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DISINFORMATION: Chisinau was developed by the Russians and fell into disrepair under the Romanian administration

Disinformation

Chisinau developed only during the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union and fell into disrepair during the period of the union with Romania and the independence of the Republic of Moldova, according to a narrative in the Russian media. In reality, Chisinau developed significantly during the time it was part of Romania and was largely destroyed by the Red Army in 1941 and 1944, before being rebuilt in the Soviet style.

NEWS: “On October 14, Chisinau celebrated City Day. The capital of Moldova had several periods of development – ​​from a small provincial town during Pushkin's time, to a governorate center at the beginning of the 20th century, from a city almost completely destroyed by the Germans and a depopulated settlement, to a one of the largest industrial hubs of the Soviet Union. After the declaration of independence, Chisinau unfortunately lost much of the achievements of the previous generations. We would like to hope that despite all attempts and the anti-national course of the present government, the city will retain its status and regain its former glory. We probably won't exaggerate if we say that the city of Chisinau owes its capital status to Russia [...]”

The publication also writes that “the occupation of these lands by Romania once again transformed Bessarabia into a dead end province, with colony status, from where all resources were transported to the metropolis”, that “during the Nazi occupation, the population of the capital decreased to 25 thousand inhabitants”, that “city development plans stopped with the proclamation of independence, and the gained “freedom” turned into poverty and degradation”, that “the European path promoted by the authorities is incompatible with development, but relies on imports” and that “changing the power and the course of foreign policy would lead to Moldova’s true independence and, respectively, to Chisinau’s industrial renaissance, development and prosperity”.

Reality

NARRATIVES: 1. Chisinau developed only during the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union and fell into disrepair during the union with Romania and after the declaration of independence of the Republic of Moldova. 2. The European path of the Republic of Moldova hampers development, and Chisinau can regain its greatness only if there is a change of government.

PURPOSE: The narratives aim to present the periods of Russian/Soviet occupation as flourishing and beneficial for the development of Chisinau and at the same time to denigrate the periods in which it was part of Greater Romania, the independence of the Republic of Moldova and its European course.

CONTEXT: Chisinau's history has been linked to Russia since 1812, when the latter annexed the eastern part, up to the Prut, of the Principality of Moldova. Chisinau then became the administrative capital of the Russian governorate of Bessarabia, being also used as a stationing point for Russian troops. On March 27, 1918, the State Council decided on the Union of Bessarabia with Romania, and Chisinau became part of an intense process of modernization according to Romanian models. In the interwar period, Chisinau became one of the great urban centers of Romania, with an intense cultural and economic life. With the Soviet occupation, Chisinau became the capital of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic and was rebuilt according to the Soviet model; since independence, the city has been the capital of the Republic of Moldova.

WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Chisinau was named the administrative capital after the territorial robbery of 1812 and the annexation to the Russian Empire, but only in 1873, when Bessarabia became a governorate, did the city begin to develop. Chisinau modernized in particular thanks to the mayor Carol Schmidt, who led the city for 25 years, between 1877 and 1903, and radically changed its appearance, thanks to the collaboration with architect Alexandru Bernardazzi.

Chisinau continued to develop intensively during the interwar period , under the administration of Romania. In the city, many comfortable houses, urban villas, apartment buildings, very well-designed schools were built, and libraries, printing houses, and theaters were opened. It was also then that a series of enterprises began to operate, the first mechanized mill, a bread factory, a sausage factory, a candy factory, shoe, knitwear, fur factories, and exhibitions of industrial goods and agricultural machinery were organized. In 1919, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry was set up in Chisinau, and the banking sector began to develop, with the establishment of the Bank of Bessarabia.

In 1921, the first airport became operational, and Chisinau was also integrated into Romania's road network. The Popular University was founded in 1918, then the Faculty of Theology (1926) and the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences (1933). In 1919, the Unirea Conservatory was founded, in 1929 the National Conservatory was established, and in 1936 the Municipal Conservatory. In Chisinau there were a National Theater, several cinemas, the Museum of History, a number of associations and cultural societies, dozens of Bessarabian newspapers and magazines.

Under the Romanian administration, schooling was compulsory and by 1940 in Chisinau there were 50 primary schools, 11 high schools, three gymnasiums, the teachers' school, a diocesan school, a theological seminary, an accounting school, the Military High School, the Commercial High School, Princess Dadiani Girls' High School, Queen Mary Girls' High School, B.P. Hasdeu High School, the Diocesan High School, the Industrial High School and more. During the Romanian period, the first democratic events took place - in 1919, in the first parliamentary elections, the city elected its representatives in the Romanian Parliament. Thus, the statement that “the occupation of these lands by Romania once again turned Bessarabia into a provincial dead end, with colony status”, is false and manipulative.

The publication claims that the city was rebuilt after the war and developed thanks to the Soviet Union, but omits to say that it was mostly destroyed by the retreating Soviet army in the summer of 1941, when the most important buildings in the center of Chisinau were mined and blown up by destruction battalions  created by the NKVD. On the other hand, taking over the city during the war, for three years, the Romanian administration rebuilt a large part of the destroyed buildings. Another episode of destruction followed in June 1944, when Soviet bombers dropped tons of bombs on the city. The Soviet propaganda blamed the “German-Romanian occupiers” for the destruction of the city. After the war, the city was rebuilt in the Soviet style and few of the previously built edifices survived. In the context of communist planning, bulldozers destroyed many historical buildings that could be restored, on the grounds that they did not correspond to the Soviet plans.

The publication also writes that the city developed economically during the Soviet period, but all the transformations in the economic sphere were accompanied by the denationalization of the native population and the modification of the ethnic structure of the city's population. Specialists from all corners of the USSR, but especially ethnic Russians, were brought into the state administration, the party bodies, the administration of the economic sectors. Russian language and culture were dominant in Soviet Chisinau. At the same time, all goods produced were intended for the USSR, not for the local population. The population's purchasing power was low, and everyday goods were in short supply. People could not own anything.  The housing stock in Chisinau belonged to the Soviet state too. Moreover, the Russians who came were favored not only with better positions and jobs, but also with apartments in Chisinau, to the detriment of the local population. Privatization of housing in favor of citizens was done after the declaration of independence, by the state of the Republic of Moldova.

Even though the Republic of Moldova had to face some economic crises after the declaration of independence, Chisinau kept developing. Though criticized for shortcomings and administrative issues, for the corruption among its officials, the destruction of the architectural heritage and lack of urban vision, Chisinau has been developing from an economic point of view, with most of the economy of the Republic of Moldova concentrated here. The population of Chisinau has been growing and, at the same time, massive construction works are underway in the public and private sectors. Moreover, thanks to European projects, in particular, public transport has been modernized, the main city roads have been repaired with European money, schools have been thermally insulated, also with EU funds, etc.

The claims that the city's development plans stopped with the proclamation of independence, that freedom has brought poverty and degradation, and that the European course is detrimental to Chisinau's development, are part of the Kremlin's propaganda, which promotes the thesis that the former Soviet republics have a future only within “the Russian world”.

Russian propaganda, just like Soviet propaganda, resorts to the falsification of history in its claims over the territories it occupied by force. Veridica has debunked several historical forgeries regarding the famine organized  in the MSSR, the 1918 Union of Bessarabia with Romania, the well-being  of the MSSR population, regarding events and consequences  of the Second World War.

  • Publication / Media:
    Rubaltic.ru
  • Date of publication:
    14/10/2022
  • Target audience:
    People from the former Soviet Republics
  • Political affiliation:
    The Kremlin
  • Key narrative:
    Chisinau was developed by the Russians and fell into disrepair under the Romanian administration
Mariana Vasilache

21 Oct 2022

Updated at: 22 Oct 2022 18:34:14
Mariana Vasilache

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