Outside Russia, Moscow’s representatives and supporters tried to mark Victory Day in ex-Soviet and ex-communist countries, but in most cases, their actions were overshadowed by protest actions against Russia’s acts of aggression or demonstrations of solidarity with Ukraine. Veridica’s contributors in ex-Soviet and ex-communist states have closely followed May 9 celebrations.
Tens of thousands of people have left Russia in the last three months due to oppression, condemning the aggression in Ukraine. Many have stayed however, continuing to oppose the establishment and to take part in anti-war actions. A large number of journalists, activists and human rights militants have no intention of letting up, despite the repressive legislation and the risk of facing criminal punishments. Veridica has selected a number of topics from the top independent sources in Russia.
May 9 was a much anticipated event in Chișinău: a recent law forbids the public display of symbols associated with the Russian army and the invasion of Ukraine – the ribbon of Saint George and the letters Z and V. Previously, pro-Russians had announced they would ignore the law. Fears were running high that public unrest might break out. That wasn’t the case, and the demonstration actually resembled a display of communist nostalgia rather than an act of solidarity with Russia.
May 9 will be different than usual: celebrating it could be seen as a celebration of Russia’s aggression. While waiting for the events in Moscow and elsewhere to unfold, Veridica has set out to find out what May 9 may still mean in the former USSR and ex-communist countries, as reported by its correspondents in those countries.
The Russian independent media continue to report on the war in Ukraine and its impact on the people of Russia, on the Russian soldiers who have disappeared during the invasion and the families that are looking for them, on young people who are forced to sign contracts to fight in the war, or on Russian citizens protesting against the aggression, even if they risk their freedom and their lives.
Veridica has selected stories about how war lies are fabricated, how the words Ukraine and Kyiv have been removed from textbooks, and what journalism students are learning in the country's new political context.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has unnerved Chișinău. Many talk about the risk the Republic of Moldova could be Moscow’s next target, something which Russian propaganda also suggested. On the other hand, the Republic of Moldova could also seize this opportunity to definitely break away with Russia and accelerate its integration into the Western world.
The crimes, torture and robberies committed by the Russian military are the result of a deficient education system but also of social issues neglected by the authorities, writes the independent Russian press, which continues to work despite the fact that it is almost banned in Russia. Veridica has found an article about how the Russians have come to denounce those who do not share the official version about the war, as well as two interviews, one about Putin's regime, the other about the decline of the Russian oil industry due to sanctions.
The Republic of Moldova is intensifying its efforts to combat Russian propaganda. The Chisinau Parliament adopted, in first reading, a series of normative acts which, on the one hand, ban symbols associated with the Russian army and the invasion of Ukraine, and on the other hand, provide the state institutions with new tools to stop propaganda in the audio-visual media and online environment.
The Proekt team, declared an undesirable organization in the Russian Federation last year, returns with an extensive investigation into Vladimir Putin's health problems. The Insider writes how, before being assassinated, the politician Boris Nemtsov was pursued by FSB agents later involved in the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. Russian publicists are also pondering the chances of Putin being tried by the Hague Tribunal for war crimes.
Zelensky spoke up for Ukraine in front of numerous legislative and international bodies. Each time, the message carried a call for help and a plea to stop Russia. The speeches that conveyed this message were adapted to the specific audiences Zelensky addressed, including references to historical figures and events, as well as shared ideas and values.
The war had a powerful impact on the perception of Ukrainians, something which has been confirmed by opinion polls published after February 24. From a politician with plummeting numbers, Volodymyr Zelensky’s approval rating has now reached unbelievably high levels. Russia is now hated by most Ukrainians, who also distance themselves from the Moscow Patriarchy
After the Republic of Moldova proclaimed its independence, on August 27, 1991, the relations between Chisinau and Tiraspol deteriorated considerably. There were clashes between the Moldovan and Transnistrian forces. And then, on March the 2nd, the war started
Subject to a virtual ban in Russia, where journalists risk serving prison time if they write about the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Russian independent media continues to write about the conflict and its effects. This week, Veridica has selected articles about journalist Oksana Baulina, killed in Kyiv during a shelling of the Russian army, about the refusal of Russian soldiers to fight in Ukraine and about the Kremlin-linked billionaires’ waning power.
Viruses synthesized to target certain populations and areas transported by birds instead of missiles, an army of Satanists fighting on the side of Ukrainian forces and “delicate” bombings carried out by the Russian army – these are some of the weirdest narratives launched by Russian propaganda after the invasion of Ukraine.
In the articles selected this week by Veridica, journalists are calling on their peers who sided with the Putin regime to tell the truth. They describe how war is being presented in schools across Russia and argue that information justifying the Russian aggression in Ukraine was introduced in school curricula a few years back.
Among those, the obsession for imaginary “Nazis”, labeling anyone opposing Kremlin policy “traitors”, and criticism against the so-called LGBTQ “ideology”
Ukraine is responding to the Russian propaganda by launching its own narratives, aimed at encouraging the population and demoralizing the enemy. So far, Kyiv and Ukrainians – since journalists and regular citizens are also pulling their weight – seem to be winning the information war.
Putin’s regime has introduced a near-total censorship in Russia, and the new law about “fake news concerning military actions” imposes prison sentences on anyone writing or using the word “war”, considering that the government’s official discourse states that Ukraine’s invasion is merely a “special operation”. Nevertheless, Russian independent journalists are still making efforts to reach their public. All they have left is the Internet, which is itself subject to certain limitations. Independent journalists write about the massive wave of people leaving the country, comparable to the mass-migration of 1917. They also continue to provide information about the “special operation” and are trying to counter the extensive propaganda aggressively promoted on all federal channels.
On Sunday, March 6, 11 days after the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the number of Ukrainians seeking refuge in Poland exceeded one million people. What is happening at the border crossings, in the cities and is Poland ready to accept millions of refugees? Veridica’s Michal Kukawski reports from the epicenter of the Ukrainian refugee crisis, a crisis that may be on the verge of becoming dramatic.
People previously promoted by Sputnik, who in the past were accused of defending the interests of Russia and/or were associated with the anti-vaxx movement, launched a number of anti-Ukrainian disinformation narratives after war broke out. Cozmin Gușă, Diana Șoșoacă and Iosefina Pascal are among those who promote these disinformation themes, ranging from false justifications for the invasion (the existence of laboratories manufacturing biological weapons), to complete denial of an actual war.
With the outbreak of war in Ukraine, the Kremlin has tightened its grip on information reaching the Russian public. The little independent press that still existed and was trying to provide information about what was really going on in Ukraine was practically silenced. Veridica flipped through independent media articles published just before total censorship was installed in Russia.
The media and social media users in Ukraine have mobilized in order to encourage the population to resist and spread information about the war from Kyiv’s perspective as much as possible, including in Russia. It is interesting to note how Ukrainians have intercepted messages and symbols used by the Kremlin’s propaganda, including in the information war against Ukraine.
The Transnistrian war officially broke out on March 2, 1992, at a time when there had been violence for several months. The war was the last - and bloodiest - stage of a conflict in the former USSR between reformist forces, which in the republics had taken the form of national emancipation movements, and conservative ones, which wanted to maintain a Soviet empire with its capital in Moscow. The newly formed Russian Federation intervened in the war to maintain a bridgehead in the former province / Union republic.
Despite the government's censorship and the triumphant image of the war that the Kremlin sells to the public, the Russian independent media is trying to accurately report on both what is happening on the ground and the possible consequences of Vladimir Putin's war.
The discovery in recent years of significant deposits of natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean area has triggered a competition with possible long-term ramifications, not just for countries that own the deposits in question, but also on the European Union’s strategic sovereignty.
Relations between the Republic of Moldova and Romania have often been described as privileged, and there is even talk of a strategic partnership. However, on numerous occasions during the last few decades, Bucharest’s efforts and openness have stood out more, even when it was met with hostility by a country that has ever strived to strike a balance between its “Eastern” and Western orientation.
The Romanian Revolution of December 1989, as well as the national rebirth movement in the Republic of Moldova, wrought up the Romanians in Bukovina, which was an integral part of the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic. Many of the hopes that came with the demise of communisms were however shattered in the face of the new geopolitical realities.
The United States is pulling out from Iraq in December. This is the second time the Americans are withdrawing from this country. In their wake remains a fragile state, where Washington’s enemies have a big say.
The pipeline should have been a first step towards reducing dependence on Russian gas. However, as long as Gazprom’s prices remain lower than on the European markets, the gas pipeline is only decorative.
The coronavirus pandemic was accompanied by a genuine wave of fake news, the second in merely a decade. The false narratives in this wave are repurposed and updated: the disinformation they spread are disguised to come across as local topics and concerns. The Kremlin has thus adjusted its strategy for spreading disinformation to Romanians’ notorious Russophobia.
The strategic partnership between Romania and the USA will enter a new stage, after the signing last Thursday of a very important agreement between the Romanian state-owned company Nuclearelectrica and the US NuScale Power on the deployment in Romania of small modular nuclear reactors, known as SMR, which will give access to a new source of clean energy.