NARRATIVE: The Government in Chișinău is undermining the role of the Russian language and violating the rights of national minorities.
BACKGROUND: The Republic of Moldova is an ex-Soviet country where Russian was the dominant language in the Soviet era, when it was the language of the communist elites and of national minorities, in particular Russian and Ukrainian national groups, which were artificially increased.
Under the law adopted at the end of the Soviet period, the Russian language still preserves a role of interethnic communication. The law was however declared obsolete by the Constitutional Court. Meanwhile, the share of national minorities went down, whereas according to the 2014 census, 82% of Moldova’s citizens say they are Moldovans / Romanians (in 2004, 78% said they were Moldovans / Romanians), followed by Ukrainians with 6.6%, Găgăuz with 4.6% and Russians with 4.4%.
Although the share of Russian-speaking national minorities is decreasing, there are however politicians and parties that continue to use minority groups to boost their election score, by promoting certain topics such as declaring the Russian language the second “official language”.
Moreover, the Russian media has been spreading more and more messages about alleged violations of the rights of Russian-speaking minorities and launching accusations targeting the government in Chișinău, which it more or less overtly compares to the government in Kyiv, labeled “Nazi” by the Kremlin.
The article published on rubaltic.ru draws on a topic that is apparently unrelated to Moldovan politics – the deterioration of Moldovan cinematography and the shutdown of the Moldova Film studios (which used to be a part of Soviet cinematography) after the collapse of the USSR. After praising Soviet cinematography, the author goes on to make baseless claims regarding the status of the Russian language.
PURPOSE: To depict the government in Chișinău as hostile to the Russian-speaking minorities in the Republic of Moldova.
WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: Minority groups in the Republic of Moldova continue to use the Russian language without any obstruction from the authorities. On the contrary, Russian is frequently heard on the streets of Moldova and is even used by native Romanian speakers when they interact with Russian natives. The cinemas the author mentions continue to screen films dubbed in Russian or with Romanian subtitles. The Russian language continues to be taught in Romanian-language schools. Moreover, approximately 16% of schools have Russian-language teaching, which reflects the share of national minorities. Therefore, the statement about the right to Russian language education being violated is unfounded.
Finally, the law in question does not ban the rebroadcast of Russian TV stations. The law simply bans the rebroadcast of certain categories of programmes, such as news segments and political shows produced in countries that did not ratify the European Convention on Transfrontier Television. The purpose of the law is to prevent manipulation, disinformation and propaganda disseminated by Russian media outlets, the majority of which are controlled by the Kremlin and whose numbers have increased after the Russian military intervention in Ukraine.