NARRATIVE: The policy of the former pro-Moscow president Igor Dodon with regard to the Transinstrian issue was correct, as he was about to settle the conflict. Maia Sandu may trigger an escalation of the conflict.
LOCAL CONTEXT / ETHOS: The Transnistria conflict, which broke out three decades ago, remains one of the main topics on the Moldovan-Russian agenda, as Moscow has openly expressed its interest in the region, referring to the approximately two hundred thousand people who also hold Russian citizenship.
The Transnistrian dispute degenerated in 1992 into an armed conflict that lasted several months and was ended with a peace agreement between the Republic of Moldova and the Russian Federation. A Russian military contingent and an ammunition depot from the Soviet period are still deployed in the region, despite Russia's commitments in the late 1990s to withdraw them.
Several conflict-settlement plans and negotiation formats have failed, and negotiations in the so-called 5 + 2 format (which includes Chisinau, Tiraspol, Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE, and the EU and the US as observers) are dragging on. Since 2005, when they were launched, the talks have reached a deadlock many times, and the parties have not tackled the most sensitive topic on the agenda - the political settlement of the conflict. In general, the agenda of talks includes topics such as free access of goods and citizens, recognition of diplomas, telephone connection.Tiraspol insists on having the region's independence recognized, Russia has repeatedly supported regulatory plans involving the federalization of the Republic of Moldova, in which Tiraspol would’ve had a major say, with Chisinau opting for a special status for the left bank of the Dniester. PURPOSE: To present former President Igor Dodon, who is close to Moscow, as a leader who was just about to settle the Transnistria conflict. At the same time, to present the pro-European Maia Sandu as a person who can cause the conflict to escalate. WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The inhabitants of the left bank of the Dniester, who also hold the citizenship of the Republic of Moldova, have always been able to vote in the elections in the Republic of Moldova. Special polling stations are set up for them in the localities on the right bank of the Dniester.The number of voters on the left bank of the Dniester has grown steadily over the past decade. From just over 2000 in the 2010 parliamentary elections, to over 16,000 in the second round of the 2016 presidential election and peaking in the 2019 parliamentary elections - over 37,000. They also participated in large numbers in the 2020 presidential elections - over 14,000 in the first round and almost 32,000 in the second round.However, since 2016, when the number of voters suddenly increased, multiple frauds have been reported, such as the organized transportation of voters and vote buying. In the 2019 parliamentary elections, even somebody close to Igor Dodon was accused of bribing voters.There were also some incidents reported in the 2020 presidential elections.The statement that during Igor Dodon's term the Transnistrian conflict got significantly closer to its settlement has no grounds either. The last meeting in the 5 + 2 format took place in October 2019. Igor Dodon had several meetings with the Transnistrian separatist leader, Vadim Krasnoselski, but no important decision was made and no concrete actions followed.Even the Chisinau government acknowledged at the end of Igor Dodon's term that, at least in the last half year, the situation had worsened, according to the findings of the OSCE Mission.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: A large number of voters from the left bank of the Dniestr participated in the 2020 presidential elections. But that was neither a first, nor a record.
THE NARRATIVES BENEFIT: Igor Dodon, Moscow