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Disinformation:

DISINFORMATION: The killing of the bear Arthur proves Romania is a Western colony

Disinformation

The hunt of a trophy-bear by a Prince of Lichtenstein is used as an opportunity to breathe new life into narratives depicting Romania as a Western colony. This disinformation seeks to capitalize on the wave of public outrage sparked by this story, which has already prompted a criminal investigation into poaching and illegal use of firearms.

NEWS: “[…] A new phenomenon has emerged in Romania, one we might label the indignation against the humiliations and mistreatments suffered by Romanians at the hand of the West.

What makes it all the more outrageous is that the indignation was not triggered by the suffering of a human being, but the killing of the bear named Arthur, an atrocious and, seemingly illegal, action of an Austrian citizen of royal descent. In a peculiar way, the bullet that shot down the bear was felt by every Romanian”.

Reality

NARRATIVES: 1. The bear Arthur was abusively shot by a representative of the West who knows he can do whatever he pleases in this “colony-country”. 2. Romania is a Western colony, which bought its way into EU and NATO and is now looted by foreigners who dictate its policies and future.

BACKGROUND: One of the largest bears in Romania was shot and killed by Josef-Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein, a prince residing in Austria. Josef-Emmanuel allegedly paid 7,000 Euro to hunt this prime female bear, which was marked for killing as it was causing damages. The Prince claims to have shot the bear and presented images to confirm it, according to an article posted on Facebook by Agent Green, the organization that condemned the case and which claims that Arthur’s problem-making was merely a pretext, the real reason for her killing being that Arthur had a score of 593 points out of a maximum of 600 in the trophy hunting industry.

Bear hunting has been prohibited in Romania since 2016, but since bear population has gone up -  Romania is home to over 7,000 bears according to Environment Minister, Tanczos Barna – and as a result of the shrinking bear habitats, some bears end up crossing into inhabited areas, killing livestock and attacking humans. Waivers for killing such bears are handed out regularly in exchange for considerable amounts of money. Some people have voiced their complaint, saying this is a method allowing the rich to bypass the law, which could give rise to abuse.

Arthur’s killing has been extensively covered by Romanian and foreign media, generating an emotional upheaval. A number of publications, commentators and politicians tried to capitalize on this public outcry, using this opportunity to reinforce the idea of Romania being taken over by Western powers that pursue their private interests, seeking to profit at any cost to the detriment of Romanians and enjoying impunities.

PURPOSE: To undermine public trust in the Euro-Atlantic community Romania is a part of and fuel hostility towards the West. To improve public perception of Russia in the long-term.

WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Josef-Emmanuel von und zu Lichtenstein didn’t come to Romania in any official capacity and is not the representative of a government. Given the sensitive topic, the public reacted emotionally, without giving the prince the benefit of the doubt. Even if the court does prove a crime has been committed, it will represent the action of a private foreign party that lacks any official capacity. Therefore, the narratives about the West are far-fetched. Waivers to kill bears causing problems are issued by the Romanian authorities as per the legislation in force, and the West has no say in this. The public uproar itself, the wide media coverage of this topic and prosecutors’ reaction all confirm that this was not a case of impunity.

As regards the meta-narrative about “Romania being a Western colony”, again, we are dealing with a crude falsehood. Romania’s Euro-Atlantic orientation and its NATO and EU membership have been Romania’s firm options, assumed by its entire political class, including factions with an anti-Western discourse. Reforms undertaken by Romania in order to accede to the two organizations have modernized the country, making it more investor-friendly for foreign (predominantly Western) businesses. NATO membership has provided Romania with unprecedented security, while its EU accession has led, among other things, to massive economic growth and narrowed the gaps in development compared to the West.  

GRAIN OF TRUTH: There have been cases, documented and publicized by the media over the years, some of them investigated and brought to court by the authorities, where Western nationals committed various crimes and abuses in Romania, taking advantage of permissive legislation.

  • Publication / Media:
    sputnik.md
  • Date of publication:
    06/05/2021
  • Language / Target audience:
    Sovereigntists, Eurosceptics, nationalists, nostalgics, conspiracy theory buffs, etc.
  • Political affiliation:
    The Kremlin
  • Key narrative:
    The killing of the bear Arthur proves Romania is a Western colony
Cătălin Gomboș

08 May 2021
Cătălin Gomboș

10 minutes read
  • The hunt of a trophy-bear by a Prince of Lichtenstein is used as an opportunity to breathe new life into narratives depicting Romania as a Western colony. This disinformation seeks to capitalize on the wave of public outrage sparked by this story, which has already prompted a criminal investigation into poaching and illegal use of firearms.
  • NARRATIVES: 1. The bear Arthur was abusively shot by a representative of the West who knows he can do whatever he pleases in this “colony-country”. 2. Romania is a Western colony, which bought its way into EU and NATO and is now looted by foreigners who dictate its policies and future.
  • PURPOSE: To undermine public trust in the Euro-Atlantic community Romania is a part of and fuel hostility towards the West. To improve public perception of Russia in the long-term.
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