DISINFORMATION: Chișinău promotes anti-Russian hysteria

Russian Foreign Ministry's Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reacts during the annual news conference by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (not pictured) in Moscow, Russia, 18 January 2023.
© EPA-EFE/YURI KOCHETKOV   |   Russian Foreign Ministry's Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reacts during the annual news conference by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (not pictured) in Moscow, Russia, 18 January 2023.

Moscow is accusing the pro-European administration in Chișinău of promoting a Russophobic policy

The government in Chișinău is backing anti-Russian hysteria, whereas the Ukrainian army is responsible for war crimes, are two of the messages conveyed by the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova. The Russian official commented on a speech by Moldova’s president, Maia Sandu, where the president referred to the Russian dangers and threats in the context of the war in Ukraine.

NEWS: “Moldova has made a counterproductive choice to promote anti-Russian hysteria, without showing readiness to engage in a dialogue with Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, has told RIA Novosti.

“Even recently, on March 17, president Maia Sandu addressed Parliament and allowed herself to make baseless accusations about “Kremlin agents” and Russia’s plans to “bring war to Moldova”. On the same day, featuring on a TV show, the president referred to the International Criminal Court’s decision, which carries no legal weight and which the West has been promoting. The president went as far as resorting to defamation, claiming the Russian leadership is personally responsible for the war crimes committed in Ukraine”, the Russian diplomat recalled.

Zakharova pointed out that the Ukrainian authorities are to be held accountable for the war crimes, and “everyone can see that on an everyday basis”.

“The murderers (we draw the attention of decision makers in Moldova in particular) are the ones wearing the uniform of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, boasting the symbols of Bandera murderous nationalist battalions, borrowed from German Nazis. Since 2014, they have been giving murderous orders to destroy civilian installations and kill civilians in Donbas. Today, they carry out such orders in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson”, the Russian Foreign Ministry official explained”.

Fact: Russia is the one that launched a hybrid war against Chișinău

NARRATIVES: 1. The pro-European government in Chișinău is promoting a Russophobic policy. 2. The Ukrainian, not the Russian army, is committing war crimes in Ukraine.

BACKGROUND: The pro-European government in Chișinău has condemned the Russian invasion in Ukraine ever since the first days of the conflict. Moldovan-Russian relations have deteriorated in the last year, considering the war had direct consequences in the Republic of Moldova. The country was faced with an energy crisis and economic difficulties, but also a security crisis, considering Russian missiles crossed Moldovan airspace and fragments fell on its territory.

Fiery exchanges have intensified in the last month, after authorities in Chișinău and Kyiv as well as international officials spoke of an alleged Russian plan to destabilize the Republic of Moldova with a view to installing a pro-Russian regime. Moscow has accused the Moldovan government of trying to develop closer relations with NATO, of breaching its neutrality status and violating the rights of Russian-speaking national minorities. The Kremlin also criticized Chișinău because the Moldovan Parliament decided to replace the name of the official language of Moldova from Moldovan to Romanian (based on a Constitutional Court ruling of 2013).

In the context of growing insecurity generated by the war, the Republic of Moldova has consolidated its relations with Western powers. In June 2022, alongside Ukraine, Moldova obtained the EU candidate status, which again sparked Moscow’s anger. The spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova, was the mouthpiece of criticism against any Moldovan attempt to join the European Union.

As regards the second narrative, over the course of this war and particularly after images of massacres committed in Ukrainian cities north of Kyiv hit the media, Moscow has been trying to promote the idea that Ukrainian troops are in fact committing war crimes.

PURPOSE: To depict the Republic of Moldova (and its pro-European government) as an “unfriendly state” (a term used by Kremlin rhetoric), while on the other hand to reinforce the narrative about Russia fighting against “the collective West”. To justify actions and campaigns targeting Chișinău and divert public attention away from war crimes committed by Russian forces.

WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Despite Moscow’s open support for pro-Russian forces in the Republic of Moldova (for instance, Vladimir Putin openly supported Igor Dodon’s candidacy in the presidential elections), the pro-European government in Moldova opted for the consolidation of relations with Russia, which is also confirmed by the agenda of the Gavriliță Cabinet.

Chișinău has condemned the Russian invasion, although it has not aligned itself to the sanctions regime introduced by the international community. Nevertheless, Gazprom did not deliver the promised volume of gas to the Republic of Moldova in the cold season, as per its contractual obligations.

Authorities in Chișinău and other states have spoken about Moscow’s plans to destabilize the Republic of Moldova and replace the current government. Anti-government protests have recently resumed in Chișinău, organized by the party of wanted oligarch Ilan Shor, who reportedly enjoys close relations with the influential Russian official Dmitry Peskov.

It is unclear what the exact context was when the Russian MFA official went public on March 24. Apparently, Maria Zakharova referred to statements made by Maia Sandu precisely a week earlier. On March 17, the president of the Republic of Moldova delivered a speech in Parliament where she referred to Moldova’s priorities and its European track, condemning Russia’s plans to destabilize the country. President Sandu however did not convey any Russophobic messages.

Asked on the public television station about the decision of the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant in Vladimir Putin’s name, Maia Sandu said this “confirms the fact that [Putin] is personally responsible of war crimes committed in Ukraine”. Therefore, the president referred to the decision of an international court of law and did not accuse the Kremlin leader directly, which is what the Russian MFA spokeswoman claimed.

The so-called denazification of Ukraine was one of the reasons Putin invoked to justify the invasion of Ukraine. Russia has been using this narrative as early as 2014, when Kyiv took the path of European integration.

Without providing any argument to substantiate false claims about Nazism in Ukraine, both the Russian media as well as high-ranking politicians in Moscow want to generate a wave of negative emotion in post-Soviet countries. It is worth mentioning that Ukraine passed “the Law Condemning the Communist and National Socialist (Nazi) Totalitarian Regimes and Prohibiting the Propagation of their Symbols”, whereas Russia is currently rehabilitating Stalinism. History textbooks in Russia now highlight the important role Joseph Stalin played in consolidating the Soviet Union, and are endorsing the idea that Stalin’s crimes were “warranted by history”.

After evidence attesting the massacres committed in a number of Ukrainian cities reached the media, the Russian government media made a number of allegations, claiming the Ukrainian army had actually committed war crimes. Veridica has thus disproved several such propaganda articles. In June, the pro-Kremlin media wrote that Ukrainian troops are massacring Russian speakers while withdrawing from Donbas, and in July that Volodymyr Zelenskyy will be tried for war crimes. When the international community was shocked by the atrocities committed by Russian servicemen in the Kyiv region, the Russian media misinformed readers / viewers, claiming a group of American experts had proved that the war crimes in Bucha are a fabrication of “Ukrainian propaganda”. Then, the Russian media disseminated another false narrative, writing that Ukraine invited French experts who are concealing evidence of the war crimes committed by the Ukrainian Army in Bucha

GRAIN OF TRUTH: Moldovan authorities have criticized Russia for its interference of the internal affairs of the Republic of Moldova, although they did not convey any Russophobic messages.

Tags: Republica Moldova , Russia , hybrid warfare , War in Ukraine
  • Publication / Media:
    ria.ru
  • Date of publication:
    24/03/2023
  • Target audience:
    Russian citizens, Russian-speaking ethnic minorities in the Republic of Moldova
  • Amplification:
    mk.ru
  • Political affiliation:
    The Kremlin
  • Key narrative:
    The pro-European government in Chișinău is promoting a Russophobic policy
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