CHISINAU, Moldova — Europe’s poorest country, Moldova, has one very rich problem. Everybody you talk to, from a taxi driver to the speaker of parliament to a hipster at a coffee shop, says that the government is controlled by one shadowy man, the widely, wildly hated Vlad Plahotniuc. (Nickname: Plaha — The Scaffold) He is Moldova’s Donald Trump, Chisinau’s Berlusconi—a billionaire with big appetites for power, money and women, and no sense of limits. Plahotniuc owns four national television and three radio stations, private security forces, luxurious hotels. Nobody knows exactly how much he is worth. Meanwhile, he leads the Moldovan Democratic Party, although his official status is vice chair. He likes to be able to change his frontmen. Like Trump or Berlusconi, Plahotniuc seems to have no sense of limits, or decency. One of the country’s leading television journalists (the Megyn Kelly of Moldova, one might stay) got a call warning her he was about to release a sex tape of her and her lover, filmed inside her apartment. Washington and Europe, playing at realpolitik, ignore the political realities here, making deals with Plahotniuc’s pawns in Moldova’s parliament who present themselves as pro-Europe, pro-West, and anti-Russian. The result is… Read full this story
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