NARRATIVES: 1. The new administration increased prices, and the people of the Republic of Moldova will be impoverished. 2. President Maia Sandu has caused a diplomatic crisis with Russia. 3. The United States, Europe and Soros are the employers of PAS and president Maia Sandu.
BACKGROUND: In the context of the natural gas crisis in Europe, prices went up considerably for consumers in the Republic of Moldova as well. Therefore, starting November 1, 2021, prices increased from 4.29 per cubic meter of gas to 11.09 lei (0.5 Euro). The new energy bills will burn a hole into people’s pockets, who use natural gas to heat their homes during the cold season. Over 10% of households in the Republic of Moldova are fitted with autonomous gas-based heating systems. An increase in prices for central heating in Chișinău, Bălți and other towns and villages (accounting for over 22% of households) is also expected. The Government announced it would subsidize part of the price demanded by Moldovagaz for household users. At the same time, the authorities have increased the monthly heating allowances granted to families with low income to 200 lei. Against the backdrop of an increase in fuel prices, economic experts are expecting a chain increase in prices for foodstuffs, while people with low income will supposedly be hit the hardest.
Negotiations with the Russian energy giant Gazprom over the signing of a new contract for the delivery of natural gas to the Republic of Moldova took approximately a month. During this time, Gazprom reduced its gas supplies to Moldova, and the authorities had to declare a state of emergency. Chișinău was forced to purchase natural gas elsewhere in Europe in order to keep the delivery system up and running. During negotiations with the Russian side, the Kremlin reportedly tried to put political pressure on the pro-Western authorities in Chișinău, particularly with respect to the Republic of Moldova’s European integration aspirations. Chișinău was backed in the negotiations by Romania, the EU, Germany, Poland and Ukraine, Prime Minister Natalia Gavriliță said after the protocol with Gazprom was signed. Additionally, Maia Sandu thanked the United States for supporting the Republic of Moldova during the gas crisis. The European Commission will in turn disburse 60 million Euro worth of assistance to help the Republic of Moldova cope with the energy crisis.
PURPOSE: Igor Dodon’s statements are aimed at blaming the new administration for the recent hikes in natural gas prices caused by market developments at global level. At the same time, the narratives promoted by the former pro-Russian president are meant to challenge the Republic of Moldova’s pro-European trajectory.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The increase in gas prices in the Republic of Moldova occurred in the context of overall price hikes for natural gas reported on global markets, and has nothing to do with the PAS Cabinet led by Natalia Gavriliță, as Igor Dodon tries to suggest. In November, the Republic of Moldova will pay approximately 450 USD per thousand cubic meters of natural gas, as stipulated by the contract the authorities have recently negotiated with Gazprom. The price obtained by the Republic of Moldova is lower than the one on European markets right now. There has never been a diplomatic crisis between Chișinău and Moscow, as Igor Dodon implies. On the contrary, negotiations between Moldovagaz (a subsidiary of Gazprom) and the Gazprom board, were attended by representatives of the governments in Chișinău and Moscow, deputy prime ministers of the Republic of Moldova, Andrei Spânu și Vladislav Kulminski, and the Kremlin’s deputy chief of staff, Dmitry Kozak. The Republic of Moldova does not want relations with the Russian Federation to deteriorate. On the contrary, from the very start, the new administration has argued in favor of a pragmatic and predictable dialogue with Moscow.
As regards the statement that president Maia Sandu must secure resources from her employers in America, Europe and Soros, this narrative is part of PSRM’s disinformation campaign, launched ever since last year’s presidential election campaign and reiterated this summer in the campaign for the legislative election. The narratives suggest pro-European parties are carrying out orders from the West, which is allegedly directly involved in the domestic affairs of the Republic of Moldova, dictating the president’s actions. The narratives were the first line of attack PSRM and Igor Dodon used against Maia Sandu and PAS, but also against the EU and US ambassadors in Chișinău.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: On November 9, ANRE introduced an increase in natural gas prices for household users, from 4.29 lei to 10.26 lei (excluding VAT), due to take effect starting November 1.