On Thursday, Ghimpu and his nephew, Chisinau mayor Dorin Chirtoaca, held a press conference in which they screened a video of Chisinau's central square (PMAN - Piata Marii Adunari Nationale) taken on the night of 7/8 April 2009 (i.e. the night after the big protest against the 5 April 2009 election fraud). The video was taken from security cameras affixed to the front of the Government building which overlooks the square. One of the tracks was a static shot, while the other was directed, moving around, zooming in and out.
The video is damning. It shows Valeriu Boboc being beaten to death and loaded lifeless into the Lada Niva that subsequently dumped his body outside a hospital. It shows the then Chisinau police commissioner Iacob Gumenita savagely kicking Damien Hincu, a Paris-based student with dual nationality. It shows other bodies, seemingly lifeless, lying in the square. The publication of the video by the Liberal Party (PL) leadership has given Damien Hincu the courage to come forward and give a deposition to the prosecutors.
In a sense the video doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know - that Valeriu Boboc was killed by Police on the night of 7 April and that the Police committed awful atrocities in the week which followed. What is does do, however, is provide proof beyond reasonable doubt, and that will be priceless in bring to justice those who have up to now acted with impunity.
Perhaps more interesting, however, is the background to the release of the video, and its likely aftermath. It seems that institutions controlled by the Liberal Democrat Party (PLDM) (the internal affairs ministry, the communications service & the chairman of the parliamentary commission investigating 7/4/09, Vitalie Nagacevschi) have had the video in their possession for many months. The Prosecutor General's office (which is rumoured to be close to Marian Lupu and Communist business interests) has also been in possession of a copy for some time.
Nagachevschi has attacked the liberals' release of the video, claiming that it will compromise the course of justice and make it harder to bring charges against those involved. This seems unlikely however - the fact that the video evidence is now public does not diminish its probative power. Flight risk, you say? Here again, those who committed the crimes know who they are and could have left the country long ago had they wanted.
Ghimpu and Chirtoaca's press conference raises a number of uncomfortable questions across the political spectrum:
- It's very uncomfortable for the Communists. The fact that the crimes are now proved beyond a doubt raises the probability that senior communist figures will be connected with them.
- It's very uncomfortable for the Liberal Democrats, who appear to have concealed the video's existence for many months, without telling their alliance partners or even revealing it to non-PLDM members of the parliamentary commission. Why?
- It's very uncomfortable for the Prosecutor General (and indirectly for the Democrats), who has not made a single arrest on the basis of the evidence that has been available to them. Why not?
There's a theory (which isn't too far fetched) going around on the comments pages as follows. Europe likes the look of Filat and has decided he's a good horse to bet on. They're worried about Ghimpu's unionism, which could potentially see the creation of 4 million EU citizens overnight (remember that the EU's primary interest in Moldova is not adhesion, but stability....). Accordingly they are dealing with Filat and showering him with financial support, while shunning Ghimpu.
The theory goes on to say that the financial support for Filat is conditioned on letting the investigations into 7/4/09 die a natural death without reaching any conclusions and without anyone being convicted for wrongdoing. In part this is because of the embarrassment that the investigations are likely to cause to EU officials such as Kalman Mizsei, Benita Ferrera-Waldner and Javier Solana, none of which covered themselves with glory last April and each of which has links with the former regime.
In even larger part the EU doesn't want to upset Ivan. Russia was deeply involved in the events of last April and any thorough investigation will lead back to the Kremlin. Remember ambassador Rogozin's complaint about the Romanian flag being raised on the Moldovan parliament two hours before it actually happened? Remember the mysterious weapons shipments into Marculesti Aerodrome? Remember the eviction of Georgian election observers? Remember the orchestrated fury with which the Russian press attacked the Romanian state in the days immediately following 7/4?
It seems that the Liberals have spoiled the plan. Their political opponents are claiming that the video release is just a publicity stunt to boost their ratings. It is, but it's a lot more too. 7 April 2009 was a formative event in the life of the Moldovan state and ordinary Moldovans have the right to know what happened. The Liberal Party has made that possible and merits the political capital that they have gained as a result.
Some may say that the PL's action will anger the EU and make Moldova's EU adherence prospects dimmer. I say that an EU which believes in impunity for criminals and which kowtows to Russia isn't worth joining.