Several voters from the breakaway Transnistria region admit that they received 200 Transnistrian rubles, the equivalent of about eight euros, to vote for Igor Dodon as president.
“We were the first at the polling stations and didn’t have to wait long. We voted right, as it should, for Igor Dodon. We have no complaints,” a voter from the breakaway Transnistrian region told ZdG, as we called and presented ourselves as being members of Igor Dodon’s Socialist Party.
In the beginning, no less than 31,000 people voted in the presidential election at the polling stations in the breakaway Transnistrian region, with Igor Dodon winning 85% of the vote.
However, the candidate Igor Dodon bitterly claimed “unprecedented violations” in this presidential election after he lost by a difference of over 250,000 votes.
Many voters on the left bank of the Nistru River went to the polls after registering in advance, including in the first round of the election. Dumitru Iancev, who lives in Tighina, explained that people were called and asked for their contact details, receiving instructions for time and place to be taken to polls. People living in the breakaway Transnistria region were paid about eight euros (200 Transnistrian rubles) for voting for a specific presidential candidate.
“Two hundred rubles for Transnistrians is the equivalent of 13 bottles of vodka.”
“In the morning I called, as in the first round, at the telephone number 3-50-50, the line was busy for a long time, about half an hour, but I got through. I said I was calling about the election, and she said, ‘Yeah, good.’ They didn’t write the surnames this time, only the first names. I said the name of the street and gave five random names. She put everything down, and I asked how much money they would provide. She said 200, and I wondered in what currency, lei or rubles. She said Rubles since you vote for Dodon,” says Dumitru Iancev, who used to be a judge at the Tighina and Taraclia Courts, southern Moldova.
We carried on the experiment, together with Dumitru Iancev. He called the telephone number who wanted to vote registered and presented as one who did not receive his money, although he voted. The Russian-speaking interlocutor admitted that people had to receive money to participate in the vote but said that she was not responsible for it, urging him to address those who transported him to the polls and ask for money.
Notices with messages for “peace and stability.”
On Saturday, November 14, on the eve of the second round, a resident of Căușeni district, near Tighina, Southern Moldova, sent to ZdG images showing several ads displayed at the entrance to the blocks of flats in Tighina city, stating the time and place of the meeting for voters on the next day. The notice contained a telephone number where voters could register and the message “for peace and stability” in the Russian language, which candidate Igor Dodon communicated during the election campaign.
On election day, the young man went to the indicated place on the ad. A few persons holding lists with names and phone numbers organized older people in cars and taxis and sent them to the polls. In video images taken at the meeting point, one of the organizers explains to the people how to vote. The young man approached an organizer, holding several lists with 30 names on each of them in her hand.
“I voted right, as I should, for Dodon. We have no complaints.”
ZdG managed to talk to some of the people found on those lists. We called them and said that we were from Igor Dodon’s Socialist Party. They admitted that they were transported to the polling stations, where they voted for the candidate Dodon and received the promised money.
Tatiana, from Bender city, southern Moldova, told us that she was one of the first to arrive at the polling station and that everything went well. She admits that after voting for Dodon, she received the money, as she was promised, and confirmed collaborating in the future.
ZdG: Did you go to the polls?
ZdG: We are conducting a survey to determine if everything went well, and if you would like to collaborate with us in the future.
T: Yes, everything was fine, no complaints. Everything is wonderful. We were the first ones there. We didn’t wait long. I voted right, as I should, for Dodon. We have no complaints.
ZdG: Did they pay the money? Is everything fine?
T: Yes. Shall I tell you the sum?
ZdG: Yes. We’d like to check it.
ZdG: Good. Would you like to collaborate with us in the future?
T: Yes, of course.
Another voter from the Transnistrian region claims that she voted in both rounds of the presidential election. In the second round, the woman says she went to the polls with her girls; they all voted for Dodon, and they received 200 rubles each.
ZdG: I’m calling you about the elections. You went to the polls. Was everything okay there?
L: Yes, everything was fine. I went to the polls both times. I voted for Dodon. Who voted for that witch, I wonder?
ZdG: I just wanted to know if they gave you the money and if everything went as it should.
L: Everything is fine. I am satisfied. Thank you, God bless him.
ZdG: How much did they pay?
ZdG: Did you go alone or with family members?
L: I went with my daughters. They got 200 each.
Fake videos about money and organized transport in the diaspora
On the election day, people from the breakaway Transnistria region came to the polling stations, and the press and social networks had proof images of the widespread phenomenon. Meanwhile, Telegram channels, affiliated to the Socialist Party, distributed a video in which the minibus driver turns to the Transnistrian passengers and tells them to vote, in Russian, for candidate Maia Sandu. Subsequently, the driver sends money to the passengers. “Exclusive! Video proof with money offered to the citizens of the breakaway Transnistria region for the vote for Maia Sandu!” ran the message on the Telegram that accompanied the video images. The news channels affiliated with the Socialist Party tried to induce the idea that voters on the left bank of the Nistru River were corrupt in favor of Maia Sandu. However, the results announced at the end of the day by the Central Election Commission show Igor Dodon receiving over 85 percent of votes on the left bank.
The same Telegram channel, which broadcast videos from the breakaway Transnistrian region, showed that Moldovan citizens living abroad were paid and transported to the polling stations to vote for pro-European candidate Maia Sandu. According to the authors, the images were captured in several European cities, including London (UK), Verona (Italy), or Berlin (Germany). The allegedly secretly filmed videos follow the same scenario: hidden faces, shown distributed money, and in the background voices of people are heard who virtually unquestioned declare that they voted for Maia Sandu. In a single clip, taken in London, a young man openly claimed that he was paid 50 pounds. Subsequently, the televisions affiliated with the Socialist Party broadcast the fake videos.
The video images outraged Moldovan citizens in the diaspora. On social media groups, they wrote hundreds of comments stating that the videos were fake and that no one in the diaspora would be willing to stand in line for hours for 50 euros or pounds, money that they can earn in two hours of work.
Dodon: I must defend the suffrages of those who voted for me
International observers recognized the November 15 presidential election, but incumbent President Igor Dodon accused, in his first public statement, “unprecedented violations” and vowed to contest the election results.
“Our electoral staff registered several unprecedented violations in this presidential election. It relates to blocking the right to vote for Moldovan citizens on the left bank of the Nistru River, it also relates to transporting voters in E.U. member states, and there was involvement, through statements, of various Western officials and influencing the voting results. I congratulate Ms. Maia Sandu on this preliminary result. Still, I must defend the voting of those who voted for me, through all legal means: Central Election Commission, trial, Constitutional Court,” promised Igor Dodon.
He did not refer to the fact that voters in the breakaway Transnistrian region were paid to vote for him. At the same time, in several polling stations abroad, numerous persons were not able to vote because the 5,000 available ballots were over.