Legal analysis of the compliance of the so-called law on separatism with international norms and articles of the Declaration of Independence of Moldova in a conversation between Vadim Krasnoselsky and state TV channel journalist Nikita Kondratov

03/26/24 17:56

Legal analysis of the compliance of the so-called law on separatism with international norms and articles of the Declaration of Independence of Moldova in a conversation between Vadim Krasnoselsky and state TV channel journalist Nikita Kondratov

Nikita Kondratov, First Pridnestrovian TV channel:

Vadim Nikolayevich, good afternoon. We remembered last week who destroyed the Moldavian SSR in the early 90s. The same slogans are heard again now: that Pridnestrovians, everyone who does not agree with the policies of Chisinau will be deported. Another option that the Chisinau authorities offer is a prison for Pridnestrovians, that is, the law on separatism, which was adopted last year. What do you say about this?

Vadim Krasnoselsky, the PMR President:

Yes, Nikita, we proved a week ago, not told, but showed conclusively who destroyed the statehood of the Moldavian SSR. This was done by the deputies of the MSSR and Moldova in an effort to secede from the Soviet Union, and at the same time from the Moldavian SSR. I want to remind you that this is a fundamental, evidentiary point why Moldova itself left the Moldavian SSR.

I remind you that Pridnestrovie was created on September 2, 1990, after the adoption of the Declaration of Sovereignty of Moldova on June 23, 1990, and was called the PMSSR, the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. That is, their deputies declared that Moldova was leaving the Soviet Union, the Moldavian SSR, but we remained in the Soviet Union. We began to be called the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic then, when the Soviet Union disappeared. We were called the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic before that.

If the deputies of the Supreme Council of Moldova decided that the laws and Constitution of the USSR did not apply to the new subject – Moldova, then the laws and Constitution of the Soviet Union were in effect. We did not leave the Soviet Union.

Time passed by. Moldovan politicians were trying to forget, level out, and retell a story that is negative for them. Some say it was a long time ago, but this is the fundamental document of this state.

Last year, parliament took it a step further; the current party initiated the so-called law on separatism. It came into force after its signing on March 18, 2023. More than thirty years have passed. Why do Moldovan politicians and legislators suddenly need this block of laws? This is not one law, but eight articles of the Criminal Code, this is a block of articles on separatism. I'll voice it. What is criminal liability for? For the creation of an unconstitutional subject, for the creation of an illegal information structure and its functioning. The concepts of “espionage”, “conspiracy against the Republic of Moldova”, “unauthorized collection of information”, “separatism”, and other articles are changing. Although the most important question from a lawyer’s point of view is by and large the following: why was it necessary to single out such a subject as “separatism”? Separatism is not criminalized anywhere in the world. There are a lot of articles in the Criminal Code of any state under which a citizen can be prosecuted for some kind of anti-state actions. Why was separatism highlighted? What comes after this? What, by and large, does it violate?

We return to the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Moldova. Here it is – the Declaration of Independence, where everything is said. We open and read: “... confirming the equality of peoples and their right to self-determination in accordance with the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and the norms of international law...”. That is, the Declaration of Independence of Moldova confirms the right of peoples to self-determination – firstly. Secondly: The Declaration “...declares its readiness to accede to the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris for a New Europe and requests admission on equal terms to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and its mechanisms”. What can we say?

Nikita Kondratov, First Pridnestrovian TV channel:

That the Moldovan authorities did not read the Declaration of Independence.

Vadim Krasnoselsky, the PMR President:

One gets the impression that they did not read the Declaration at all and did not intend to read it, because the entire block of articles on separatism directly contradicts the Declaration of Independence, which clearly states the right of peoples to self-determination, including those living in Moldova.

Thereinafter. The Declaration of Independence makes reference to the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, and the Charter of Paris, let's touch on these documents as well. These are voluminous documents of course. I chose what concerns the topic of separatism and the right of peoples to self-determination. Please, the UN Charter, to which the Declaration refers, which is contradicted by the law on separatism. This Charter provides:

Article 1: “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples”. Do you understand? The UN Charter directly speaks of self-determination of peoples.

Article 55 states: “In order to create conditions of stability and prosperity necessary for peaceful and friendly relations between nations, based on respect for the principles of equality and self-determination of peoples...”. Let's return to the Declaration, which speaks about this, puts emphasis on this, and to the law on separatism, which completely contradicts this.

The Helsinki Final Act, which is again referred to in the Declaration of Independence. Chapter 8 “Equality and the right of peoples to control their own fate”, which states: “The participating States will respect the equality and the right of peoples to control their own fate”. That is, the people have the right to control their own destiny. “Based on the principle of equality and the right of peoples to decide their own fate, all peoples always have the right, in conditions of complete freedom, to determine, when and how they wish, their internal and external political status without outside interference and to exercise their political, economic, social and cultural development".

There are no questions, everything is written well – both in the Declaration and in the Helsinki Final Act, but very poorly – in the legislation of Moldova.

The Charter of Paris. What is expected for the new Europe? Friendly relations between participating states: “We reaffirm the equality of peoples and their right to control their own fate in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations...” Everything is clear and understandable nevertheless.

The law on separatism was taken into account not only by Pridnestrovie or residents living in Moldova. The international institute drew attention to it and they spoke out sharply against this document for the first time in an international organization probably. Moldovan politicians are modestly silent about this. Let's take this document – a commentary on the criminalization of separatism and related criminal offenses in Moldova. Adopted in Poland on December 4, 2023. These comments were contributed by Helen Duffy, Professor of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Leiden University; Alan Greene – Lecturer in Constitutional Law, Human Rights, Birmingham Law School, UK; Tamara Otiashvili – Senior Expert on Human Rights and Democratic Governance, OSCE Office. These are excerpts from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Commentary on the criminalization of the term “separatism” in Moldova, December 4, 2023, Warsaw. What's interesting here, let's read it. The document is very voluminous – 50 pages, excerpts will be of interest to us: “International law does not provide for either a definition of the term “separatism” or grounds for its criminalization or prohibition, unless means (or actions) advocating secession or autonomy or directed against territorial integrity, are not violent, undemocratic or illegal from the point of view of international law. ODIHR previously warned against viewing the concept of “separatism” as falling within the scope of criminal law.” Hereafter: “... the criminalization of so-called “separatism” raises fundamental issues of human rights... The criminal offense of “separatism” provided for by the adopted amendments risks criminalizing the simple expression of opinions or ideas, and can also be used as a pretext to suppress peaceful propaganda or views on different territorial properties, autonomy or even independence.” Here is the opinion of international human rights lawyers.

These are again excerpts. Paragraph 22: “The European Court of Human Rights has specifically recognized that advocating the secession of part of a country's territory by peaceful means is protected by the European Commission of Human Rights.” Protected by European legislation! Moreover, paragraph 24: “More generally, political speech, support or advocacy for the formation of a new state, whether deriving from the right of self-determination or not, should not be criminalized unless it crosses the line into incitement to violence or committing other criminal offences". Hereafter, paragraph 33: “The Court (note: European Court of Human Rights) emphasized that calls for autonomy or even the separation of part of a country’s territory in speeches or demonstrations cannot automatically be considered a threat to the territorial integrity or national security of the country, if they are promoted through peaceful means”.

Point 50: “An association or political party advocating the secession or autonomy of a region by democratic and peaceful means is not inconsistent with the European Commission of Human Rights... and should enjoy protection in accordance with international law”.

That is, the opinion of the Pridnestrovian people, who strive for secession, for independence, is protected by international law. We are not even talking about separation here in fact. We are different states. Moldova itself destroyed the Moldavian SSR as I said earlier and proved this. The law on separatism appeared. Question: dear gentlemen, you are going to Europe, it seems so; but how do you gather in Europe with this law, which completely contradicts your Declaration of Independence, which completely contradicts international law? How are you going to take over Moldova with this law, gentlemen Europeans, which completely contradicts the foundations of European democracy? This is a direct discreditation of European morality, European values of the right to life, to freedom, and so on. Somehow everyone is calm about this... Although it seems to me that they are not really calm.

Nikita Kondratov, First Pridnestrovian TV channel:

This law on separatism was criticized at the same time, according to observers of the negotiation process, including the EU. This is the only moment when they were of the same opinion.

Vadim Krasnoselsky, the PMR President:

That's what I was talking about. This document was criticized by Western structures, European commissions, including human rights commissions, but the question is: why did Moldova, realizing that it completely contradicts the Declaration of Independence, and all European norms, the UN Charter? And still accept it and sign it. Should there be some kind of goal? There are three directions to think about here in my opinion. Maybe these directions are the target.

The first is the 1992 war. Moldovan politicians, those who started this massacre on the Dniester, did not stand trial by and large. Maybe this law on separatism will rehabilitate them? That is, they allegedly fought against separatism. They fought for what Moldova itself actually destroyed, maybe as an option. The second direction or the second possible reason for the adoption of this law on separatism is that Moldova has long been torpedoing the high-level negotiation process. Moldovan negotiators have been blocking the “5+2” format since 2019. The law on separatism does not imply a negotiation process at all. Do you understand? They brought their own politicians, their own negotiators under the article in fact. Any negotiators who talk about certain forms of reintegration today fall under the article on separatism. I even said last time in the course of the meeting with OSCE representatives that the OSCE falls under the law on separatism. The law on separatism puts an end to the negotiation process in fact. Is this the goal? Maybe. There is one more, third task or goal (as an option) - this is the work of the so-called internal opposition. Everyone perfectly understands the troubled Gagauzia, other politicians, processions, calls, and so on. This law is aimed at the so-called discipline of internal opposition perhaps? May be, or all three maybe.

Nikita Kondratov, First Pridnestrovian TV channel:

Maybe this is another lever of pressure on the Pridnestrovians?

Vadim Krasnoselsky, the PMR President:

This goes without saying. It works like a lever. The law has never been applied to Pridnestrovians - this is true, but the fact that it is an element of blackmail is a fact. This law is like know-how in jurisprudence, you know. Nowhere in the world is separatism criminalized, but in Moldova it has appeared. They are ahead of the rest, however, in their own interests, but they modestly kept silent about the fact that this contradicts all European legislation, the UN Charter and the Declaration of Independence of Moldova.

I say again: dear Moldavian politicians, carefully read your Declaration of Independence, which has supreme legal force over the Constitution of your state. You must unconditionally fulfill it from the first letter to the last – not only in the part of the Romanian language that you did, but in general, and comply with this Declaration.

What conclusion can I draw: the power of Moldova is on its own, the laws are on their own, the people are on their own. All this is declared as a desire to join the European Union. The aspiration may be good, but Europeans need to think and still set certain tasks, give such “homework” to Moldovan legislators and politicians, so that they fulfill it and bring it to the Europeans for verification. There will be a serious conversation maybe when they receive a positive mark. As I understand it, as a person, as a lawyer, as a citizen. The choice is ultimately up to the people of Moldova in any case, but this cannot be overcome.

Nikita Kondratov, First Pridnestrovian TV channel:

The first task is to read the Declaration of Independence.

Vadim Krasnoselsky, the PMR President:

This is like the Our Father, you know. It can not be in any other way.

Peoples live. These are Pridnestrovian people, there are people living in Moldova. It is said by the way in the same comments on human rights of the OSCE commission that “... the special national and regional context should be taken into account, in which Moldova does not exercise effective control over part of its territory”. That is, you still need to be realistic and look de facto at what is happening when making decisions, what peoples live... We’ll talk about what peoples live next time.



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