In the first round of the election campaign, the presidential candidates spent huge amounts of money donated by their supporters to promote themselves. While some candidates received funding mainly from party members who nominated them to this position, others were financially supported by the unemployed and retirees.
Thus, Renato Usatii the leader of Our Party and the mayor of Balti, the second largest city of Moldova had the most generous sponsors in this campaign compared to Dorin Chirtoacă, the Liberal Party leader, who received no donations for this year’s presidential race.
ZdG has identified among the candidates’ donors people who claim that they did not transfer any money to the budget of the electoral contestants or claim that they donated less than was reported to the Central Election Commission.
The leader of Our Party Renato Usatii collected the most generous donations – almost 443,000 euros. Unlike other candidates to the presidency, Usatîi received donations mostly from ordinary citizens such as teachers, educators, accountants, salespersons or drivers who contributed with modest amounts. Public servants, who work at the municipal enterprises in Bălți are on the donor lists as well.
443,000 euros for the election campaign of Our Party candidate
The Municipal Enterprise Balti Markets Association transferred generous sums to Renato Usatii’s account within the election campaign. The administrator of the enterprise donated 1,150 euros and the enterprise’s accountants, controllers, experts and market administrators transferred similar amounts to the electoral account of the candidate. The reports submitted to the Central Election Commission show a surprising donation of 1,170 euros made by a woman working as a street-sweeper.
Several teachers in Balti contributed about 750 euros to the candidate’s budget. For example, a high school teacher Viorica Călăraș, donated her monthly salary, which is about 500 euros. She said that she decided to donate this money for change: “I waited for changes, I was disappointed and now I count on the competitor to whom I transferred this sum. This is a quite large amount, but if you have a noble goal, you obviously have to make a sacrifice.”
“At the moment, I barely have enough money to feed my children.”
The janitor at the Municipal Palace of Culture in Bălți is another Renato Usatîi devoted supporter
Ludmila Șuiu, a mother of two, donated her monthly salary for the candidate’s election campaign. Although she lives on a salary of only 100 euros, she decided to support Usatîi, because he “did a lot”. “I wanted him to become our president because he promised to increase salaries. I thought it would be better to give 2,000 lei (100 euros) now, and then to earn more.
Several mayors from the Falesti region in the north of the country provided financial support to Renato Usatîi. Among them is Valentina Shalamai, who also donated her monthly earnings.
“I don’t think it is a large amount, because as mayor I was nominated as a member of Our Party, and they supported me when I needed it. Renato Usatîi supported our village a lot, he donated 5,000 euros to it annually, and we thought we should help him too”, said Valentina Șalamai. She later called us and outrageously demanded to explain why we addressed her these questions, specifying that she will complain to the Prosecutor’s Office.
The Shor Party candidate promoted by unemployed persons and retirees
During the election campaign, the Shor Party candidate received donations and services totaling 163,000 euros. At the beginning of the campaign, due to problems with opening a bank account for the election campaign, Violetta Ivanov received donations from her supporters in the form of goods and services worth about 60,000 euros. The majority of her supporters were employees of social shops; a project launched four years ago at the initiative of Ilan Shor, the president of the Shor Party.
After opening the electoral account, the candidate reported to the Central Election Commission for two consecutive weeks donations amounting to approximately 98,500 euros, received from about 300 people. However, the reported data analysis shows that around 220 of these donors are retirees and unemployed people. The 69 retirees and 96 unemployed donated between 100 and 1,000 euros to support Violeta Ivanov’s campaign.
“I never donated, because I don’t have money.”
Maria Cavaljiu is one of the retirees on the list of donors, but she told us that she had no idea how she got on that list: “There is no way to get such money. I receive an invalidity allowance and my son is sick at home. Where can I get 5,000 lei (250 euros)? I have 10 euros left until November 6, the day of receiving my pension. I know Violeta Ivanov and I am her supporter, but I never donated, because I don’t have money.”
Valerii Povar, another pensioner from Anenii Noi, claims to have donated only 250 euros, while the Central Election Commission reports indicate a 500 euros contribution: “I think I donated 250. I saw that she is a smart woman and she is educated, and she wants to do good for the people. I donated at Anenii-Noi, there was an announcement and I went there.”
Aurelia Balica is another senior who allegedly transferred 500 euros to Violeta Ivanov’s account. The woman initially said she had no money, but later changed her rhetoric.
R: a report at the Central Election Commission shows that you donated 500 euros.
A.B.: Oh, I forgot, that’s the age. I donated in September, or… I don’t remember when exactly.
R: Who did you donate to?
A.B .: Do I have to say? To Violeta Ivanov.
R: You have just said you’re retired and don’t have money for donations, but now you’re mentioning 500 euros.
A.B.: Right, I remembered I donated. I thought you wanted me to donate again. My children and husband contributed too. Why are you asking?
R: Why do you support Violeta Ivanov?
A.B.: How can I not support her? She has so many talents and she has a Ph.D. The Shor Party has done so much for the people, for the country: social shops, pharmacies, festivities.
The ‘independent’ candidate, supported by colleagues from the Socialist Party of Moldova
In the financial reports submitted to the Central Election Commission, Igor Dodon declared donations of roughly 108,500 euros. About 348 people financed the election campaign of the ‘independent’ candidate donating from 150 to 650 euros.
Unlike the other two competitors for the position of President of Moldova, Igor Dodon was mainly financed by party colleagues or people affiliated to the party. Although Dodon ran as an independent candidate, he received financial aid from most deputies of the parliamentary faction of the Socialist Party of Moldova, as well as from dozens of local elected officials listed on the political party or its affiliates.
Thus, 30 out of the 37 Socialist Party deputies contributed with donations ranging between 240 and 490 euros.
At the same time, the lists of donors include dozens of mayors, presidents, and vice presidents of Moldovan districts where the Socialists won the general local elections in October 2019. The list continues with a large number of current and former city councilors.
The socialists’ mobilization
The most generous candidate’s donors are Oleg Ciornîi, a current councilor in the Parliament of Moldova, and Elena Bratunova, an accountant. They both contributed to Igor Dodon’s campaign with circa 650 euros. In the parliamentary elections of February 24, 2019, Elena Bratunova ran on the list of the Socialist Party.
In the weekly reports presented to the Central Election Commission, the deputies of the Socialist Party, as well as district presidents, mayors or councilors, all donated on the same day. For example, in the second week, 16 deputies of the Socialist Party, seven councilors from the Chișinău Municipal Council, and 14 district presidents affiliated to the Socialist Party, all donated on October 6. In the third week, 28 people donated on October 15th, of which 13 were deputies of the Socialist Party and six were councilors from the Chișinău Municipal Council.
ZdG contacted Olga Rață, the treasurer of the candidate Igor Dodon and asked how she explains the mobilization of numerous people to donate exactly on the same day. She claims that it is a simple coincidence and that people “support the candidate independently and willingly.”
“It’s an election campaign, people are mobilizing. I really don’t see why you should have any questions or suspicions. They all came in one day because people always mobilize when we need resources to make payments. So, they come and donate, that’s all,” said the treasurer.
Maya Sandu’s bountiful sponsors
In the first round of the presidential elections, the candidate of the Action and Solidarity Party received donations summing to 88,600 euros from individuals and legal entities both in the country and abroad. The profile of Maia Sandu’s donors is diverse and includes employees from different fields, entrepreneurs, civil servants, including deputies and municipal councilors, as well as a large number of citizens from the diaspora. Donations for the Action and Solidarity Party candidate start from 10 lei one euro and rise up to 2000 euros.
Alexandru Machedon, founder and general manager of Internet service provider Starnet LLC, was the most generous donor of Maia Sandu in the presidential campaign, he transferred 2000 euros to the candidate’s electoral account. In previous years, Machedon was an active donor to the Political Party Dignity and Truth Platform. This is a center-right political party that strongly supports Maia Sandu.
Many employees of Fuel stations network Bemol substantially contributed to the budget of the Action and Solidarity Party candidate. Arcadie Lopotenco, executive director of Bemol, and Mariana Solomon, its financial director, transferred 1200 euros to the candidate’s account. Mariana Solomon informed us that she supported Maia Sandu as an individual and she could not comment on the donations from numerous Bemol employees.
69,000 euros for candidate Andrei Năstase
Andrei Năstase, the candidate of the Political Party Dignity and Truth Platform for the position of president, declares revenues worth about 108,300 euros, of which 69,000 are donations from individuals in the country, 5,200 from legal entities, another 3,500 are from supporters in the diaspora, and 27,600 euros are financial means from party sources.
Ninety-four persons and an economic agent supported the candidate Andrei Năstase financially. Of these, 90 are individuals from the country and 4 from abroad, the amounts varying between 25 and 1,135 euros.
Several party colleagues are on Năstase’s donor lists as well. Thus, Alexandru Slusari, the head of the Political Party Dignity and Truth Platform parliamentary faction, and the deputy Dinu Plîngău, the secretary of the faction both donated approximately 23,000 lei 1,135 euros each. Other deputies also supported their candidate by donating sums ranging between 935 and 1,090 euros.
Aliona Mandatii, together with her son’s family, is among those who made donations, transferring all together roughly 3,150 euros. Aliona Mandatii is the former vice-president of the Dignity and Truth Platform and the current councilor of the political party in the Chișinău Municipal Council. Over time, she has made significant donations to the party and in previous election campaigns as well. She claims that her donation comes from her salary or running a private company.
The donors who supported candidate Octavian Țîcu
Octavian Țîcu, the candidate of the Party of National Unity (PUN), declares revenues amounting to approximately 14,000 euros in the electoral campaign. The campaign funding reports include only 17 individuals who financially supported the candidate. Ţîcu also received sanitary products worth 50 euros, as well as transport services in the amount of 250 euros.
Party colleagues, who donated amounts ranging from 45 to 2,300 euros, were the main donors of the PUN candidate in the presidential elections. The record donated sum comes from Ion Briceac, a party colleague, who transferred 2,300 euros to the candidate’s account.
Tudor Deliu, the candidate with the smallest donations
The candidate of the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM) reported to the Central Election Commission quite modest donations in contrast to his opponents, about 8,350 euros. About 15 persons funded Tudor Deliu’s campaign and the largest donations came from party members. The party’s lawyer, Sergiu Suharenco, transferred to the candidate’s account 2,320 euros, and Anastasia Cojocari, president of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova youth organization donated 2,220 euros. The responsible for Tudor Deliu’s financial reports, Luminița Mutaf, transferred 1,870 euros to the candidate’s account.
The competitor without sponsors
Dorin Chirtoacă, who participated in the presidential campaign nominated by the Unirea Bloc, is the only candidate who did not receive any donations from individuals in this campaign. Previously, the candidate specified that he managed to open his electoral account only in the last week of the campaign.