Hello! My name is Inna Cebotari. I am a playwright and I’m interested in observing everyday life and people’s behavior. We live times when we think we are living our life in democracy and don’t get the fact, that actually we are very influenced by the economic-political system, where we have the right to go to the elections and vote, but almost all the time, we are given only two options.
The name of my presentation is Hate speech, corruption, and power abuse.
It’s six in the morning, almost boarding time. But still, there are a few passengers waiting in the line to give their luggage and to go to the next passport control. A woman on high heels, wearing a beige velvet coat, enters the small hall of the Moldavian airport. You can’t get lost in there, you can see the other end of the building, so small the airport is. She comes, pulling after her a stylish suitcase. And instead of staying in the short already created line, she goes ahead, like a winner. The couple that just stood in front remains slightly surprised. “Maybe we are invisible,” he said. The lady seems not to notice us. She answered shortly, keeping on her face the attitude of a winner “I don’t have time to wait. I never wait.”
At the next passport control checkpoint, there are three open check-in desks. Luckily “no time to wait” lady is in the line next to mine. Power competition starts between us. At least in my head. The man finishes with the check-in, take his passport and goes to the next security control post. Now is my turn. The lady also is moving ahead keeping her winner mood. But because the check-in desk is closer to me, I get to the point first. She looks at me angrily, puzzled and, attention please, begins to yell at me while going towards the check-in desk that is waiting for her. “Are you in a hurry, can’t you wait?!” she says. A noisy and loud polemic starts between us, while the border officers are checking out our passports. As soon as I receive mine, I go ahead quickly. But the lady is following me, continuing to talk a lot. It is nonsense to argue with her. I’m telling her, ok, now I will just film you, lady.
Her answer: I will sue you! And I will win! It will be not my first case. And not my first win. I always win!
- Do you always sue people when you don’t have time to wait?
- Nobody dares to cut my way.
- I think you must know a lot of Judges.
- For sure!
- That’s why you always win.
- Be sure about that!
- Well, I am. I don’t sleep with judges to win a case, so I have no doubt you will be the winner.
She is getting even angrier. We have this talk while we are verified at the security check. It is strange that the security officers stay quite. I mean, two passengers are arguing at the border and everybody feels like they don’t want to disturb.
A really funny thing is that the plane will not fly earlier, anyway, we’ll all be on the same plane, departing and arriving all together.
Somehow I feel threatened. I am thinking: Why this woman behaves like this? What gives her this power? It’s more than disrespectful to other human beings. It poisons everything around you. Moldova is the country where corruption flourishes. Day by day it becomes stronger and stronger. You can see that in every aspect of life, even in the tiniest one.
So, when someone is so sure of winning a case and threatens others with this, it is obvious that a situation of a deeply corrupted system was created. If you know the “right” people, you will be fine. That’s how everything works in Moldova (in the majority of cases).
I didn’t know anyone when I sue National Theatre Mihai Eminescu from Chisinau.
When I was working as an actress, I was fired. Everything happened so quickly that I barely had time to understand at least something. One thing I knew for sure, it was a completely illegal dismissal. I confronted with power abuse not only from the director of the National Theatre but also from people who work for him. Nobody talked to me. An actress whom I proposed to do a performance together approached me just to let me know that she will not work with me anymore.
None of my colleagues came in the instance to support me, instead, there were colleagues who were sent by the head of the theatre to testify against me. I’ve heard a lot of hate speech, a lot of blaming and accusation. It’s a shame that I sue the theatre, I should worship and kiss the stage. The stage is saint. What a shame! What a shame! What a shame! I have heard that so many times. So, in this situation, I just wonder, if Pavel Ustinov or Oleg Sentsov would be from Moldova, the movement #freeSentsov, #freeUstinov would still happen? Or how it happened to Serebrennikov. There was a big interest and attitude from society, but also extra attention came from Europe, from all the world actually.
I find out that in my country a lot of people are illegally fired and nobody takes an attitude. More than that, even the artists don’t, in order to defend themselves. And there are a lot of reasons: unwillingness to break relationships with colleagues, to be blamed for suing the theater, the fear that if she / he will do so, other theaters will not want to hire her / him. That is why many are leaving the country or are changing the field of activity, how was it in my case for instance.
In this way because of “no reaction” the power abuse grows every day and is becoming stronger and stronger. After the Director of National Theater Mihai Eminescu from Chişinău fired me and after I won in three instances the case, I was given a sum of money from the state budget (not from his personal pocket!), as a redemption for the illegalities committed by the theater. So, if you’re harming the state, but at the same time you are supported by a leading political party, then you are awarded with the honor prize. The same year. This is how low is working in Moldova!
Shortly after he became the general director of the National Opera and Ballet Theater of Moldova. This year, he fired from there seventeen artists. Very simple, via SMS messages. The best artists from the theater received the messages while at a festival, representing Moldova. I personally know two of them who went to work in other countries: one at Odessa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater and the other at the Romanian Opera Craiova. For now I don’t know anything about the artists who are still in the country. What are they doing? In Moldova, there is only one Opera and Ballet Theater.
Winning the case was a big surprise for me, I didn’t expect such a turn. I sue because my rights and dignity were violated, although I had no hopes. Only fear, tears, stress and doubts. The chance to have a female judge who listened and indeed examined the case was a big fortune.
Coming back to the examples I talked about above, I wish that as many as possible people from Moldova take attitude and fight for their rights. But knowing that in reality such directors are getting promoted, I am not that optimistic. Also, it’s very important to mention, this is happening in very different areas, not only in the artistic world.
Just recently I attended another conference that took place in Berlin, about the movement Me Too: “METAMORPHOSIS Lab. #Metoo and Feminism in East and West.” In Moldova, this movement almost didn’t happen. The self-censorship and fear of being accused are so strong that people prefer to remain silent. I myself have a try to talk about this topic openly. You cannot imagine what speeches started, how much hate and accusations I received. But this is another story that should be told.
P.S. Here, at this conference, organized by PEN Georgian Center, we are representing several post-Soviet countries. I wonder, is in your countries such winner ladies and directors who knows that everything will get away with it?