He is the correspondent of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) in Chisinau and a reporter for the Center for Journalistic Investigations in Moldova. He holds degrees in history and diplomacy. He has received scholarships and internships in journalism in the USA, Europe and the Middle East. He writes for Balkan Insight, Euronews and other European media.
The political parties in Romania have not been able to outline a program or a strategy to do politics in the Republic of Moldova, but they are interested in the votes they could get from there, as, according to estimates, some one million Moldovan citizens are also Romanian citizens in documents, and that makes a significant electoral pool. Four parliamentary parties from Bucharest are currently fighting for the votes of the Bessarabians: PSD (Social Democratic Party) PNL (National Liberal Party), USR (Save Romania Union) and AUR (Alliance for the Union of Romanians). Veridica wanted to find out how these parties are positioned before the 2023 local elections in the Republic of Moldova, but especially in the run-up to the 2024 parliamentary and presidential elections in Romania.
Vladimir Putin’s original plan was to subdue Ukraine without bloodshed and create a joint Russian-Ukrainian-Belarusian army that he could use to conquer Baltic States and the Republic of Moldova, the Russian-American expert Yuri Felshtinsky argues, adding that Moscow’s recent actions suggest, despite all the threats, that no nuclear weapons will be used against Ukraine.
The Russian-held regions in Ukraine have a right to self-determination and the referendums organized by Russia here are as legitimate as the independence of Kosovo, reads a false narrative launched by a Romanian publication, which also reiterates the false claim spread by Russian propaganda regarding Russia’s military superiority over the West.
French President Emmanuel Macron's project for a “European Political Community” is back in the spotlight after months of not much talk about it. It is known that the project also targets partner states outside the EU, but it is not at all clear what it means for the countries that want to join the EU; there are fears that, through the formation of the Community, accession could be postponed indefinitely, that the executive in Brussels will support the French proposal.
European Union Member States will abandon Ukraine ahead of the cold season lest Russia should suspend its gas deliveries and for fear of a nuclear threat coming from Moscow. To justify their decision, EU countries will play host to a number of protests with the help of the secret services.
The internal stability of the Republic of Moldova is threatened by pro-Russian politicians who are trying to stir the pot by capitalizing on the numerous crises facing this country. The most vocal of them are politicians who’ve had run-ins with the law, such as Ilan Shor, the mastermind behind the “billion-dollar theft”, as well as former Socialist leader Igor Dodon, indicted on five distinct charges. Aware of their schemes, Moscow uses energy exports as blackmail.
Russia is not to blame for the global rise in energy prices, it is the fault of an increasingly greedy Europe that has created “energy bubbles”. This false narrative, promoted in an online publication in Romania, repeats Russian propaganda and ignores Moscow's actions that actually led to the current situation.
The Republic of Moldova has increasingly distanced itself from Russia since the pro-European forces came to power in Chisinau following the early parliamentary elections of July 2021. The new government has taken a series of measures to reduce Moscow's influence and the dependence on it and sought, at the same time, to get in line, as much as possible, with the Western stands.
Romania, just like the other European countries, will suffer terribly because of the gas price and Russia's decision to partially halt gas supplies to Europe, but this is only the fault of the European leaders, who punished Moscow for the invasion of Ukraine. The false narrative ignores the fact that Russia needs the Europeans’ money, and the latter have taken steps to avoid a major energy crisis.
The Republic of Moldova could face a number of serious challenges this autumn, given that Russia wants to bring this country back into its orbit. At domestic level, Moscow is expected to use any leverage it has in the separatist region of Transnistria and in Găgăuzia. Adding to these pressure points will be the country’s energy concerns.
Most Romanian nationals want their country to leave NATO and the EU and there is no party that can politically capitalize on this move, according to a false narrative promoted by Gold FM, a radio station previously linked to promoting disinformation and fake news. The narrative is contradicted by surveys.
Uncertainty linked to the official language of the Republic of Moldova, 31 years after this country proclaimed its independence, reflects just how hard defining and accepting a national identity has been. The country’s inability to settle linguistic disputes and break away from “Moldovenism”, a Soviet construct, is one of Chișinău’s many failures: after 31 years of independence, the country is still unable to fully control its territory and to ensure its energy and military security.
The World Economic Forum plans to implant microchips to control children under the pretext of solving medical problems, according to a false narrative that also appeared in Romania. The narrative is typical of older conspiracy theories.
Sharing a 1000-kilometer long border with Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova has been affected by the war started by Russia on February 24 too. Veridica has spoken with several analysts in Chisinau to learn more about the main problems facing the Republic of Moldova, a state that is simultaneously facing an economic and an energy crisis, while at the same time trying to deal with a significant number of Ukrainian refugees.
Vaccination against COVID-19 is the cause of death of an 18-year-old basketball player from the National Women's Basketball League of Romania, according to an online publication that has promoted numerous false narratives about the coronavirus. The article was published before the cause of death was established and it was not known whether the young woman had been vaccinated or not.
The European track of the Republic of Moldova involves a break with its recent past, when the country was virtually at the mercy of highly influential oligarchs, who used their political leverage and media influence to create a genuine kleptocracy. One solution would be to apply the model employed by Ukraine, a country that passed a anti-oligarchic law.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is preparing a law that will extend the war with Russia for another 50 years, according to a false narrative appearing in Bucharest. It was published by Sorin Roșca Stănescu, a former collaborator of the communist political police and a criminal convict who has spread lots of disinformation in the public space.
Natalia Gavriliță’s Cabinet, supported by the majority made up of Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) MPs, has in the last year constantly navigated a number of unprecedented crises, a record-high inflation of some 32%, but it also grabbed the biggest victory since 1991 - obtaining EU candidate status.
Romania's strategic partnership with the US has not produced any tangible results or advantages for Romania, it has only turned the country into an importer of American weapons.
Romania will receive lots of African and Asians fleeing the Russian invasion in Ukraine, and Romanian authorities keep their nationality secret.
The security context and the political will in Chisinau were the main valid arguments used by Romanian diplomacy in supporting the Republic of Moldova on its European path. The Republic of Moldova managed, in less than four months, from March 3rd till June 23rd, to shift from the status of country that officially applied for EU membership to that of candidate country. By comparison, the Western Balkan states received a clear European perspective from Brussels 19 years after the EU Thessaloniki Summit in 2003.
Whistleblowers are “snitches”, much like the former informers of the Securitate in the communist period, according to a false narrative promoted in Bucharest by an actual ex-informer, Sorin Roșca Stănescu. The narrative has been circulated in the context of the adoption of a whistleblower law by the Chamber of Deputies, robbing the former of whatever protection they were offered under EU law.
The regional context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has inevitably led to a change in NATO's Strategic Concept. Accents have changed, and Russia has turned from a strategic partner of NATO into a “direct threat” to the security of the member states of the Alliance, as well as to some of their neighbors, including the Republic of Moldova.
The United States will test small modular reactors (SMR) in Romania, which could cause environmental problems and pose a major risk of nuclear accident, according to a narrative published in the Bucharest press.
Last week’s announcement that the Republic of Moldova had received the status of EU candidate country is going to be a game changer for Chisinau, but it will also bring new challenges.
Romanians' data on health, birth and mortality could reach the World Health Organization (WHO), which will use them for obscure purposes, according to a false narrative promoted in Romania by the controversial Josefina Pascal. The narrative takes elements from the conspiracy theory of the “Great Reset”.
Russia owns the most important strategic gas and electricity supply facilities in the Republic of Moldova and uses them skillfully to put not only economic but also political pressure on Chisinau’s key decisions. The scheme devised by Moscow supports the separatist regime in Tiraspol and offers the Kremlin an instrument to pressure Chisinau for the debts accumulated by Transnistria.
The war in Ukraine has brought to the fore the poor state of the Moldovan army, which remains underequipped after being neglected by the authorities in the last three decades. Yet the commonplace view in Chișinău right now is that the army should at least fend off an aggression coming from Transnistria. Russia and its mouthpieces, on the other hand, continue to absurdly claim that Moldova modernizing its army would be tantamount to breaching its neutrality.
The United States are responsible for triggering the war in Ukraine, and continue to fuel this conflict for its own economic benefit, but also with a view to turning Europe and some countries in Asia into its economic satellites, according to a false narrative published in Bucharest. The disinformation reiterates Moscow’s propaganda themes that try to justify Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, holding the West accountable for this conflict.
The appointment of the new head of the Intelligence and Security Service of the Republic of Moldova (SIS), Alexandru Musteață, on June 2, is a genuine test for the government in Chișinău, an opportunity to prove its commitment to implement reforms in the field of defense and national security.
The former pro-Russian President of the Republic of Moldova and de facto leader of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM), Igor Dodon, has been detained with the involvement of Romania’s special services, according to a false narrative released in Bucharest.
Igor Dodon is undoubtedly the product of the profiteering political class of the Republic of Moldova. Tutored by the former Communist President Vladimir Voronin and the fugitive oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, Dodon has been described as a prototype of the duality of the Moldovan politician, interested only in making lots of money and capable of any kind of internal or external political betrayal. Detained for corruption and treason, Dodon is now complaining that he is the victim of political persecution.
The Western media are lying, and the horrors committed by Russians in Ukraine are not real. Arms manufacturers want a New World Order, and are paying the western media for pro-Ukrainian propaganda, according to false narratives published in Bucharest.
The war in Ukraine has sparked a great of deal of concern in the Republic of Moldova, where the people have seen just how vulnerable the country is in case of a Russian attack. Neglected for years due to underfunding, incompetence or for the sake of “neutrality”, the army seems underprepared to efficiently defend the country. The West is trying to lend a helping hand and has promised to deliver military equipment.
Western countries are waging a war by proxy in Ukraine against Russia, and seek to destroy this country, although the armed conflict is affecting the West more than it does Russia.
The war in Ukraine is affecting the economy of the Republic of Moldova, which is already the poorest country in Europe. Tens of thousands of refugees are currently on Moldovan soil, the markets in Russia and Ukraine are much harder to access, imports from those countries are suffering, and all this is compounded by rising global prices and energy dependence on Russia. However, Chisinau could also benefit from the crisis, by accelerating its accession to the European Union.
Putin has announced the start of World War III and will use nuclear weapons because, due to the West’s involvement, its forces cannot win the war. The narrative is promoted by Sorin Roșca Stănescu, who was given a criminal sentence and who is known for his opinions that very much resemble Russian propaganda. The Kremlin has long promoted the possible start of nuclear warfare, in order to determine the West to withdraw its support for Ukraine.
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.
Romania, Poland, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova will jointly attack the separatist region of Transnistria, according to disinformation narratives carried by the Romania media. The disinformation was published in Romania in a version that contains a number of false information, which is a typical example of Russian propaganda.
As May 9 draws closer, the day when Russia and other ex-Soviet countries celebrate the victory against Nazi Germany, the number of incidents impacting Moldova’s weak spots increases. In Găgăuzia or Bălți, there are voices calling for breaching the law banning the symbols associated with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Several unclaimed “attacks” have taken place in Transnistria.
Ukraine's military intelligence service, along with the United States, has tried to trick Romania into sending special forces to Kherson, near Crimea, to be attacked by the Russians. The story was launched in Bucharest.
There is now a great deal of coagulation in Ukraine over the national idea, and Ukrainians quickly understood, from the earliest days of the Russian invasion, that they have to either fight or be killed, says Nadija Afanasieva, director of the Ukrainian Institute for International Politics in Kyiv. In an interview with Veridica, the international relations expert explained what Vladimir Putin actually meant when he said that Russia had “noble intentions”, but also what the role of the Transnistrian region in the economy of this war is.
The European Union is becoming an empire in which peripheral countries are being used for the interests of the strongest Member States. This false narrative has been promoted by Adrian Severin, a former politician who served time in prison for corruption.
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.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky makes the protection of the rights of the Romanian minority in Ukraine conditional on the aid that Romania should provide to the Kyiv authorities in this war.
In recent weeks, the Republic of Moldova has seen increasing pressure from Ukraine. Kyiv is persistently calling on Chișinău to take measures in order to rally itself to the international sanctions imposed on Russia. Such a move would be however irrelevant in economic terms, and wouldn’t represent such a strong signal not even at political level. Instead, it could cause bigger troubles for the pro-European government,
NATO / US are forcing Ukraine to fight against Russia for the latter to be defeated and Vladimir Putin overthrown. The narrative falls into the category of Russian propaganda that seeks to shift responsibility for the war from the aggressor to the victim (Ukraine) and its supporters (NATO). In Romania, the narrative is promoted by Ion Cristoiu, an active promoter of pro-Russia disinformation in the public space.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has caused a stir in the Republic of Moldova as well, as the country has Russian troops on its territory, a frozen conflict and an aggressive separatist entity backed by Moscow. The scenario of an invasion is increasingly less likely, given the difficulties the Russian troops have encountered in Ukraine, which does not mean though that the risk of some of the challenges escalating is not there.
The mines Ukraine has planted in the Black Sea could set off the hydrogen sulfide deposits in the sea and thus cause a cataclysm in Europe. The false narrative was promoted in Romania by Sorin Roșca Stănescu on Cozmin Gușă’s radio show. Both have previously fostered disinformation and fake news and have aligned themselves to Russia’s positions.
Through its tactics in Ukraine, the Russian military is reminiscent of the Soviet army in Afghanistan rather than a modernized force. Veridica spoke with Chisinau military historian and researcher Ion Xenofontov to see the similarities and differences between the two wars fought by the former USSR and its legal successor, Russia.
The Ukrainian army has shot down a fighter jet and a helicopter of the Romanian Armed Forces in Dobruja, after mistaking them for aircraft of the Russian army. This fake piece of news is promoted by publications and public figures (of whom some are associated with the far right) that over the years have been spreading disinformation, fake news and narratives promoted by Russia.
The Republic of Moldova has always been one of the easiest targets for the Russian propangada, which keeps working even if, against the background of the war in Ukraine, the Chisinau government has taken measures to contain and combat it. The narratives promoted in Moldova by Russia or pro-Russia entities and politicians are mainly about the war and seek to either present the Russian version of the war, or to discredit Ukraine and its citizens.
Romania needs to proclaim its neutrality with respect to the conflict in Ukraine, the controversial former minister of foreign affairs and convicted criminal, Adrian Severin, has said. In a letter addressed to Romanian authorities, Severin, who in recent years has been promoting sovereigntist and anti-Western theses similar to those appearing in narratives spread by Russia, is also reiterating some of Russia’s war propaganda themes.
The former Minister of Defense, Viorel Cibotaru, currently a political and military analyst in Chisinau fought in the 1992 war on the Dniester between the Moldovan army and the Transnistrian paramilitary forces, helped by the Russian 14th Guards Army. Viorel Cibotaru explained for Veridica the starting point of the conflict, the role of the special services and of the Russian veterans, and the plan for the conservation of the defunct USSR in the former union republics.
The public in Romania and Europe is inoculated with the fear of war so that Russia can be denigrated, the Russian press censored and arms sellers made rich. These false narratives are promoted by the controversial journalist Ion Cristoiu, who also says that the same “techniques” were used to terrorize the population during the pandemic.
A neighbor of Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova is directly interested in the way the war in Ukraine is unfolding, for both military and humanitarian reasons.
The United States does not consider Russia is invading Ukraine by sending troops to the separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, since it didn’t adopt harsher sanctions. This false narrative is promoted by Sorin Roșca Stănescu, a journalist known for being involved in criminal investigations, and whose articles regularly reference narratives similar to those publicized by Russian propaganda.
The Kremlin wants to strengthen its de facto power in Moldova’s separatist region of Transnistria by speeding up the procedure for granting Russian citizenship to residents of the region who have not acquired it yet. And while at it, Moscow is completely ignoring Chisinau.
The Western media misleads public opinion regarding the crisis in Ukraine, which in fact is one its diversions. These false narratives are promoted by one of the most controversial Romanian journalists, Ion Cristoiu, and amplified by the Kremlin’s mouthpiece, Sputnik.
Bucharest has understood in the last decade that investments in the sentimental part of the relationship with the Republic of Moldova should be replaced by concrete and long-term support.
Romania buys weapons from the Americans instead of putting money into education and has become a major investor in the United States without receiving anything in return, according to narratives promoted by the Kremlin mouthpiece, Sputnik. The narratives start from a text by journalist Patrick André de Hillerin.
The pro-European government in Chisinau has pledged to fight corruption and reform the judiciary. Both are difficult processes and it remains to be seen how far they will go or whether they will rather opt for the more convenient “televised justice”, showing spectacular cases, meant to increase ratings and, implicitly, bring more votes.
Romania will be partitioned by its neighbors if it decides to fight alongside NATO in a war against Russia. This false narrative was launched on the Romanian media market with a view to eroding public confidence in NATO, and to demonstrate that Russia is not the aggressor in the current crisis in Ukraine.
The government of the Republic of Moldova has repeatedly taken political and economic actions in order to ensure the survival of the separatist regime in Transnistria. Chișinău has become an advocate of this regime rather than a sovereign state that should encapsulate and reintegrate a rebel territory.
NATO is threatening Russia and is rallying a sizable force close to its borders, the Kremlin-linked media claims. In fact, NATO is merely consolidating its eastern flank, in response to Russia’s threats, whereas the troops the Alliance has mobilized represent a fraction of the over 100 thousand troops Moscow has massed.
The crisis in Ukraine has generated a great deal of concern in the Republic of Moldova as well, considering that a possible conflict might also spread to its territory, in Transnistria.
The United States proposed the dismantling of Romania and wanted to offer it to Russia at the end of the Cold War, according to a piece of disinformation published in Bucharest. The offer was allegedly made based on theses from “The Clash of Civilizations”, a book that was published a few years later.
The social media in the Republic of Moldova has been flooded these days by a surging number of pictures of gas bills people uploaded once the energy price rises hit the market. The price hikes and the energy crisis are real, but Moscow and the Moldovan opposition are using them to undermine the pro-European government and its line of reforms.
Romania is being turned into a market for products of inferior quality compared to those sold in other EU countries, although traded under the same brand, according to a piece of fake news published in Bucharest. The false narrative is based on a draft law with the specific goal of protecting consumers.
The crisis in Kazakhstan might persuade Moldovans, once and forever, that the model proposed by Russia in its sphere of influence is bound to fail, and that that they need to stop oscillating between the “Eastern” and Western vectors.
Romania is a Russophobic state by order of the West, despite its historical closeness and friendship with Russia. Unlike politicians, however, Romanians appreciate Russia and share the values it defends, according to disinformation published by the Kremlin's mouthpiece, Sputnik.
The Republic of Moldova will face a series of great challenges in 2022, both at home, linked to the reforms promised by the PAS government and the economic evolution of the country, as well as abroad, in the context of the growing tensions between the West and Russia and the crisis in neighboring Ukraine.
For the Republic of Moldova, 2021 has been ridden with political, social and economic challenges. The highlight of the year was the victory of pro-European forces in the parliamentary election, after in late 2020 Maia Sandu had secured the office of president.
Romania has been dragged into a trap by its NATO allies to send military equipment, troops and instructors to Ukraine, but when Russia will start the war against this country, Bucharest will be left to stand alone, according to a false narrative published by Evenimentul Zilei.
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.
Romania has become a dumpster for the military equipment discarded by other NATO member states, which is illustrative of its servitude towards the Allies. This false narrative was prompted by AUR leaders and amplified by Sputnik.