The war launched by Russia in Ukraine also led to an intensification of the use of propaganda materials, fake news and disinformation targeting the Republic of Moldova. The goal was to discredit the West and undermine the values it promotes, but also to blame the pro-European government for the economic and social issues initially triggered by the Covid pandemic, then by the war. At the same time, the promotion of narratives according to which the Republic of Moldova is part of the so-called “ruskii mir”, the Russian world, and that Russia is a space of “traditional values” and resistance to the “western degradation” continued. Such false narratives were disseminated mainly by the Russian media, fueled and/or taken over by pro-Kremlin politicians and media channels in the Republic of Moldova.
Top 5 narratives
- The interference of the West in the internal affairs of the Republic of Moldova was the main false narrative debunked by Veridica in 2021 as well ; The narrative was used again in 2022, but adapted to the new circumstances generated by the war in Ukraine. The “interference of the West” turned into the involvement of NATO and the involvement of the Republic of Moldova in the war against Russia. The thesis, which appeared on Telegram channels and was picked up by the Russian press since the first days of the invasion, was promoted through a series of false narratives. Initially, they wrote that the Republic of Moldova turned into a transit territory for NATO weapons in Ukraine , then that the Republic of Moldova is arming itself to fight Russia , and finally that NATO is pushing Moldova into a war with Russia. In the same context, the increase in the defense budget by approximately 30 million dollars was commented as preparation for war with Russia , or that the Republic of Moldova was closing schools to buy weapons Of course, the evil role played by Romania was not forgotten, and the country was accused of preparing to annex the Republic of Moldova, as well as part of Ukraine.
- “The Republic of Moldova intends to attack Transnistria with the support of the West” was another narrative intensively promoted last year, including in the context of the war in Ukraine, but also to fuel mistrust between Chisinau and Tiraspol and prevent the identification of a peaceful solution to the conflict that has been going on for over three decades. The West is pushing the Republic of Moldova into a war with Transnistria , or Romania, Poland, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova are preparing to invade the separatist region were some of the panic-sowing messages. They were followed by others, about alleged talks between Chisinau and Kyiv on trading of territories . Other narratives were about a so called intention of Chisinau’s to denounce the cease-fire agreement in Transnistria, and others presented the Russian military presence in the region as the cornerstone of security for the entire region.
- Russia had an essential contribution to the development of the Republic of Moldova, while Romania had a nefarious role; that was another narrative designed to glorify Russia and the Soviet past and, at the same time, fuel the phobias of a part of the population on the left Prut towards the “danger of the union”. Moldovans must be grateful to the USSR because they were liberated in 1945 , and banning symbols associated with the war, such as the so-called St. George's Ribbon, is an insult to Moldova's history and values, according to (pro)Russian propaganda and disinformation, who also claimed that the Soviet regime did not organize the famine of 1946-1946 in Bessarabia, , Chisinau was developed by Russians and fell under disrepair under the Romanian administration, and if the Republic of Moldova had remained part of Romania, its population would have been illiterate .
- Maia Sandu and the Action and Solidarity Party are instating a dictatorial and Russophobic government in the Republic of Moldova. On the one hand, the measures adopted by the authorities to combat propaganda, under the state of emergency, were commented as censorship and the establishment of dictatorship: in the Republic of Moldova, censorship is introduced by banning the broadcasting of certain categories of programs from Russia. On the other hand, an old topic was resumed, about promoting Russophobia, undermining Russian minority and language in the Republic of Moldova, including by closing down schools with teaching in Russian . In an attempt to demonstrate the level of dictatorship reached in the Republic of Moldova, one of the theses was that Maia Sandu is preparing a coup d’état against her own government.
- The Pro-European government has impoverished the citizens. It was an extremely sensitive narrative for the citizens of the Republic of Moldova, severely affected by inflation and the economic crisis amplified by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. It is the government's fault that in Chisinau (led by a mayor considered affiliated with Moscow) transport fees are increasing or that the poverty caused by Maia Sandu is forcing people to use manure to heat their homes , are some of the pieces of disinformation debunked by Veridica. The Republic of Moldova, without the CIS market (an organization controlled by Moscow), would have nowhere to sell its products, the Moscow press also warned, pointing the finger at the “defective policy” of the pro-Europeans.
Top 5 FAKE NEWS
- FAKE NEWS: Ukrainian refugees cause disturbance in the Republic of Moldova, and Kyiv wants to draw Chisinau into the war. Ukrainian refugees behave rudely towards Moldovans, try to impose their political visions and break the law, according to the Russian media, which also wrote in mid-March, when more and more Ukrainian refugees were arriving in the Republic of Moldova, that the authorities in Kyiv intended to involve the Republic of Moldova in the war against Russia. The purpose was to discredit the Ukrainians and Ukraine, to fuel the fear of drawing the Republic of Moldova into the war, and to reduce the empathy of the majority of citizens towards the authorities in Kyiv who are defending themselves against the Russian invasion.
- FAKE NEWS: the attacks in Transnistria were staged by the West to attract Moldova into NATO and to capture Soviet-era ammunition. Western states and Ukraine have staged terrorist acts in Transnistria in order to push Moldova into NATO and capture the ammunition stored in the region from the days of the Soviet Union, the Russian media writes. These false narratives are used alongside an older metanarrative about the West’s responsibility for the war in Ukraine. Their goal was to accuse Ukraine of aggression towards Transnistria, supported by Moscow. Also, they were meant to strengthen the Kremlin’s disinformation, according to which the war in Ukraine was triggered by the US.
- FAKE NEWS: FBI agents have arrived in Chisinau in order to push the Republic of Moldova into a military confrontation with Russia. FBI agents and German intelligence officers are plotting to involve the Republic of Moldova into a military operation against Russia, according to a controversial Russian journalist. His statement was shared by media outlets such as politnavigator and tsargrad, and have been dismissed by Chisinau authorities. The fake news was meant to describe the Republic of Moldova as a state that poses a threat to the Russian Federation, to support the view that the Republic of Moldova is governed by external forces and “is swarming” with foreign agents, hostile to the Russian Federation.
- FAKE NEWS: the UE abandoned the Republic of Moldova, and Romania doubled the price of electricity The European Union has abandoned the Republic of Moldova, Romania has doubled its energy tariffs, and the anti-Russian policy of the government in Chisinau has triggered deep crises, comwrote, trying to present the West as a disloyal partner and to reduce people’s trust in the EU and the western institutions. In reality, the West is the biggest financial supporter of the Republic of Moldova, which is affected by the crisis just like the rest of the countries in the region.
- FAKE NEWS: the EU makes Moldova’s accession conditional on the legalization of same-sex marriages. “The accession of the Republic of Moldova to the EU, conditional on the legalization of LGBT marriages”, headlined national.ro, the topic being immediately taken up by pro-Kremlin news sites in the Republic of Moldova and Russia. In fact, it is not an obligation, but a recommendation from May of the European Parliament regarding the rights of the LGBT community. Moreover, the Republic of Moldova later obtained the status of candidate country without having to legalize marriages between people of the same sex.
Top 5 DISINFORMATION
- DISINFORMATION: the weapons delivered to Ukraine transit the territory of Moldova said the pro-Russian politician Igor Dodon, in an interview given under house arrest. His statements were also taken over by the official press of the Russian Federation and the purpose was to misinform and accuse the pro-European government in Chisinau of wanting to involve the country in war. The narratives are part of the Russian war propaganda and try to inoculate the idea that the West wants to draw other states into a war against Russia. As a defender of Russian interests in the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon also stated that the West wants to use Moldovans as cannon fodder in its geopolitical struggle, that the pro-European government wants to bring NATO troops to its territory, etc.
- DISINFORMATION: NATO will not defend its members in the event of a conflict with Russia NATO is a weak organization that, in the event of a conflict with Russia, will not defend even its own members, as it did not defend Ukraine, writes in a comment ehomd.info, a web page blocked by the Intelligence and Security Service after the start of the war in Ukraine for spreading false information. The disinformation tried to portray NATO as a weak alliance, unable to defend its own members, while suggesting that Russia is (much) stronger militarily.
- DISINFORMATION: Chisinau has called on Romania for support to defend against Russia, and this will lead to the annexation of Moldova The Republic of Moldova will ask for Romania's help in case it is attacked by Russia, and this will lead to its annexation by the Romanian state, wrote topwar.ru. Like other Russian publications, topwar.ru incorrectly quoted statements made in Bucharest by President Maia Sandu and interpreted them as announcing an alliance against Russia. Maia Sandu stated that the Chisinau authorities will request help, but did not specify from whom. “We are worried and admit all scenarios, including the most pessimistic ones, so we are preparing for all scenarios, and if Russia tries to attack the Republic of Moldova, we will obviously ask for help”, she said.
- DISINFORMATION: The EU grants the status of candidate to Russophobe countries that have nothing to gain from that The European Union is offering candidate countries status on the basis of their Russophobia and, together with NATO, is assembling a war coalition against Russia, according to some narratives launched by pro-Russian politicians in Chisinau and officials in Moscow. They appeared in the context in which the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine received the status of candidate countries for EU accession. Through these narratives, the Russian Federation and politicians from Chisinau who serve the interests of the Kremlin try to minimize the importance of obtaining the status of accession candidate for the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.
- DISINFORMATION: Ukrainian refugees take advantage of Moldovans’ hospitality Ukrainian refugees behave aggressively and defiantly, and the hosts are increasingly dissatisfied. In the Republic of Moldova, they vandalize Soviet monuments and fight with the locals, writes the Russian publication mk.ru, citing social media sources, but without proving the accusations. In the Republic of Moldova, several such pieces of disinformation were debunked by the press. The narrative is based on unproven allegations in some cases and, each time, on generalizations, referring to the statements of individuals without checking the facts.
3 MOST BIZZARE NARRATIVES
- Romanian consumers will no longer be able to purchase energy from Hidroelectrica and Nucleareletrica, which will supply electricity to the Republic of Moldova Romania will run out of electricity supplies this winter, because the government passed a decree whereby the entire energy output of the country’s state-owned electricity providers will be transferred to the Republic of Moldova, according to a false narrative launched in the context of the energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In fact, Bucharest authorities never passed such a decree, while both providers have standing contracts with the state that need to be honored.
- Igor Dodon was arrest4ed because he was trying to prevent the Republic of Moldov afrom entering the war. Former president of the Republic of Moldova, Socialist Igor Dodon, was arrested because he wanted to prevent the Republic of Moldova from entering the conflict in Ukraine, media outlets in Chișinău and Moscow claim. In fact, Dodon was detained as part of official investigations into the illegal funding of Dodon’s party, which were launched a few years ago.
- The US is preparing to attach Transnistria . American soldiers from the well-known 101st Airborne Division have been deployed in Romania also with the aim of attacking the separatist Transnistrian region, in particular the power plant in this region, a controversial Russian political scientist claims. The false narrative was taken over by Politnavigator, a Kremlin-affiliated website. The new narrative, in which the main target becomes the Cuciurgan Power Plant, has been launched in the context in which this structure, controlled by a Russian company and the Transnistrian separatist authorities, stopped the supply of electricity to the Republic of Moldova (right bank) after Gazprom reduced the volume of natural gas. The thesis related to the attack on the Cuciurgan Power Plant seems even less likely given that its destruction would also leave the right bank of the Dniester without energy.