How Andronachi’s “rescuers” (don’t) explain their decision to become guarantors. Abbot of the Căpriana monastery: “What’s your problem? Why are you making a big deal out of it?”
Vladimir Andronachi, who is the subject of three criminal cases, has been released from house arrest after a decision by Judge Gheorghe Balan of the Chisinau Buiucani Court rejected the request to extend the preventive measure “house arrest”, replacing it with the preventive measure “personal guarantee”. Four people – two mayors, a former high school principal and an archimandrite – deposited 22 thousand lei to “guarantee” that Andronachi would not flee the country and commit new crimes.
In a press briefing, Veronica Dragalin, head of the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office, stressed that the four guarantors had deposited a total of 22 thousand lei in the court account. At the same time, in a press release, the PA announced that the court’s conclusion cannot be challenged.
Archimandrite Filaret: “I could have given 20 letters of guarantee”
Among the “guarantors” of Andronachi’s release from house arrest was the abbot of the “Assumption of the Mother of God” Monastery in the village of Căpriana, district of Strășeni – Archimandrite Filaret Cuzmin.
In an attempt to talk to Archimandrite Filaret, I went to the monastery. We didn’t manage to see him, instead we talked to him on the phone. But the abbot did not tell us exactly why he became the “guarantor” of Andronachi’s release or what his relationship is with this controversial businessman.
Reporter: I would like to know, how did you become a guarantor for Vladimir Andronachi’s release from house arrest?
Archimandrite Filaret: Very simply, through his lawyers. But I have known him for years.
Reporter: Do you have a close relationship with him?
Archimandrite Filaret: I find it hard to understand when you ask me about a close relationship between two men. What do you have in mind?
Reporter: So you are friends, you are relatives, what are you? Why did you become guarantors?
Archimandrite Filaret: That I wanted to be a guarantor, what is your problem?
Reporter: I understand, but you put five thousand lei into the court account.
Archimandrite Filaret: Seven, not five. Reporter: Where did you get this money?
Archimandrite Filaret: From my pocket. Reporter: Do you have a salary?
Archimandrite Filaret: Yes, I have a salary. I was before the prosecutors, and you are not a prosecutor.
Reporter: His name appears in three files. I’d like to know if you think it’s fair to defend a man who has been implicated in bank fraud.
Archimandrite Filaret: Accused is one thing, proving guilt is another. If you listened to Mrs Dragalin yesterday, then you saw very clearly that she says she has claims to the judge’s decision, but according to the law, she can do nothing. That is the law. So why are you looking for answers other than what the law says? And she as a prosecutor, what she is at the Anti-Corruption, very clearly said: “Yes, we are not satisfied with the ruling that is, but the law does not allow us to do otherwise than what has been done. What more do you want? I could have given 20 letters of guarantee there to put, but if the law didn’t allow the judge to do it, he wouldn’t do it… Why are you making a big deal out of it?
Reporter: I just wanted to…
Archimandrite Filaret: I wish you a good day and good health.
What do the representatives of the Metropolitanate say?
We tried to find out what the Metropolitan’s representatives think about Archimandrite Filaret’s involvement in the release from house arrest of a controversial politician and businessman. Bishop Ioan Moșneguțu, the spokesman of the Moldovan Metropolitanate, told us that he does not know the subject and reserves the right not to express his opinion. However, the bishop told us that it is not for a churchman to get involved in the act of justice and politics.
“In general, church leaders should not get involved in politics or support anyone in particular. When we talk about the act of justice, there are competent people to carry it out, but this role does not belong to a church. I do not know the circumstances that led Archimandrite Filaret to get involved in this case and I cannot comment on them”, said Bishop Ioan Moșneguțu.
Nicolae Beju: “Someone had to be the guarantor. Couldn’t any man have five thousand lei in his house?”
Nicolae Beju, mayor of Zîrnești commune, Cahul district, also “guaranteed” Andronachi’s release from house arrest. Beju was the candidate of the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova in the 2015 local elections in Zîrnești commune, but did not become mayor. Two years later, in the 19 November 2017 repeat elections, he ran for the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM) and won the mayoral mandate. In 2019, Nicolae Beju became mayor of Zîrnești in the first round, with the support of more than 70% of voters. Contacted by ZdG, Ion Sula, president of the European Social Democratic Party of Moldova, the successor of the Democratic Party, told us that Ivanov is no longer a member of this party.
“We know each other. Possibly, he has closer people, I’m not close, but someone had to be the guarantor”, argues Nicolae Beju. Asked if the money he deposited in the court account belonged to him, the mayor of Zîrnești answered with a rhetorical question: “Who doesn’t have five thousand lei in his house?”. Asked why he had guaranteed for Andronachi, Beju said: “Why did I become a guarantor? That’s what I wanted to do. How can any man not have five thousand lei in his house to give him as guarantor?”
Vadim Ivanov: “I will reserve the right to refrain from answering your questions.”
Vadim Ivanov, another guarantor of Andronachi’s release from house arrest, was the PDM candidate in the 2015 local elections, winning the mandate of mayor of the commune of Găvănoasa, Cahul district, with almost 70% of the votes in the second round. In 2019, Ivanov won again, but this time he became mayor in the first round as the candidate of the same party. Currently, however, Beju is no longer a member of the European Social Democratic Party of Moldova, which succeeded the PDM.
We tried to speak to Ivanov by phone on Saturday, but he did not answer. We insisted with the calls two days later, and after each call, Ivanov sent us a different text, the message being the same – to write him the reason why we were calling. Accordingly, we sent him the questions in writing.
“Unfortunately, I will reserve the right to refrain from answering your questions, as other fellow journalists have already decided for me many answers. Have a nice evening,” Ivanov wrote to us a few minutes later.
Earlier, TV8, quoting the mayor, said that he had become a guarantor for Andronachi’s release from house arrest because the latter had helped him solve a personal problem. In a message sent to ZdG, Ivanov denied that he had spoken to TV8 journalists.
Ala Gaidar was a former high school principal and party member
Ala Gaidar is another person who became a guarantor for Vladimir Andronachi’s release. From the information available in the public space, we learned that Gaidar, now retired, worked as the principal of the “Mihai Eminescu” Theoretical High School in Cahul for over ten years, being a philologist by profession.
She was a candidate on the PDM list for the 2010 parliamentary elections, with the number 77. Moreover, Gaidar has held the position of chairwoman of the Cahul Women’s Organization of the Democratic Party.
Previously, the press wrote about Ala Gaidar that, as headmistress of the “Mihai Eminescu” High School in Cahul, she facilitated the obtaining of public procurement contracts by PDM party members.
In 2018, Monica Babuc – Minister of Education in Pavel Filip’s Government, awarded Alei Gaidar the Government Diploma of the Second Degree for “substantial contribution to the development of the young generation in the spirit of national and universal values, consistency in promoting and implementing educational policies, responsibility and professionalism”.
Two years later, by Decree of President Igor Dodon of September 30, 2020, Gaidar was awarded another distinction – the “Glory of Labour” order, for “long and prodigious work in the field of education, substantial contribution to the improvement of the instructional-educational process and merits in educating the young generation in the spirit of general-human values”.
Ala Gaidar avoided answering ZdG’s questions on the grounds that she was in hospital. Although I sent her several questions in a message, I did not receive a reply.
Gheorghe Balan: “I changed the preventive measure into a personal guarantee, so as not to find myself in the situation where Andronachi remains without any preventive measure”
Gheorghe Balan, the judge who ordered Andronachi’s release from house arrest and changed the measure to “personal guarantee”, told us that the reason for this decision was to avoid the risk of Andronachi remaining without any preventive measure.
“We have not yet started the judicial research, we are only at the early stage, in the preparatory part of the judicial session. I have changed the preventive measure into a personal guarantee, so as not to find myself in a situation where Andronachi is left without any preventive measure. On 2 November, practically the day after I had left on leave, Andronachi would have had any preventive measure expire, and this is not my fault, the law says that you cannot extend a preventive measure for more than one year. I gave up my leave. And then the prosecutors came up with the idea of extension, and the others came to the meeting with the guarantor. I didn’t pick them up from the street, two mayors came, one in his second term, another in his fourth, the abbot of the Căpriana monastery came, a lady who worked as a teacher for 45 years came – people came, as prescribed by law, trustworthy. According to the law, the personal guarantee removes any risk, and of all the risks invoked, there was only the danger of the crime,” says Judge Balan.
In a press release issued by Vladimir Andronachi, he says he will appear before law enforcement bodies and the court “whenever” he is summoned. “I have received support from trustworthy people who, in turn, trust me and have guaranteed by their own reputation that I, Vladimir Andronachi, will not flee the country and that I will obey public order and, at the same time, I will approach the judicial process with maximum procedural diligence and responsibility (…),” says Andronachi. He is a defendant in three criminal cases: “Metalferos”, “Consulate of Moldova in Odessa” and “Bank fraud”.