Vladimir Plahotniuc (born 1 January 1966), commonly known as Vlad Plahotniuc, is a Moldovan politician, businessman, philanthropist and oligarch. He is the current chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova and previously was member of the Parliament of Moldova in two terms (December 2010 – October 2013, December 2014 – July 2015), and served as First Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Moldova (December 2010 – February 2013). He is considered to be the most powerful man in Moldova in matter of influence, controlling Moldova’s government, parliamentary majority, and other institutions in the country's governmental and judiciary branches. He is one of the wealthiest people in Moldova, if not the wealthiest one.
Plahotniuc was born in Pitușca, Călărași District. As he stated in an interview, a strong footprint in his education was left by his parents and grandparents. He attended the Grozești village secondary school, in Nisporeni District. In 1983 he graduated this institution with a Cum Laude diploma. In 1991 he graduated the Technical University of Moldova with a bachelor's degree in Engineering, at the Food Industry Technology Department.
In 2002 he obtained an MBA degree at the same university. In 2006 he obtained a master's degree in Civil Law at the European Studies University of Moldova.
During 1991-1993, he held the position of specialist at the "Minor" Center for prevention and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders, affiliated with the Chișinău City Hall. He held the position of economist at "Euro EstHundel" Ltd Moldova, then he worked at "Voyage" Ltd Moldova. In 1995-1998 he founded "Angels" Moldovan-American Financial Group, which he managed until 2001. From 2001 to 2010 he held the position of Commercial Manager and afterwards he was the General Manager of "Petrom Moldova" JSC, dealing with oil import and distribution. Starting in 2005 he was appointed as the Vice Chairman of the Board at "Victoriabank " commercial bank, one of the leading banks of Moldova and in 2006 he became its Chairman, a position held until January 2011. Since then, he has been focusing on his political career, as a member of the Democratic Party of Moldova. In 2015, he officially founded a large media company, including General Media Group and Radio Media Group
On the evening of 19 November 2010, during the meeting of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Party of Moldova, it has been decided to include Vladimir Plahotniuc on the 2nd spot on their electoral party list. As result, he delegated the administration of his businesses to his managers in order to be able to dedicate himself to politics. He became member of the Parliament in December 2010, position held until October 2013, when he resigned. On 30 December 2010, during the Democratic Party National Political Council session, Vladimir Plahotniuc was appointed as the Deputy Chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova. On the same day he was elected as the First Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova. He was also elected as member of the Commission of Economy, Budget and Finance within the Parliament of Moldova. On 19 May 2011, by Presidential decree, Marian Lupu founded the National Council for the Judiciary Reform which included Vladimir Plahotniuc as Vice Chairman.
In June 2012, Plahotniuc became First Deputy Chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova. In December 2014, Plahotniuc was elected again as member of Parliament, and in July 2015 he resigned again from this position, "in order to focus his political activity on reforming the party", as he stated.
Plahotniuc was proposed for the post of Prime Minister of Moldova by the Democratic Party, but his candidacy was rejected by the Moldovan President, Nicolae Timofti, January 13, 2016. Timofti, in an official statement, noted that "Plahotniuc fails to meet the criteria of a candidate for the post of prime minister." He further specified that among the conditions for prime minister, the candidates "integrity should not cause doubt."
On 24 December 2016, during the 8th Democratic Party Congress, Plahotniuc was elected as the Chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova. On March 6, 2017, Plahotniuc announced that his party would propose a new electoral system for the Parliament- the uninominal voting system. Two months later, on 10 May, he announced party’s position to completely support the Government in its reform of the central administration. In a press briefing, stated only nine ministries will remain out of the existing sixteen.
In March 2017 Vlad Plahotniuc was elected as deputy president of the Socialist International at the XXVth congress of the organization, taking place from 2 to 4 March in Cartagena, Columbia. Thus he joined the leadership of the Socialist International, chaired by George Papandreou, the President of the Socialist International and Luis Ayala, the Secretary General of the Socialist International, who were also reelected for the next four years.
In July 2017 at the Congress of Socialist International, in his speech Plahotniuc demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops from eastern Moldova.
As First Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, Vladimir Plahotniuc had a number of working visits abroad.
Vladimir Plahotniuc is a member of the Interparliamentary Assembly of CIS member states; Parliamentary Friendship Group with Switzerland, Hellenic Republic and Hungary.
As First Deputy Chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova, which is a member of The Party of European Socialists (PES) and of the worldwide organisation of social democratic, socialist and labour parties - The Socialist International, Vlad Plahotniuc met on several occasions with Luis Ayala, the general secretary of Socialist International. Plahotniuc also met with leaders and PES representatives, in Brussels.
Position on foreign relations
Plahotniuc stated in an exclusive interview for Moldovan news website Deschide.md that "the Republic of Moldova will not cancel or renegotiate the Association Agreement with the EU, and will not sign an Agreement with the Euro-Asiatic Union," qualifying the statements made by Igor Dodon in Moscow as purely electioneering rhetoric. Regarding president Igor Dodon's official visit to Moscow, Plahotniuc has committed the Democratic Party to stand firmly for continuing Moldova's commitment to the European Union and maintains that the Moldova – EU relation must stay pivotal for the foreign policy.
On January 7, 2017 Plahotniuc addressed a message to the U.S. president-elect Donald Trump. The statement reflects the party leader's vision: ″Moldova is willing to become a bridge between East and West, not a battleground for the world powers″.
Vladimir Plahotniuc ran companies in the following domains: oil, financial and banking, hotel business, media and real estate.
Moldova Business People Association
Prior to his entrance into politics on behalf of the Democratic Party of Moldova, on 26 July 26, 2010, Vladimir Plahotniuc founded the Moldova Business People Association and in two months it launched its activity with an international economic summit, which had Dominique de Villepin, French politician and writer, former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the French Government, as a guest speaker of the event. The list of participants included Vladimir Plahotniuc, the Chairman of MBPA board; Andrian Candu - General Director of MBPA; Valeriu Lazar - Deputy Prime-Minister, Ministry of Economy and Commerce; Dorin Dragutanu Governor of National Bank of Moldova and many other honorable guests.
On Vladimir Plahotniuc’s initiative, the Moldova Business People Association launched a collaboration with the Academy of Sciences of Moldova, taking into account that research needs support from the business environment. On 25 October 2010, during a festive event, the Moldova Business People Association handed out diplomas to the top 100 managers from Moldova.
Vladimir Plahotniuc is also known as the founder of The Foundation of Vlad Plahotniuc "EDELWEISS", which is involved in implementing various social projects in Moldova.
Founded in 2010, the foundation implemented many cultural projects, book donations, music concerts and artistic events, supported Moldovan sportsmen, provided financial support for people in need of medical care, Thus, flood victims of the summer 2010 Prut River overflowing received financial aid and goods. People in need from all around the country benefited from the same type of assistance and support. Edelweiss refurbished the dormitory building of the "Gracious Joseph" Orphanage and donated them various gifts.
In 2014, Edelweiss started a national scale social campaign, called "Revive Moldova".Initiated to support and encourage mothers of newborn babies by offering bespoke presents, including childcare and other important things that mothers may need. The campaign was launched in July 2016 at the Mother and Child Institute in Chisinau and extended in 2017 to three other maternities in the country: Maternity Hospital Nisporeni, Cahul and Edineț. The campaign soon reached its goal: to collect 1 million euros for the reconstruction works and modern medical equipment of the Institute of Mother and Child in Chișinău.
As well, Edelweiss have allocated a lot of resources to development of children playgrounds and invested a lot in rural localities. Under the Edelweiss Parks project, over 40 safe and modern playgrounds for children from different localities of the country were build.
In 2017, Edelweiss started the project "Respect for Seniors" in partnership with the Austrian Embassy and the “Neoumanist” Education Association. The project aims to improve the living standards of 40 elderly people in Straseni district by providing social and medical services at home.
In 2017, the Foundation initiates a project addressed to young high school students in the Republic of Moldova which has the purpose to support the enrichment of the educational environment and to encourage students who achieve good results in education by offering 100 monthly scholarships during the study year 2017-2018.
In 2016 the foundation was officially renamed to «Fundația lui Vlad Plahotniuc "EDELWEISS"» (The Foundation of Vlad Plahotniuc "EDELWEISS").
Vladimir Plahotniuc acted as the Chairman of “Victoriabank”, one of the leading banks in Moldova until January 2011. In 2004-2007 Plahotniuc was the unofficial business partner with Viorel and Victor Țopa, together with whom he gained control over bank Victoriabank and Prime TV channel. The ex-president of Victoriabank, Victor Turcan, affirms in an interview that the real crooks in VB case are Victor and Viorel Topa. He also added that those two manipulate the public opinion through false statements. On 8 march 2017 Plahotniuc published on his Facebook page the Amsterdam Court's decision where is confirmed that Topa's accusations about the "raider attack" from Victoriabank are unfounded.
According to "Antimafia Movement" leader Sergiu Mocanu declaration, Plahotniuc bought this diploma and even a criminal case was opened on this fact, but for unknown reasons was closed. Moldovan media speculated on Sergiu Mocanu's statements, a controversial businessman and politician, a former counselor with special missions for the ex-President of Moldova, communist Vladimir Voronin, and named Plahotniuc the “shadow cardinal” of the ex-communist president's family. This label was attributed due to an alleged business relationship with the former communist President. Also the media speculated that Plahotniuc supported financially the Communist Party until 2009, and then the Democratic Party since 2010.
Interpol has been monitoring Vladimir Plahotniuc since 2007, and it was reported by Forbes that Interpol believe he is loosely associated with one of Russia’s biggest mafias, the Solntsevskaya Brotherhood. Plahotniuc denies this.
In the spring of 2008, Plahotniuc was tagged "Abramovich of Moldova", and, after the resignation of Vasile Tarlev from office of Prime Minister, Plahotniuc was close to become Prime Minister of Moldova.
Plahotniuc was worth 300 million dollars as stated in the top of wealthiest people published by Ukrainian business magazine "Delo", in August 2010. Money originated from both "Victoriabank" and "Petrom Moldova" activity, where he acted as Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors. Despite the fact that his name is not mentioned in the founding documents, there is a rumor that Vlad Plahotniuc is the owner of the most luxurious hotel in Chişinău - “Nobil”. It was also said that he owns “Codru” hotel and “Asito” Insurance Company, “Drive” Night Club from Moldova. Moldova Agroindbank is the hotel's Codru present owner, and it announced that the hotel will become the bank's headquarter.
At the beginning of 2011, shortly after his election in Parliament, Romanian newspaper "Adevărul" unveiled the fact that Vlad Plahotniuc has Romanian citizenship, being registered under the name of Vlad Ulinici. He explained this fact by "wanting to protect his children against discrimination during their studies in Romania". Later on, he announced that he requested that his name be changed into Plahotniuc in his Romanian documents as well. For the use of the false identity Vlad Plahotniuc faced criminal prosecution in Romania three years after his double-Ulinici Plahotniuc identity was revealed in newspaper "Adevarul" Moldova. As results from the prosecutor's decision to dismiss the criminal case, Vlad Plahotniuc did not face criminal liability in Romania for the use of false identities just because in Republic of Moldova using a false identity is not a crime.
Plahotniuc is seen as an oligarch in Moldova, and was nicknamed "The puppeteer" (Romanian: Păpușarul), being accused for traffic of influence over all Moldovan political class. In June 2015, former Prime Minister of Moldova, Ion Sturza, stated in a TV talk-show that "[...] Republic of Moldova is a captured state, and it is controlled by Plahotniuc [...]".
In early May 2016 Plahotniuc went in an official visit at Washington, where took part at an Atlantic Council event, and also met among others the United States assistant secretary of state, Victoria Nuland at the U.S. State Department. While holding no official post in government, according to a Democratic Party press release Plahotniuc went in that visit as "Executive Coordinator of the Government Coalition Counscil”, but local medias was unaware of existence of such a function, and also some MPs from the government coalition didn't knew about it. Asked by some media institution, the U.S. Ambassador in Moldova James Pettit confirmed that Plahotniuc formally was part of delegation, but no more details knows about the Plahotniuc's exact role.
In the context of 2015–16 protests in Moldova, Global Business Center, seat of Plahotniuc's firms was picketed by public street protesters. In January 2016, after Plahotniuc was nominated by parliamentary majority for the position of prime minister, the proposal was immediately rejected by President Nicolae Timofti, invoking integrity reasons. Two rallies took place in Chișinău, one that supports Vlad Plahotniuc for the position of prime minister and another that opposes the nomination. Next day, protests continued, with tens of thousands of people demonstrating in central Chișinău against Plahotniuc.
On 7 April 2017, the head of the Ukrainian Police, Serhiy Knyazev, together with the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Arsen Avakov, announced about the attempted murder of the politician Vlad Plahotniuc. Authorities detained eight people in Moldova and nine in Ukraine. The Ukrainians also found links between the assassins from Ukraine with the special forces of the Russian Federation. On 8 April, according to a press release of State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, the attempted murder was coordinated by prople from the Russian intelligence services. The same day, in a common press statement of Moldovan police and prosecutors, it was stated that the crime was commanded by two citizens of Moldova, one of them being a head of a criminal group, based in Russia. However, some political analysts stated at an opposition channel Jurnal TV, that these events are part of a hybrid war. Major political opponents of Plahotniuc, including Maia Sandu, Andrei Năstase and Renato Usatîi, received skeptically the news about the attempted murder of Plahotniuc. Usatîi, and also, Bogdan Țîrdea, an Moldovan socialist MP, considered too big the number of 17 men who allegedly planned the assassination. On 27 April 2017, Moldovan prosecutors stated in a press conference, that the interlope Grigore Caramalac (also Karamalak; alias "Bulgaru") is one of the persons who ordered the murder of Plahotniuc. The second individual would be a detainee in a Moldovan prison.
As of 2017, Plahotniuc is known for his control over the Government, judiciary branch, prosecution system and the anti-corruption bodies through the Democratic Party, "vassal-parties" and particular persons in the top of management of Moldovan institutions, despite the fact he personally holds no governmental position.
Vlad Plahotniuc is married to Oxana (neé Childescu) with whom he has two sons, Timofei and Inochentie. His wife, Oxana, is the daughter of the Moldovan painter and sculptor Emil Childescu.
On July 24, Vlad Plahotniuc was awarded by the President of the Republic of Moldova, Nicolae Timofti with the highest distinction in Moldova Order of the Republic "for major contributions to attaining foreign policy goals set by the Moldovan government – political association and economic integration with European Union".