NGO funding, between hammer and anvil

At the beginning of November, the first parliamentary inquiry was held to elucidate the circumstances of the Open Dialog Foundation's involvement in the Republic of Moldova's internal policy. The Commission found that the first information received was one or more NGOs that carried out activities that could not be in line with native legislation and could be an interference with the domestic policy of the Republic of Moldova. At the same time, the committee claims that NGO activity contains elements that refer to the illegal funding of political organizations and politicians. The purpose of the Commission is to establish whether there are links between some NGOs and certain electoral candidates by limiting the activity of electoral subjects or even excluding them from the electoral race, the political expert Ion Tăbârţă finds in the "15 minutes of economic realism" show.

The context in which this committee appeared to elucidate the "Open Dialogue" case concerns the sensitive issues that exist in the Republic of Moldova. These are the funding of political parties and the way NGOs work and their relationship with state authorities. The mass media campaign launched by media close to the government insisted that Andrei Năstase, the leader of PPDA and Maia Sandu, PAS leader, attended a conference sponsored by this organization. At the same time, Kozlovska defended the rights of Veaceslav Platon after his extradition to the Republic of Moldova. It was said that this foundation would have been funded by some oligarchs in the former Soviet space and even had links to Russian secret services. Of course, there is no detail, that the actions of that foundation, with the participation of the politicians concerned and representatives of civil society, relate to the organization of a conference in the European Parliament. Moreover, this parliamentary commission was created following the campaign to come up with certain findings regarding the interference of foreign NGOs in the domestic political life of the Republic of Moldova. At the suggestion of the opposition parties that the work of this commission was linked to the subject of the financing of the parties in the Republic of Moldova, a refusal from the government was received.

"By addressing the subject of political party funding, then it was not solved either. Starting with 2015, financing from the state budget was introduced. It was thought that this would solve the problem, but it did not happen. Several studies and reports by civil society show that there are problems with ceilings and sources of funding for political parties. A recent study by Promo-LEX has found several issues: the CEC selectively treats political parties, unreported expenses, the functioning of foundations outside political parties. These are the PDM, the PSRM and the "Shor" Party that do not report all their expenses, in particular, those related to the work of foundations working alongside those political parties. The work of these foundations is an indirect way to promote certain actions of a political nature but not included in party reports. Promo-LEX also admits a possible simulation of contributions and donations in reports made by the ruling party, and true donors are not being reported. The rapporteurs estimate that the transition to the mixed electoral system, the current problems in the financing of political parties will persist in an even deeper form in the electoral campaign, "says Ion Tăbârţă.

In addition to the subject of political parties' funding, NGOs work. Referring to the communiqué of the Parliamentary Commission on NGOs engaging in the political life of the Republic of Moldova, we remember the year 2016 when the initiative to amend the law on civil society activity took place. Then a working group was set up, which for one year came with proposals, and the project was also expertized by foreign experts. But the Ministry of Justice, the one who supported the draft law, came up with last resorts, referring to the possible external interference of certain civil society organizations in the political life of the Republic of Moldova. By introducing these amendments, the draft law was distorted and a legislative framework restricting the work of NGOs was drawn up in comparison with the law that existed until then. It specifically referred to certain civil society organizations that were tangential to their political public affairs. These NGOs were to be more closely scrutinized, with the possibility of stopping the external financing of their work. Through this, the government has tried to restrict the activity of certain organizations that are not loyal to the government. Finally, the Ministry of Justice gave back, and fate