political career as a member of the Democratic Party of Moldova. In 2015, he founded a large media company, including General Media Group and Radio Media Group.
In August 2010 Plahotniuc stated: "I don't get involved in politics. I'm not interested in running on a party list." But on the evening of 19 November 2010, during the meeting of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Party of Moldova, it was decided to include Plahotniuc on the 2nd spot on its electoral party list. As result, he delegated the administration of his businesses to his managers to be able to dedicate himself to politics. He became a member of the Parliament in December 2010, a position he held until October 2013 when he resigned.
On 30 December 2010, during the Democratic Party National Political Council session, Plahotniuc was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova. On the same day he was elected as the First Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova. He was also elected as a member of the Commission of Economy, Budget and Finance within the Parliament of Moldova.
In June 2012, Plahotniuc became First Deputy Chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova.
On 15 February 2013, the parliamentary fraction of PCRM and PLDM, without the conclusion of the Parliamentary Commission "Legal Committee for appointments and immunities" of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, together voted motion of no confidence to Vladimir Plahotniuc. Following this decision, supported by the votes of 73 out of 101 deputies from the Communist Party and Liberal Democratic Party, the office of First Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Moldova was abolished and this is what determined Vladimir Plahotniuc to resign. In its turn, Vlad Plahotniuc – urged the Prime Minister Vlad Filat, who was later condemned for influence peddling and passive corruption, to follow his lead. At the end of October 2013, Vladimir Plahotniuc resigned from the MP position. The motion of no confidence was the reason given in January 2016 by the Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti, to reject the Vlad Plahotniuc candidature for the Prime Minister Position. Timofti has mentioned, "Plahotniuc is not qualified for the Prime-Minister position". He further precise that among the qualifications for that position are "the integrity of the candidate must not give rise to doubt".
Plahotniuc told reporters in 2014: "I entered politics with my business in place. I wanted to give something back, not the other way round." He is one of the wealthiest people in Moldova, if not the wealthiest one. According to his op-ed, he declares himself as a huge supporter of EU integration and strengthening the relations with the west. In December 2014, Plahotniuc was elected again as a member of Parliament, and in July 2015 he resigned again from this position "to focus his political activity on reforming the party".
On 15 October 2015, on the day Vlad Filat was detained as part of the ongoing investigation into the banking fraud scandal, Plahotniuc announced via Facebook that he had auto-suspended himself from the position of First Deputy Chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova, and also from the position of a member of this party "... to no let appear insinuations that he influences the investigation in the bank fraud case, and to not cause damage to the image of the party (PDM)".
In early May 2016 Plahotniuc, as an executive coordinator of the Governing Coalition Council, a previously unknown position, was on an official visit to Washington. He attended an event of the Atlantic Council, where he met Victoria Nuland, assistant to the US Secretary of State.
On 24 December 2016 during the 8th Democratic Party Congress, Plahotniuc was elected Chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova. On 6 March 2017, Plahotniuc announced that his party would propose a uninominal voting system. Two months later on 10 May, he announced the party's position to completely support the Government in its reform of the central administration. In a press briefing, he stated only nine ministries would remain out of the existing sixteen.
In March 2017 Plahotniuc was elected as deputy president of the Socialist International at the XXVth congress of the organization, taking place from 2 to 4 March in Cartagena, Colombia. Thus he joined the leadership of the Socialist International chaired by George Papandreou, President of the Socialist International and Luis Ayala, Secretary General of the Socialist International, who were also reelected for the next four years.
On 30 March 2017, a majority of the Moldova Parliament, led by the Democrats, voted a draft law on modifying the Constitution of Moldova on lifting the immunity of MPs, while the Socialist and Communist MPs criticized the initiative. In 2013, Plahotniuc declared, "Immunity lifting of deputies is not populism, is a test that politicians should give to the society."
In 2018, Plahotniuc urged the government to launch a campaign to promote a housing program named "Prima casă" ("First Home"), planned to ease acquirement of housing for civil servants. At the beginning of 2018, he also announced the launching of a national program "Drumuri bune pentru Moldova" ("Good Roads for Moldova"). Plahotniuc mentioned that this project is the biggest infrastructure project since the declaration of Independence, although some experts found the project to be unrealistic.
According to previous opinion polls, Plahotniuc was the most anti-rating Moldovan politician, considered by the Moldovan citizens to be a politician with less trust and an unfavorable opinion. The polls made in 2019 referring to the most respected politicians of the Republic of Moldova Vladimir Plahotniuc was ranked at the 3rd and 5th in the top of politicians in which Moldovans have the highest trust.
On the parliamentary elections on 24 February 2019 has been elected as an MP into the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova designated by the Democratic Party of Moldova in the Nisporeni uninominal constituency no.17.
On 24 June 2019 Vladimir Plahotniuc resigned from the position of the chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova.
On 30 July 2019 Vladimir Plahotniuc has renounced his MP's mandate within the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova. The Parliament has approved the decision on Vladimir Plahotniuc's resignation as MP. And the MP's mandate for the uninominal circumscription no.17, where Plahotniuc was elected, was declared vacant.
As the first deputy chairman of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, Plahotniuc represented the interests of the Republic of Moldova both during official trips and at official meetings with political leaders from other states.
Between 13 and 15 June 2011, Plahotniuc attended the 9th Conference of the presidents of the Parliaments of the Member States of the South East European Cooperation Process. The Republic of Moldova is a member of the SEECP since 2006. He was also part of CIS member countries Interparliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Friendship Group with the Swiss Confederation, the Friendship Group with the Hellenic Republic and the Friendship Group with the Hungarian Republic.
Position on foreign relations
Plahotniuc stated in an interview for the Moldovan news website Deschide.md that "the Republic of Moldova will not cancel or renegotiate the Association Agreement with the EU, and will not sign an Agreement with the Euro-Asiatic Union", qualifying the statements made by Igor Dodon in Moscow as purely electioneering rhetoric. Regarding president Igor Dodon's official visit to Moscow, Plahotniuc has committed the Democratic Party to stand firmly for continuing Moldova's commitment to the European Union and maintains that the Moldova – EU relation must stay pivotal for the foreign policy.
On 7 January 2017 Plahotniuc addressed a message to the U.S. president-elect Donald Trump; the statement reflects the party leader's vision: ″Moldova is willing to become a bridge between East and West, not a battleground for the world powers″.
As chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova, Plahotniuc has stood against the long-looming prospect of a Russian-annexed Moldova. The Democratic Party of Moldova has repeatedly reaffirmed its devotion to Western doctrines such as democracy.
During his presidency of the Democratic Party, Plahotniuc has attended many meetings with officials from the US and Europe. One of his achievements in that direction was the submission of pro-Moldovan resolutions in the House of Representatives of the US Congress by Congressmen David Price and Pete Olson after having several meetings with them. The resolution reiterated the US support for the territorial integrity of Moldova and for the resolution of the Transnistria conflict, as well as to enhance cooperation between Moldova and the US.
Position on Russian interference in Moldova
Plahotniuc has declared many times that one of his main goals is to stop Russian interference in Moldova, which had spread to all spheres of Moldovan economy such as media, banking system, insurance, NGOs and political organisations. To minimize Russian influence over the region, Plahotniuc together with the government coalition pioneered many reforms and laws such as anti-propaganda law, financial reforms based on EU directives and NGO's reform.
Russia, in response to laws that aimed to reduce its influence over the regions, started to frame Moldovan officials, including Plahotniuc with bogus legal cases, ratcheting up a long-running diplomatic row between the two countries. According to Moldovan officials, these actions were due to ongoing investigations into the case known locally as the "Russian Laundromat". Plahotniuc declared that Russia's behavior "toward my colleagues and me is an explicit act of blackmail and political harassment.. abusive and illegal behavior, which will not change our commitment to the democratic and European development of Moldova.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, on 22 February 2019, accused Vladimir Plahotniuc of money laundering. According to Plahotniuc's own political party, the Democratic Party, "This was an abusive interference from the Russian Federation side into the elections in the Republic of Moldova. And this so-called case was opened by Russians against the DP's leader, just two days before the parliamentary elections in Moldova, which is clearly an abuse from the Russian Federation side by which they try to influence the election outcomes in Moldova".
On 26 June 2019, two days after Vlad Plahotniuc's resignation from the position of the PDM chairperson, he was arraignment, in his absence, in the Russian Federation for organizing the criminal drug trafficking network in particularly large proportions in North Africa, through the European Union, to CIS countries, including the Russian Federation. The former PD leader wrote that these are some of the "threats" addressed to him and his family: "Russian Federation has several criminal cases against me, I am not aware of their exact count. I have learned about each of them from press. They would appear either in the times of elections or when the Republic of Moldova, governed by Democratic Party, made decisions that were not to Moscow's liking. All these cases are fantasies and attempts to involve my name in cases that have absolutely nothing to do with me. It is precisely for reasons of political harassment that Interpol rejected tens of Russia's attempt to limit my freedom of movement abusively."
Plahotniuc ran companies in the following domains: oil, financial and banking, hotel business, media and real estate. In August 2010, the Ukrainian business magazine "Delo" estimated Plahotniuc's wealth to 300 million dollars. Money originated from both "Victoriabank" and "Petrom Moldova" activity, where he acted as Deputy chairman of the board of directors and then general director.
Plahotniuc acted as the Chairman of Victoriabank, one of the leading banks in Moldova until January 2011. In 2004–2007 Plahotniuc was the unofficial business partner with Viorel and Victor Țopa, together with whom he gained control over bank Victoriabank and Prime TV channel. In September 2010, Victor and Viorel Țopa addressed a memorandum to a number of national and international institutions (17), accusing Plahotniuc of "raider attacks" of July–August 2011 on a number of 4 banks and ASITO assurance company. The ex-president of Victoriabank, Victor Țurcan, affirmed later in an interview that the real crooks in Victoriabank case are Victor and Viorel Țopa, and they manipulate the public opinion through false statements. Later, by one criminal file for each of Țopa was initiated, and they have fled to Germany, accusing Plahotniuc on political persecution. On 8 March 2017 Plahotniuc published on his Facebook page the Amsterdam Court's decision where is confirmed that Țopa's accusations about the "raider attack" from Victoriabank are unfounded.
Vladimir Plahotniuc has founded two companies: General Media Group Corp and Radio Media Group Inc., which incorporated four TV channels: Publika TV, Prime TV, Canal 2 and Canal 3 and 3 radio stations – Publika FM, Muz FM and Maestro FM. Then, two TV channels Canal 2 and Canal 3 owned by General Media Group Corp have passed in possession of Telestar Media. The democratic leader officially owns two TV channels Prime and Publika TV and two radio stations Muz FM and Publika FM.
Moldova Business People Association
Prior to his entrance into politics on behalf of the Democratic Party of Moldova, on 26 July 2010, Plahotniuc founded the Moldova Business People Association and he remains the Association's president and in two months it launched its activity with an international economic summit, which had Dominique de Villepin, French politician and writer, former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the French Government, as a guest speaker of the event. The list of participants included Vladimir Plahotniuc, the Chairman of MBPA board; Andrian Candu – General Director of MBPA; Valeriu Lazăr – Deputy Prime-Minister, Ministry of Economy and Commerce; Dorin Drăguțanu – Governor of National Bank of Moldova, and many other honorable guests.
On Plahotniuc's initiative, the Moldova Business People Association launched a collaboration with the Academy of Sciences of Moldova, taking into account that research needs support from the business environment. On 25 October 2010, during a festive event, the Moldova Business People Association handed out diplomas to the top 100 managers from Moldova.
Plahotniuc is founder of The Foundation of Vlad Plahotniuc "EDELWEISS", which is involved in implementing various social projects in Moldova. Founded in 2010, the foundation implemented many cultural projects, book donations, music concerts and artistic events, supported Moldovan sportsmen, provided financial support for people in need of medical care, Thus, flood victims of the summer 2010 Prut River overflowing received financial aid and goods. People in need from all around the country benefited from the same type of assistance and support. Edelweiss refurbished the dormitory building of the "Gracious Joseph" Orphanage and donated them various gifts.
In 2014, Edelweiss started a national scale social campaign called "Revive Moldova". Initiated to support and encourage mothers of newborn babies by offering bespoke presents, including childcare and other important things that mothers may need. The campaign was launched in July 2016 at the Mother and Child Institute in Chișinău and extended in 2017 to three other maternities in the country: Maternity Hospital Nisporeni, Cahul and Edineț. The campaign soon reached its goal: to collect 1 million euros for the reconstruction works and modern medical equipment of the Institute of Mother and Child in Chișinău.
Edelweiss has also allocated resources to development of children playgrounds and invested a lot in rural localities. Under the Edelweiss Parks project, over 40 safe and modern playgrounds for children from different localities of the country were built.
In 2017, Edelweiss started the project "Respect for Seniors" in partnership with the Austrian Embassy and the "Neoumanist" Education Association. The project aims to improve the living standards of 40 elderly people in Strășeni district by providing social and medical services at home.
In 2017, the Foundation initiated a project addressed to high school students in the Republic of Moldova to support the enrichment of the educational environment and to encourage students by offering 100 monthly scholarships during the study year 2017–2018.
In 2016 the foundation was officially renamed to Fundația lui Vlad Plahotniuc "EDELWEISS" (The Foundation of Vlad Plahotniuc "EDELWEISS").
The campaign "A new life" continued in 2018 at the Mother and Child Institute in Chișinău, at the maternity hospitals in Nisporeni, Cahul and Edineț and extends in the other 20 maternities in the country: Bălți, Cantemir, Călărași, Căușeni, Cimișlia, Criuleni, Ceadîr–Lunga, Drochia, Fălești, Florești, Hîncești, Ialoveni, Rezina, Rîșcani, Sîngerei, Soroca, Strășeni, Șoldănești, Ștefan Vodă, Ungheni, with over 12,400 beneficiaries of boxes for newborns.
On 7 April 2017, Serhiy Knyazev of the National Police of Ukraine and Arsen Avakov of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine announced an attempt had been made on Plahotniuc's life. Authorities detained eight people in Moldova and nine in Ukraine. The investigators found the assassins had links to Russian Federation special forces. On 8 April, according to a press release of State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, the attempted murder was coordinated by people from the Russian intelligence services. The same day, in a common press statement of Moldovan police and prosecutors, it was stated that the crime was commanded by two citizens of Moldova, one of them being a head of a criminal group, based in Russia. However, some political analysts stated at an opposition channel Jurnal TV, that these events are part of a hybrid war. On 27 April 2017, Moldovan prosecutors stated in a press conference, that the interlope Grigore Caramalac (also spelled Karamalak; alias "Bulgaru") is one of the persons who ordered the murder of Plahotniuc. The second individual would be a detainee in a Moldovan prison. Six defendants on Vladimir Plahotniuc's assassination attempt file have been convicted by the first instance.
The Gorbuntsov case and arrest in absentia
Plahotniuc has been accused by a hired assassin of being behind the order to kill German Gorbuntsov. Plahotniuc had long been suspected of being linked to the "organization of the murder attempt on banker German Gorbuntsov." The latter rejects the information issued by the murderer Vitalie Proca and claims that Renato Usatîi is the one who wants his death, and Plahotniuc would have no reason to order his assassination. Finally, Moldovan media were divided into two camps, and both camps have their own version of the case. As reaction, on 30 November 2017 a Moscow court has issued an arrest warrant for Plahotniuc, charged with attempted murder and was placed on the Russia's international wanted list of criminals. The authorities of the Russian Federation submitted a request to INTERPOL for Plahotniuc to be placed on an international search list. The request was rejected by INTERPOL on the grounds that is pursued the political interest. It justified its decision by saying that the international police organization cannot intervene in what are essentially political disputes between member states.
The century theft
In September 2016, Plahotniuc's name was circulated as being the beneficiary of the "century theft" from the Moldovan banking sector. Kroll International Company in its investigation has called Ilan Shor, the businessman with Moldova-Israeli citizenship, the key organizer and final beneficiary of this theft. The former Prime Minister, Vlad Filad, the mayor of the Orhei town, Ilan Shor, and the controversial businessman Veaceslav Platon have been convicted within this case.
The New York Times has called Plahotniuc Moldova's "Most Feared Tycoon". In the Carnegie Report, "The Structure of Corruption in Moldova," Plahotniuc is referred to as controlling Moldova's network outside of the government and that a central-bank-commissioned report detailing a suspicious transfer of around $1 billion was "seen as a move by the Plahotniuc network to disable its lone competitor, the network around former prime minister Vladimir Filat.
Despite the fact that his name is not mentioned in the founding documents, there is a rumor that Vlad Plahotniuc is the owner of the most luxurious hotel in Chișinău – "Nobil". It was also said that he owns "Codru" hotel and "Asito" Insurance Company, "Drive" Night Club from Moldova. Moldova Agroindbank is the Codru hotel's current owner, and it announced that the hotel will become the bank's headquarter.
Criticism and allegations
In June 2015, former Prime Minister of Moldova Ion Sturza, stated in a TV talk-show that "[...] Republic of Moldova is a captured state, and it is controlled by Plahotniuc [...]". In October 2015 Petru Bogatu, a Moldovan op-ed columnist, wrote hard criticism in Plahotniuc's address, stating that he [Plahotniuc] "has usurped the central country's administration", and "has subordindate to him prosecutors and judges, subjugating this way country's constitutional institutions. As a result, he transformed the state into a private firm, and the justice – into a gestapo for the intimidation and burial of his political opponents." However, these statements are no an impediment for him to be employed by the TV Prime channel that belong to Plahotniuc.
Several media sources are called him oligarch. The former Prime Minister, Vlad Filat, has called him "The puppeteer" (Romanian: Păpușarul) being accused for traffic of influence over all Moldovan political class. He constantly draws criticism from Moldovan analysts, NGOs, and columnists, such as journalist Natalia Morari, who called out Plahotniuc for being "pro-Plahotniuc and pro-corruption".
On 21 September 2017, Maia Sandu, the chairperson of the Party of Action and Solidarity, submitted to the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Moldova a criminal denunciation on Vladimir Plahotniuc, accusing him in usurpation of state power through the seizure of all state government powers through blackmail and corruption. On 11 October 2017, Mihai Ghimpu, the chairperson of the Liberal Party, has reassumed at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe some of these accusations and has complained on the fact that Plahotniuc controls the justice in Moldova and abusing this is intimidating political opponents. Ghimpu's statements come as a reaction to the arrest of Chisinau Mayor Dorin Chirtoaca (25 May 2017), to whom was incriminated an act of corruption, traffic of influence and excess of official authority in the case of Toll Parking in Chisinau, as well as the arrest of the Minister of Transport and Road Infrastructure, Iurie Chirinciuc (28 April 2017), the case regarding it contains 3 incriminations: passive corruption, abuse of official position and illegal extraction of mineral resources.
At the beginning of 2011, shortly after his election to Parliament, Romanian newspaper "Adevărul" unveiled the fact that Plahotniuc has Romanian citizenship, being registered under the name of Vlad Ulinici, and previously as Vladimir Ulinici. He explained this fact by "wanting to protect his children against discrimination during their studies in Romania". Later, he announced that he had requested that his name be changed to Plahotniuc in his Romanian documents as well. For the use of the false identity Plahotniuc faced criminal prosecution in Romania three years after his double Ulinici/Plahotniuc identity was revealed in Adevărul Moldova. The prosecutor dismissed the criminal case because in the Republic of Moldova using a false identity is not a crime.
By Decree no. 1298 of the President of the Republic of Moldova of 29 August 2007 regarding the granting of state distinctions "for the contribution to the reconstruction of the Curchi monastic complex and the merits for the preservation and propagation of the historical-cultural heritage" was awarded with the Order "Gloria Muncii".
On 24 July 2014, Vlad Plahotniuc was awarded by the President of the Republic of Moldova, Nicolae Timofti with the highest distinction in Moldova Order of the Republic "for major contributions to attaining foreign policy goals set by the Moldovan government – political association and economic integration with European Union".
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